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Using Technology to Prioritize Employee Recruitment, Retention and Growth

Ron Mitchell, CEO of Virgil Holdings Inc. & Hcareers

The hotel industry is booming, which means hospitality employers have a tough reality to face. There are more travelers than ever, but not enough workers to fill the customer service front lines necessary for a quality guest experience. The industry has a high turnover rate of 73.8%, and the highest month-over-month job growth of any industry in the U.S. with a new job being added every 2.5 seconds. The industry is quickly outgrowing its capacity and hospitality employers are left to sift through a shrinking number of candidates with the skills and work ethic necessary for the face-paced jobs. 

On top of those economic drivers that are making it easier for job seekers to be selective in finding a job they want, technology is also helping to put them in control. With just a keystroke, the world’s largest tech companies are providing instant access to countless employers and seemingly endless information on each one. 

To turn this situation around - to not only recruit the best candidates, but also retain them - employers need to shift their attention to the employee experience by putting focus on job fit, workplace culture, and the personal growth of their employees. 

When looking at the rising generation of workers, we’ve found that marketing a job the way that the industry has for previous generations just isn’t working. As long as they were receiving a steady paycheck and were treated fairly, Baby Boomers didn’t usually ask for much more from their employer. But Millennials and Gen Z want much more. We surveyed 3,000 Millennials and Gen Zers in partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Association and found that compensation, benefits and type of work are only a fraction of what they consider when taking a job. Other significant factors included 1) personal growth opportunities, 2) flexible work rules and 3) corporate social responsibility. 

To improve the employee experience - from recruitment to retention and growth - these are the things that hospitality employers need to prioritize within their company, advertise to potential job seekers and then build upon once a hire is made. If a candidate feels that a company is forward-thinking and invested in their personal success and happiness, our experience has shown that they will find more satisfaction and put more stake into the company. 

In programs that we developed for Fortune 100 companies, we found that over a three-year period, employees who were given visibility into career pathways, developmental coaching and a personalized roadmap completed 25-30% more of the skill milestones needed for promotion, stayed at the company 30% longer and were promoted at nearly double the rate compared to those not provided the same growth opportunities within their organization. The hospitality industry should take note of this. Investment in employees is returned to the company in the form of invested employees, which results in increased retention, boosted morale, and ultimately the higher quality service that keep paying customers coming back. 

Technology is already playing a huge role in how employers reach job seekers. Virtually every potential candidate is carrying access to all job listing in their pockets with them every day. Employers are becoming more sophisticated about choosing the right mediums, such as social media, apps and engaging videos, to reach their target audiences. But advanced data analytics and AI technologies can help create an engaging and promising employee experience, beginning with first contact all the way through creating a personalized growth plan for a loyal employee. 

In this age of endless data, analytics platforms can help gather and comb through data points on skills, experiences, benefits priorities and culture fit to help curate job recommendations that result in the best employer-employee matches. Based on an individual's past roles and responsibilities, the data can help recommend jobs based on a multitude of other individuals who found jobs that fit the same set of experiences. That same concept of using data can then be used to help recommend advancement opportunities and skill development as an employee matures through a company. 

Although we have a long way to go in realizing the full potential of technology and AI in recruiting and retention, the landscape is changing rapidly. Companies are beginning to leverage the multitude of data points they have on candidates and employees. They are starting to think of employment as a continuum that does that simply start with an interview and end with an offer. Today, advanced technologies enable organizations to provide a consistent approach to the identification, engagement and development of individuals throughout their employment lifecycle. The result for employers is better candidates, better employee engagement and better retention.


  • About the Author

    Ron Mitchell currently serves as the CEO of Virgil Holdings Inc. (VHI). VHI owns and operates technology-enabled human capital solutions, including Hcareers, the leading talent recruitment platform in the hospitality industry and Virgil Careers, a career assessment and analytics platform. Prior to Virgil, Mitchell founded and served as CEO of CareerCore Inc., an enterprise SaaS platform that enables organizations to scale professional development coaching throughout an organization.

    Prior to his work in the HR technology space, Mitchellspent several years as an investment banker and private equity professional. Mitchell was a General Partner of Provender Capital Group, LLC, a merchant banking fund making principal investments in media, financial services and specialty retail. Mitchell's professional experience also includes Morgan Stanley, Mitchell & Titus, McKinsey & Co. and The Anschutz Corporation.

    Mitchell earned his AB from Harvard University and MBA from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business where he served as President of his class.


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