Thinking outside of the box to address people and skills shortages

The key to securing a home-grown workforce is to attract people into the hospitality sector from an early age, from aged 16 and upwards, and then engage, train, mentor and develop them so that they stay.

Recruit on attitude and personality rather than on experience.

We have many success stories of this throughout the temporary skills level side of our business with young students coming to us from various walks of life who get hooked into life within hospitality and grow into managers.

By letting them dip their toes into this sector and then giving grass root training, it is possible to grow your own talent and mould them to suit your ethics and ways of doing business.

There is a massive opportunity here for school leavers, apprentices and the broader industry. The trick is to look after these young people properly by supporting and encouraging that first flicker of interest so that it becomes their passion. This is about listening, offering training, clear career paths, a positive and supportive working environment, as well as mentoring and recognition from day one.

To have and to hold

To have and to hold

Supporting older people to stay in the workplace will not only reap the benefit of wisdom but could fill in vital skills gaps in the sector.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 15.5% of men are now still in employment at the age of 70, a sharp increase from 10% in 2012. The rise in women working past the traditional retirement age has been even more pronounced, doubling from 5.6% to 11.3% over the past four years.

It seems that many people reaching retirement age may be happy to stay on if offered more flexible working options or job-sharing roles.

Semi-retired people or those retiring from other service-related sectors such as the food retail industry should also be considered to fill people gaps as their complementary skills and experience could be valuable within a hospitality setting.

Make it easy for returners

Returning to work after a career break, such as to raise a family, can undermine confidence so anything to make an individual feel valued before they leave can impact on their decision to return.

Inflexible working hours are an absolute no-no. The hospitality sector is losing too many talented and experienced women due to this. Operators need to consider the benefits of more flexible working options, and particularly, job sharing, which offers the possibility of having two individuals with different or complementary skill sets to fill a role.

According to the CIPD’s Employee Outlook Survey (April 2016) the use of flexible working has a big impact on employees’ attitudes to work–life balance, with 65% of flexible workers satisfied or very satisfied with their work–life balance compared with 47% of employees who don’t work flexibly.

Priorities and responsibilities change when a family comes along so keeping an open mind and tuning into people’s changing needs and circumstances can impact positively on recruitment and retention.

Embrace the benefits of interim contracts

Interim contracts have been successful for many years within the legal, IT and financial sectors. It’s time for the hospitality sector to recognise the many benefits they bring.

Gone are the days of “if you can’t show commitment to a year plus, we are sadly not interested.” We now have clients embracing the skill and energy of this whole concept.

For example, we h

ave placed management into roles where they have relished the opportunity, without having the decision to stay long term from day one. One massive benefit is that, in many cases, they have stayed or moved within the business with great success. Interim contracts are also ideal for chefs who are going into new openings and away from home assignments or for freelance chefs who want to take on short assignments.

Interim contracts offer a flexible solution for both employers and their staff. For example, from a candidate’s viewpoint, they offer a great avenue for an individual to explore new career opportunities, allowing them to ‘test the waters’ to see how they get on in a new role without any huge commitment.

Widen your horizons

Talent here on short term travel from non-European overseas countries can bring so much to the table in terms of fresh ideas. Equally, there are British hospitality workers working in overseas seasonal

establishments such as ski companies who may value temporary employment in the UK during off-seasonal downtime.

Consider too local UK talent who are committed to assignments abroad but who may be unaware that there are great fixed term interim contracts available within the hospitality sector before they leave.

Many don’t want the day-to-day traditional temporary work but seek flexibility around certain dates so consider offering them interim contracts to attract them to join your organisation.

Employing the ‘unemployable’ is another possibility to consider. For example, at Admiral Recruitment we work with the long-term unemployed to secure temporary assignments and onto permanent roles. To ensure that these candidates get every possible opportunity we don’t charge clients for long-term unemployed candidates. Programmes like The Clink and Foxes Academy are successfully creating opportunities every day for individuals to shine within this sector.

The key to the on-going challenge of people and skills shortages is to look after people from recruitment to retirement.

For those coming into the industry, give them the best experience possible by mentoring, encouraging, developing and rewarding people at every step of their career path.

Make them feel proud of being part of such a vibrant and creative sector which contributes so much to our culture and international reputation. By embracing diversity and keeping an open mind on sourcing talent from all walks of life, sectors of society and ages, we may go some way in future-proofing the skills and people gaps facing this sector.

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