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Time-to-Hire Is Proving Essential During Hospitality Staffing Shortage

In this candidate-driven market, if the hiring process is even slightly delayed, candidates will move on to the next offer.
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A recent American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) study revealed most (87%) hotels are experiencing staffing shortages, with over a third (36%) saying severely so. Additionally, since the recent loosening of Covid-19 restrictions, there’s been an unprecedented and sudden increase in travelers over the past year. As if labor shortages and the pressure of hiring during a travel surge weren’t challenging enough, hotel owners also have a unique obligation when it comes to the hiring process – ensuring a safe work environment not only for all employees, but guests as well.

As a result of this hiring shortage, hospitality companies are under pressure to hire quickly at high volume. In this candidate-driven market, if the hiring process is even slightly delayed, candidates will move on to the next offer. Background checks need to be fast, and they also need to be thorough to ensure safety and secure talent.

Competition for Talent Remains Fierce

Following the pandemic, many workers left the hospitality industry for good, and hotels are still feeling the impact. There’s also increased competition from other industries to entice job seekers. Customer service, communication skills, and the ability to work with customers are just a few of the desired skillsets that are in demand across many different industries. As a result, these workers are often poached or juggling other competitive offers.

Like employees in many other industries, hospitality workers want flexibility, with the option for remote work or the ability to clock in for their desired hours. With most hospitality work operating on a shift-based schedule, companies today are challenged to adjust to what their employees want. Companies that get the employee experience right are more likely to have stronger retention and create natural brand ambassadors to promote the company organically. 

As always, safety is paramount for both candidates and employees. In a recent survey of more than 3,700 job seekers, candidates expressed their desire to work at organizations where they can trust they will be safe. Safety in the workplace as it relates to colleagues and people (82%) and the physical environment (80%) were cited as key factors that are important to job seekers in deciding where to work or the kind of work they pursue. By creating a safe environment and continually investing in it, employers can attract candidates and retain staff.   

Improving Hiring Practices

As this next hiring surge approaches, talent acquisition teams may be tempted to take shortcuts, such as foregoing background checks. While time is critical, it shouldn’t come at the expense of customer and employee safety.

Unique to the hospitality industry, employees, namely hotel staff, have access to customer information and personal belongings. This industry also has many interpersonal interactions, and guests are often alone with employees. Thorough background screening and identity verification helps create people-first cultures built upon a foundation of trust and safety.

Partnering for Success

To expand the safety of hotel staff and guests while improving the hiring experience for candidates, owners should leverage modern screening technology and customer support. By partnering with a background screening and identity verification vendor, organizations can strike the right balance between faster time-to-hire and a safe workplace.

While looking for a screening provider, three considerations to keep top of mind are: time-to- hire, compliance, and streamlined screening. Owners should look for an efficient time-to-hire to keep pace with the competition for talent and improve the onboarding experience. Additionally, providers should offer comprehensive compliance updates and streamlined screening, to ensure hiring practices are up-to-date and that candidate experience remains in focus. Identity verification is another layer to candidate screening that should be considered as part of the hiring process.  

Retaining Great Talent

Retaining great talent is just as important as attracting new employees. Therefore, leaders should invest in their workers to keep them onboard. This includes mentoring, formal training, development programs, and fostering a strong culture. In the hospitality industry, culture and brand go hand-in-hand. Developing a strong culture of loyalty and employee recognition creates a foundation for a stronger brand.

Career progression is a huge motivator for workers to remain with an organization. Assess your employees’ career trajectory plans and provide them with opportunities for growth and advancement within your company. Even smaller employee appreciation programs and perks can make a big impact to improve employee experience and loyalty. Small gifts for milestones, frequent recognition, and team- building activities are a few ways to boost employee morale and create an authentic workplace that celebrates employees.

Looking Ahead to 2023 and Beyond

The hospitality industry saw major fluctuations in 2022, from the Great Resignation to sudden spikes in staff needs during the summer coming out of the pandemic. This year certainly taught the industry that it must embrace the unpredictable.

Looking ahead, we anticipate growth in the hospitality franchise model, an increase of contingent workers, and better management of high-turnover rates. In partnership with technology and solution providers, the hospitality industry can navigate these challenges and embrace new opportunities.




Joy Henry is the Head of Sterling’s Technology and Business Services group, where she holds responsibility for the P&L of the Financial Services, Retail, Gig, Staffing, Diligence, Technology, Media, Entertainment, and Hospitality practice areas of the business. Joy joined Sterling in 2013 and previously held the position of General Manager of the Financial and Business Services Practice Area. Prior to Sterling, Joy spent nearly 15 years at Dow Jones serving in various roles across the organization.

Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising from this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.   


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