EP Insights & Action


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Have we entered

the performance and

talent revolution?

Martin-Christian Kent, Executive Director at People 1st explains how their

research shows that many are having a rethink on how to maximise staff value.

It’s a challenging time to be dealing with HR issues in the hospitality industry, but with those

challenges come opportunities.

Research we’ve conducted with 40

leading hospitality companies shows

that many are rethinking the way

they maximise value from their staff.

Central to this are interventions to increase

retention and performance.

Many businesses describe themselves as

being “on a journey”, and that journey signals a

break from the ways things have been done in

the past. For many, the focus on staff retention

and performance is a logical response to

rising staff costs, recruitment difficulties and

changing employee attitudes. In essence, the

old ways are no longer working effectively.

Most hospitality businesses would argue that

they have always focused on retaining talent,

but our research clearly highlights that they are

now doing so on an unprecedented scale. While

businesses’ retention strategies differ, they are

increasingly broad and far-reaching, including

rethinking how to have a genuine, two-way

dialogue with staff and tailor contracts, hours

and benefits to suit different needs.

Businesses are harnessing technology to

facilitate this engagement, allowing staff

and employers to communicate with one

another in ways that were unimaginable a

decade ago. At the same time, businesses

continue to invest heavily in effective people

management skills to ensure staff are fully

engaged and motivated.

Businesses are also looking to make their

progression opportunities more transparent

by promoting both vertical and horizontal

opportunities. Through interactive maps, staff

can also access appropriate training and pay

increases are often linked to the successful

completion of appropriate training. This is

something we have seen our clients value

very strongly.

In addition, the apprenticeship levy and

reforms have led many large businesses

to rethink how they can maximise

apprenticeships. We’re seeing a clear shift to

higher-level apprenticeships that are used

to support retention and progression, rather

than simply being used as an entry route.

For many years, People 1st has highlighted

the strong link between high labour

turnover and skill gaps, and how they are

undermining productivity levels within the

industry. Businesses are now much more

likely to focus on staff retention, training and

development to increase performance than

they have been in the past, but some are also

looking taking a much wider view.

A number of businesses are looking afresh

at their HR strategies as part of a wider reengineering

of their customer journey and

experience. Technology is changing the way

a business interacts with its clients and, as

part of this, some are looking at ergonomics,

job design and their processes to increase

customer satisfaction, spend and return

business. Whilst doing so, they are also placing

more emphasis on increasing productivity.

As many employers acknowledge, this

rethinking of HR approaches is a journey.

Some are further along than others and it

may take a while before the industry reaches

its destination. However, not only will these

changes deliver real benefits to a business,

they should have a positive impact on the

industry overall.

Hospitality is likely to reduce its demand

for labour as a result of better retention, as

well as becoming a more attractive career

destination. Both will be critically important

as unemployment continues to fall and we

prepare to leave the EU, making the labour

market even more competitive.

This break from the past is likely to

continue to have positive repercussions for

the effectiveness of HR approaches in the

industry. There has probably never been a

more challenging time to work in hospitality

HR – and it has certainly has never been under

so much scrutiny and measurement – but,

equally, its impact on business effectiveness

has never been as fully appreciated as it is

today. In other cases, businesses are beginning

to ask questions about whether they need to

start thinking differently.

26 | Insights & Action | July 2017

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