How To Handle the Top Staffing Struggles in the Hospitality & Tourism Sector

Here, Consult HR Director Julie Pollock shares her top tips for handling common staffing struggles within the hospitality and tourism sectors.

It is fantastic to see that year on year the visitor numbers to Derry-Londonderry and Northern Ireland as a whole are on the rise.

So it is all too important to make sure that businesses in this sector have their staffing right to reap the benefits.

However many businesses in the Hospitality and Tourism sector struggle with issues such as; ongoing skills shortages – a surplus of chefs are as rare as ‘hens teeth’, the continuous rise of staffing costs such as the national minimum wage rates and employer pension contributions and the ongoing searches for quality staff who will deliver exceptional customer service to achieve that 5 star visitor experience.

Julie Pollock, owner & director of Consult HR shares her top tips on how to effectively manage this:

  1. Struggling with recruitment? – choose the correct recruitment method for your target market.

In a recent survey the number 1 recruitment tool to source job seekers was employee referral, followed by the company’s website and social media accounts.

In this competitive market, employers now need to be seen as attractive to the job applicants.

Here are some innovative recruitment ideas to consider:

  • Job fairs: Try showcasing your business by hosting an open house for the public or holding an internal job fair.
  • Non-traditional methods: A written job description on a job search site won’t necessarily make you stand out. A video or podcast however, will do just that. Using non-traditional recruiting media is also your chance to convey your brand and what it is like to work there. It could be a fun video on YouTube, or a podcast where a current employee describes the position and your company.
  • Look for talent in other industries: Are you receiving great service at a store? Let that person know that there are opportunities at your business. You can teach the skills required, but it is much harder to teach someone the willingness to go the extra mile or bring passion to the work place.
  • Use multicultural newspapers and community centres to attract newcomers.
  • Add a line to your company email signature indicating that you are hiring to spread the word.

  1. How do you ensure your staff stay?

Staff turnover in the hospitality and tourism industries is set to be around 66%. Why? The key is demographics: 2016 is the first year that millennials outnumber every other demographic group in the workforce.

The expectation of the millennials is different from other demographics. These are workers who expect to set their own career path, whose loyalty to an employer is lower and whose demand for feedback is higher than ever.

Examples of how to encourage staff to stay in your employment include:

  • Introduce a buddy system so staff feel welcomed from day one.
  • Introduce recognition schemes so that staff feel valued i.e. employee of the month.
  • Introduce a staff suggestion scheme with a reward scheme attached.
  • Find out what each individual employee wants out of their career and how you can help them achieve that.

  1. Does you staff really know what is expected of them?

I have seen it so many times where an employee is recruited, they are given a job title without an explanation of what it is that their manager wants them to do. The employee goes off undertaking the tasks that they ‘think’ they are expected to do.

So the manager gets the impression the employee is not ‘fit’ for the job because they are not undertaking the tasks they wanted/expected them to do, but in actual fact this may have been down to a lack of communication.

So be clear on what their responsibilities are, what you expect them to do on a day to day basis, draw up a job description of their duties and set out what targets you expect them to achieve in their role. This will avoid any confusion and misunderstanding of roles.

  1. What are the benefits of proper employment contracts?

It is a legal requirement that employees in all sectors are issued with terms and conditions of employment within 8 weeks of commencing employment.

Within the hospitality and tourism sector it is renowned that a significant number of staff are hired for a specific period to cover peak business periods and return to that employer year on year to work.

Employers should ensure that they issue their staff with contracts clearly specifying their employment period with start and end dates. This will ensure that staff do not claim continuous service for several years and will protect your business from exposure to claims such as unfair dismissal, redundancy payments etc.

We are here to help. If you have a question or need some expert help with an employment issue, contact Julie Pollock on 07858089006 or email to discuss further.

You can also connect with us on Linked-In, Twitter or Facebook for regular updates on managing staff.