The state of staffing in the hospitality space has turned heads and made headlines, becoming one of the most prominent and least expected pain points after the struggle to recover jobs within the sector. In April 2021, accommodation and food services had the highest reported quit rate across multiple major sectors, despite wages rising by a large margin in the last 12 months. The industry lost more than 890,000 employees—a staggering 6.8%.
In the last few months of fallout, most of the conversation has focused on topics like wage rates and benefits, two of the many important considerations in motivating a return to work. Already short on resources, many employers in the hospitality space are waiting with bated breath to see where the new industry average will settle. But perhaps the steepest cost of labor shortages comes from turnover. When supporting roles go unfulfilled, hospitality firms are unable to grow with the influx of traveler demand. Further, any aspect of the guest experience that slips as a result of having a staff that’s diminished in size is a foregone opportunity for long-term relationships and traveler affinity—a loss which, at scale, quickly outweighs an increase in hourly wages.
Currently, as much as one third of former hospitality workers report an unwillingness to return to the industry. Obviously, the sector can’t shoulder that kind of loss for long. In order to make the necessary changes, it’s imperative that employers understand not only how many people are leaving, but why. When asked, 45% of those respondents mentioned looking for higher pay, 29% better benefits, and 1 in 5 workers reported an immediate, non-negotiable need for more flexibility.
Putting Work Back in Worker’s Hands
Another word for flexibility might be control. After the watershed events of the pandemic, workers want to take charge of their employment. Benefits, rates, and schedule flexibility all point to the same desire: people want to have more agency in the design of their working lives.
The recent proliferation of digital hiring platforms has seen a staggering spike in interest as a self-directed job search strategy. This year, workforce history was made when for the first time, a majority of job applications were submitted on a mobile device rather than a desktop computer—61% to be exact. The finding suggests an important shift away from legacy platforms and temporary work agencies and toward mobile applications that streamline the job search experience. Employers who are leafing through resumés from five years back might consider exploring the eager pipeline of candidates who are just a click away.
What's in an App?
The COVID-era uptake of the app-empowered job search offered some clear benefits to workers. Apps represent an opt-in experience, and virtual communities are helping get more information, understand trends at an industry level, and find rapport with other job-seekers. But rampant innovation in the space is quickly making app-based platforms the best choice for employers, too—solving their post-pandemic shortages with incredible efficiency, and diminishing the resource-spend of unsuccessful hiring campaigns.
First, an app-based hiring strategy removes the need to invest time and resources into vetting each candidate. By partnering with the right service provider, every candidate that finds their way to the app will have gone through front-end vetting. Rather than use outdated industry practices like reference letters, drug tests, employment verification—new-to-market vendors are introducing more effective screening protocols. App-platforms with higher average show rates and job success rates do a better job at finding competent and committed workers to put forward for the roles.
Second, mobile apps can help employers staff flexibly, adjusting their role offerings as their day-to-day needs change. The need for cleaning professionals, for example, is intimately tied to the number of overnight guests, and the need for food service assistants depends on how many people attend the event. As those numbers continue to change, and as the travel market remains largely unpredictable, employers can skip the intermediaries of temporary staffing agencies and list the roles as they are needed, increasing the rate if the need is urgent.
In addition, integrated platforms can help employers manage their contingent workforce. All in one place, employers can schedule, pay, and re-hire hourly workers, forming long-term relationships and amassing the data as they go. They can collect key performance indicators, track the progress of their net operating income with different hiring strategies, and form longer-term relationships with hourly workers without the normal intermediaries.
Apps are inherently less expensive than traditional agency fees, but app-platforms offer important savings in other ways. The ability to hire with full transparency, and to see a worker's reviews from their other jobs, helps employers diminish the risk they take on when they establish a new working relationship. With that direct path of engagement, employers can find high quality workers that are well-recommended based on the role. With time, unreliable workers and no-shows will be flagged in the reviews, and employers will be able to staff not only with ease, but also with confidence.
Today, apps offer better solutions to almost everything—calling a ride, finding a roommate, learning a new language, talking with friends. The staffing industry will be no exception. By putting the selection power back in the worker’s hands, apps are solving the biggest pain points of the post-COVID job seeker. Employers in the hospitality space can recover their time and resources spent on outdated hiring strategies, avoid guesswork, and protect their operations from shortages. For employers and employees, the path to a better normal starts with an app.