Some 70% of business leaders believe the existing talent pool in the UK is shrinking (SIA Talent Study 2019). The problem is that demand is staying the same, resulting in a highly competitive talent market, one that the hospitality sector is finding difficult to overcome.
The reasons behind diminishing talent pools is partly because of changing attitudes towards work. More people than ever now search for work that will fit around their lifestyles as opposed to opting for the traditional ‘job for life’. Younger generations especially prefer to not be tied into a single job, instead choosing the freedom to work on their own terms.
Brexit is also having an impact on the amount of talent available to employers. According to the ONS, EU net migration dropped to a 10-year low this year, a trend which is likely to continue. But, what can the hospitality industry do to make the most of the talent on offer in such uncertain and unfamiliar times?
Future proofing hospitality
One of the biggest issues is that hospitality is built around customer service. Staff have to offer a certain level of service for an event, restaurant or hotel to be successful. In a world fuelled by online reviews, anything less puts businesses at serious risk. This is why there is a real concern around organisations having to lower standards in order to fill empty roles.
Hiring below-par staff just to make up numbers isn’t sustainable. This is why many businesses are looking at new ways of hiring. From speaking to people within the industry at a recent Coople roundtable breakfast, companies are trying to think out of the box when it comes to finding new staff, with some even going as far as finding new talent through community groups. While this might help find a few strong team members, it’s not an effective way to hire a whole workforce.
Instead, a whole change in mindset, from how companies in hospitality hire to how they retain talent, needs to be adopted. The industry has to understand the new needs and demands of the modern workforce in order to recruit and retain the best talent.
Finding a long term solution
A longer-term solution is flexible working. It’s grown in popularity with the SIA Talent Study 2019 finding that thirty percent of companies are now hiring temporary labour across all job levels. Flexible workers are no longer seen as unskilled employees who make up numbers but are instead seen as valuable members of the team, and many people who work this way are making very successful careers from it.
But, finding the right people is only half the battle. Holding on to talent is just as important when looking to overcome shallow talent pools. The best way to do this is by creating a culture where all staff, whether permanent or temporary, feel supported and empowered. This is something that has previously been a challenge within hospitality due to high pressure environments and the tendency for high staff turnover.
The industry is starting to realise that to overcome shrinking talent pools employers within hospitality have to look beyond the traditional methods of finding staff. They need to create a culture that isn’t just about filling shifts but offering staff a place where they can develop while feeling valued. The hospitality sector can’t compromise on quality and by understanding the workforce of the future it shouldn’t have to.
Viktor Calabrò, founder and executive chairman of Coople