This article will not touch on the impact "The Great Resignation" has had on the hospitality industry, as we are well aware — the focus will instead be on what actions we can take to battle it. Money is not the answer. Many hotel owners and operators do not have much money left after the pandemic, anyway. Luckily, there are many factors that employees are looking for besides increased pay (although it would be nice!).
The purpose of this article is to highlight some of these factors and provide a roadmap on how solutions can be implemented to attract and retain staff. But before we dive into them, there is one critical thing that hotels need to start doing more: actually talk to the employees and listen to understand how they feel and what they need. Employers should continuously seek employee feedback on what makes their life difficult and what suggestions they have to improve it. A positive feedback loop will ensure that the environment is only improving in the future.
Some employees will feel more comfortable to share anonymously through surveys. But most importantly, management needs to create an open communication policy to improve trust. Many employees do not feel comfortable sharing what is on their mind with their managers, but this wall has to be broken, by using some of the ideas mentioned below.
Get Ownership Buy-in
Hotels have become profit-generating investments for all kinds of ownership groups, whether it is an individual or a bank. So it is on management to convey the true financial impact of re-training new staff and the cost of having a burned-out team. This can generate potential added value, such as better guest reviews leading to an increased ADR.
The management team must develop a persuasive proposal with a direct ask and concisely state the problem and solutions, with their relevant costs and benefits.
Next, here are some examples of what hotels can do to become a better place to work.
Invest Time and Energy into Culture
Evaluate the Organizational Structure: “Do we have managers that care about our staff?” This is one of the main reasons why employees leave their job, so it must be evaluated. For example, collect feedback through an anonymous employee satisfaction survey where the results are transparent to higher level management and ownership.
Career Development and Recognition Programs: Anyone can Google a list of ideas here, but the best thing would be to ask employees what they would like and genuinely give specific recognition.
Creating a Fun and Collaborative Culture: Encourage creativity through monthly team building events like paint nights with wine. Incorporate wellness through regular yoga/meditation classes. Gift sharing, contests, a birthday wheel — these are also good ways to integrate and motivate different generations. How much would these really cost?
Connectivity: We can learn from the startup world, who are consciously trying to create great work environments. It can be simple things such as connecting their staff through platforms like Slack. Many hotels have their in-house communication systems, but this can be an option for individual departments or independent hotels.
Greater Purpose: Introduce initiatives to address sustainability, such as calculating the carbon footprint from procurement and setting benchmarks, or find ways to help the local community.
Even though the hospitality industry has been hit the hardest, we need to pave the way for the recovery. This can be seen as an opportunity to reduce situations where people are forced to work until they burn out, and instead, create opportunities for the right people to thrive in roles that are suited for them. McKinsey calls this “The Great Attraction”. Take a step back. Listen. Learn. Understand. Make the changes that employees want. And seize the opportunity. This can lead to an industry-wide innovation of employee culture.
There is no reason to blame the pandemic or the overworked staff for leaving. If hotels see the opportunity to make their property a great place to work, they will be able to attract the many people that still love the industry. Some have jumped to financial services and retail, but there is something special about a hospitality environment that you cannot find anywhere else. Creating this culture is what we should focus on.
Everyone has a role to play in the recovery. Owners have to invest and understand the situation. Management needs to better listen to their staff and help them. And employees need to voice their concerns and use their ideas to co-create the right culture. We need this now more than ever.
This blog post received Third Place in the Spring 2022 HFTP/MS Global Hospitality Business Graduate Student Blog Competition presented by the HFTP Foundation. Participants are students participating in the Master of Science in Global Hospitality Business, a partnership between the Conrad N. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership at the University of Houston, the School of Hotel and Tourism Management at Hong Kong Polytechnic University and EHL. The blog posts that received the top scores will be published on HFTP Connect through August 2022. Learn more at HFTP News.
Sheheryar Javaid is a partner at the Hyatt Place Toronto/Mississauga Centre in Ontario, Canada and recent graduate of the Master of Science in Global Hospitality Business program, which is in partnership of three schools: EHL, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and University of Houston.
Leisure and hospitality workers are quitting their jobs at more than twice the record national average. (2021, November 12). Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/entertainment-and-restaurant-workers-leading-great-resignation-jolts-2021-11?international=true&r=US&IR=T
Moreo, A., Rahman, I., Cain, L., & Mistry, T. G. (2022b, February 7). Why Hospitality Workers Are Quitting. YES! Magazine. https://www.yesmagazine.org/economy/2022/02/07/why-hospitality-workers-are-quitting
NPR - The Great Resignation? More like The Great Renegotiation. (2022, January 25). NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2022/01/25/1075115539/the-great-resignation-more-like-the-great-renegotiation?t=1657660533922
The Great Resignation of 2021: Lessons Learned in Hospitality & Food Service. (2021, November 12). Kronos Inc. https://www.kronos.com/blogs/industry-insights/great-resignation-2021-lessons-learned-hospitality-food-service
de Smet, A., Dowling, B., Mugayar-Baldocchi, M., & Schaninger, B. (2022, March 28). ‘Great Attrition’ or ‘Great Attraction’? The choice is yours. McKinsey & Company. https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/great-attrition-or-great-attraction-the-choice-is-yours