How can employers recruit the right staff in the hospitality industry and retain them?

The Staff Canteen

A recent live panel hosted by The Staff Canteen, in association with RATIONAL, examined how employers can recruit the right staff in the hospitality industry and retain them.

It comes after several tough years for Britain’s hospitality industry following several continued challenges, including rising costs, a staffing shortage, and a spiralling cost of living crisis.

The panel included; Aaron Mulliss, a former chef and Founder of the Tastie hospitality recruitment firm, RATIONAL Ambassador Rehan Uddin, former chef and Kitchen Consultant Anna Williams, and Kirsteen Raitt, group Recruitment Manager at Firmdale Hotels PLC.

How to attract the best talent?

Looking at how firms can attract the best talent, Aaron explained that the job has to be the right fit for that candidate.

“The most important thing is that the environment has to be the right fit for you. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about the salary, or how many days off a week, or how many shifts you’re working, it’s the environment you’re in,” he explained.

Aaron added: “If your personality traits fit within that environment and it’s a great fit then I think that’s the priority. You could be offered a million pounds a year to work in a space that’s not right for you, you’re not going to stick with it.”

Discussing the importance of building a positive environment for employees, Kirsteen said: “Hospitality is very busy and very demanding, but you want people to have fun and you want to create that great working environment so that people work for you, and not someone else.”

Highlighting a key issue in a lot of hospitality job adverts, Anna said: “The information that is put out on a lot of adverts won’t have all of the job information, especially the salary, making it a big process for candidates to go through to see how much that job is worth. Be transparent, put the information that’s actually needed to know what the job is on paper.”

“You need to work on your work force, they are the true ambassadors of your company, of your brand. People will come in and do a trial, it’s these people that they will be spending the most time with, they need to enjoy working there. They are creating the culture for you,” Anna explained.

Explaining how a negative work environment can impact a company’s overall recruitment, Anna added: “If someone comes in and does a work trial and no one enjoys working there and all the conditions are really bad, you’re going to keep on investing money in recruitment and you’re not going to have any positive trials or job hire won’t last that long.”

For Rehan, the existing employers can provide a great litmus test on who’s a right for fit for your business.

“Your existing staff base are very good assessors of who is going to be able to cut it in your workplace. You can bring the best talent in but they have to be a good fit into your establishment in terms of delivering not only your vision but their vision as well,” explained Rehan.

What do hospitality workers want in 2023?

Following a huge shift across the industry as well as a variety of socio-economic challenges, areas such as wages, better working hours and stable career progression represent areas of concern for hospitality workers.

Research from national hospitality group the Cairn Hotel Group revealed that almost a third (32%) of staff wouldn’t plan to stay in a hospitality job longer than six months, highlighting that a large proportion of industry professionals are not happy with their job and work environment.

25-34-year-olds sadly believe this the strongest (61%) followed by Gen Z (60%) and when asked, almost a fourth (24%) of Gen Z cited this reason as why they would completely leave a role in the sector, indicating more must be done by employers to change mindsets.

Discussing staff salaries amid spiralling cost of living, Aaron said: “Cost of living is a huge factor so salary does have to be right. I think for a long time, salaries in hospitality have not been as a good as they should have been. We’ve been quite reactive instead of proactive as an industry regarding salaries.”

Highlighting how pay has been a long-term issue for staff and one which plays a huge factor in hiring and retaining staff, Aaron reiterated the importance of a good working environment for staff.

“Salaries are definitely something that is important, but so is more of a work life balance. I think the days of 70 to 100 hours weeks are a thing of the past in most places. Can they still come down? Maybe a little bit but it all comes down to the cost of running a restaurant,” he added.

Mental Health in the Workplace

One area in particular that has seen a spike in interest amongst professionals is what mental health and wellbeing support an employer provides, as well as what green and inclusive practices they adopt across their business.

For Kirsteen and her employer Firmdale Hotels PLC, ensuring that employees are supported internally is absolutely key to their overall operations.

“We have an internal communications system and it does get used really well. Each hotel has one and they use it to celebrate milestones, birthdays, and work anniversaries,” she explained.

Kirsteen added: “We have quite good communication tools because all our hotels are quite close together, they’re all in London, it does really help with that but it’s key. Communication is key. Every company just doesn’t seem to get it quite right, we either over communicate or we don’t communicate enough, but we keep trying and I think it’s really important to have an internal comms board.”

With already a significant number of employees factoring in these offerings to their job search criteria, Anna only expects this trend to continue and grow across in the future.

“I’ve worked in a few restaurants and one hotel where there’s been big transitions from moving into being more sustainable,” explained Anna.

Explaining how sustainability transcends to more than green initiatives, Anna highlighted that these approaches must be accompanied by an emphasis on improving the lives of workers.

“You can say you’re being sustainable but staff are a sustainable thing as well. We talked about work life balance, but are your staff having a sustainable life too? So many people are more conscious of it, we’re all getting more conscious of it, which we should because it’s critical that this the way we start to work,” Anna added.

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The Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 20th October 2023

How can employers recruit the right staff in the hospitality industry and retain them?