The health and happiness of the workforce is a key recruitment battleground for all companies in the hospitality sector. With ‘work from home’ a remote possibility for most roles, how can companies reduce the flow of people from the industry and into sectors with different conditions? 

By improving the general wellbeing and health of people already here, and by offering returnees and new joiners more than what was there before. Read on to discover more about how to offer improved care for your existing and potential employees. 

Training and retention and attraction: two sides of the same coin

It might seem counterintuitive to say that employee retention and attraction are two sides of the same coin, but they really are. What is appealing for potential candidates is just as important for the people who already work for you. After all, if people will come to work for you because you have excellent training and good conditions, people will equally stay with you for the same reasons. 

For example, since 2013, the IHG Academy has positively impacted over 80,000 people globally by offering them work experience and life skills through hotel internships and placements. Recently, the scheme has been expanded to include the IHG Skills Academy, which provides a kind of marketplace where IHG and selected partners can offer free online courses and opportunities for people who want to build confidence and become ready for the world of work.

How will this help IHG with attraction and retention? Simply put, people who complete specific modules of the programme who are not currently employed by the company will be fast tracked in their recruitment process. And in terms of retaining employees, offering them learning opportunities is proven to keep people engaged, by providing them the ability to learn and grow their way up the career ladder faster.  

What can smaller companies do to benefit from training? Look for providers such as Lobster Ink, who can provide bespoke, ready-made learning solutions for companies of all sizes. They have video courses specifically made for the hospitality industry, and there are other, local and nation specific learning providers out there who can help you. 

A sense of wellbeing and not overworking 

One of the major reasons people have been leaving the hospitality industry is the working hours and shift patterns. Of course, much of this is unavoidable for the hotels, restaurants and bars that make up the majority of our industry, as they often open early in the morning till late at night. However, each business has the option of offering different schedules, and some have taken onboard the 4 day week. 

Seren Collection, in Wales, recently decided to roll out a 4 day working week and a profit share to all its employees. From January 2022 all staff will be on the rota for 4 days, and paid for extra that they work, if they do. People who want to continue on a 5 day schedule are fully able to do so, to increase the amount of flexibility in the collections workforce. 

Neil Kedward, MD of Seren Collection says, “Our success is deeply linked to our special team. We know how much valuable time they commit, and how their exceptional skills and loyalty to our venues help make it all happen. We’ve always been passionate about rewarding this commitment and the extraordinary level of professionalism in our teams. But we need to go further, and so for us, there has never been a better time to make these transformative changes.” 

Hand Picked Hotels also brought in a 4 day working week pre-pandemic. The company of 20 country house hotels around the UK said that it had introduced the initiative in order "to support a greater work-life balance for kitchen teams and attract more skilled professionals to the industry".

A 2019 survey by Henley Business School found:

  • 2/3 of firms adopting a four-day week saw productivity upturns
  • 78% reported happier workers
  • 70% found workers were less stressed
  • 62% saw staff taking fewer days off sick.

Mental health is the key driver of wellbeing 

A simple question can make all the difference: “What can we do to make your job easier this week?” As leaders in the hospitality industry, this simple question can lead to actions you can take as a team, a challenge you as a leader can solve, and many more things. 

Employers should recognise that in the eyes of guests, your people are your brand, and how happy and engaged they are, reflects on your establishment. So, the better they feel, the better your guests' experience will be. Ensuring that your employees are in the loop on guest or business concerns will help them to find solutions, which increases their sense of ownership - which improves morale! 

Here are some practical resources you can show to your team, or indeed, look at together in a mental health session you could run before a shift. The fastest way to help improve the mental health of your team is to start addressing it, and then go from there. It really is that simple. 

Now Pause initiative offers a free, practical, self-care toolkit to help keep your mental health in shape. The programme has been designed by wellbeing coach Andrew Johnson who has been helping people for over 25 years.

Hospitality Action offers resources and advice for teams and their leaders. While UK based, the information here can help any team. To get the website in your language, simply open it in Google Chrome browser and it will automatically translate it for you and your team.