The Hospitality Recruits | By Sharad Kapur – Hospitality Net – Hospitality Net

Purple bands on LinkedIn have been a far better visual than the multiples of greens we witnessed in the recent past. While hospitality recruitment has taken a turn for the better, it is another story that the COVID era has upended the hospitality talent landscape completely.
Is the potential labour proactively choosing hospitality? There are many stories where restaurant workers are leaving mid-shift. It has become harder to get people to return to hospitality, now that some of those have found greener pastures in other industries. It is an understandable sentiment.
One cannot deny that layovers and turnovers are a way of life in a highly competitive world. Hospitality is one of the first industries to suffer from a slowdown in economic activity. Unprecedented lockdowns, closure of borders, and furloughs impacted the workings of the current workforce. This impact will also be felt, by the future generations of hospitality workers who are aware of these times.
Leaders from the hospitality world started reaching out to potential hires through different channels when the need for hiring became evident. They encouraged the workforce by giving examples of careers built from ‘Entry-level positions’ to a ‘General Manager in this industry.
A mammoth task faces the industry leaders. Building trust will require more facetime and frequent messaging to the current and future workforce. It will require a think through of challenges that face hospitality labour in the post-COVID-era.
No one can guarantee employment and ensure that the world will not face catastrophic events in the future. There is a lot to learn from the events of last year and the changing needs of the current and future workforce.
Can organizations continue to remain agile and map out a strategy that makes them more efficient? The sudden rush to save costs led to creating a distinction between essential versus non-essential work. Will this continue? Before the hospitality industry rushes for the recruitment drives, it will be worthwhile to focus on the operating model and what can sustain through disasters and reduce the pessimism around career longevity in the hospitality industry.
What is Essential vs non-essential work, and in what form non-essential will return?
With a stronger urge to be based near loved ones than ever before, the hospitality industry has tough decisions ahead when it comes to its workforce planning and workforce flexibility. The closure of borders and the inability of families to return home when needed the most emphasizes recruitment of local labour. The preference has shifted to work remotely or from home. It pushes hospitality to create work concepts that are flexible and do not require physical presence. Many functional roles can be performed remotely, thus leading the way to sustain talent within the industry. However, the mainstay of the hotel, ‘Operational Associates’ will always be needed on the shop floor but in a technologically advanced environment.
I learnt this term recently and cannot understand how it can be an effective communication strategy for companies. Ghosting is the norm these days faced by individuals who had been adversely affected by COVID. Those employed are inundated with messages and with constrained resources find it difficult to respond in time. However, it is incumbent upon leaders to act emphatically towards job/network seekers to eventually build positive sentiment for the hospitality industry.
The industry has always taken pride in its mentorship, connections, and relationships, and more efforts are required to connect with the disenfranchised.
Human Resources
One of the most critically important and yet highly complex is the Human Resources function. It is no more a support department but is at the core of instituting the fundamentals.
The change in designation of Chief Human Resources Officer to Chief People Officer indicates changing times where the young recruits want organizations to be truly multicultural, diverse in their character and sustainable in their orientation. It cannot be a mere lip service or namesake assignments. COVID times have changed the landscape in which we operate rather dramatically, and companies need to reimagine DEI and how effectively it integrates the talent pool?
The HR function is inundated with work, processes, legalities, training and development and cannot be operating on thin margins. It needs to evaluate its operating structures and shed some weight which may seem essential but can be outsourced. Culture transcends organizations and requires dedicated leadership to drive the change in collaboration with Human Resources. Individuals want to know how their work is valued and how they are recognized. Thus, the culture of an organization can be a great pull.
In this light, the process of recruitment takes centre stage. A rethink around handling recruitment objectively, innovatively and transparently will create a positive and lasting impact on all industry hopefuls. Whether the recruitment is managed via AI software, recruitment consultant, or HR personnel, its interaction must create a long-lasting positive vibe. If the department of Human Resources is over-loaded, then it deters and alienates workers.
As the industry slowly returns to its normal levels of demand and revenues, it will require a coordinated effort at multiple fronts to create sustainable places to work. The churn may continue but will the industry aim to recruit loyalists again?
Sharad Kapur is a Commercial leader with more than 20 years in the hospitality industry and has overseen regions of ASPAC, EAME, and LATIN and been based out of key global cities, including Chicago, Zurich, Dubai, and Mumbai. A graduate of Cornell University’s Master’s program, he has been at the forefront of leading commercial operations in Revenue Strategy, Distribution, and Sales Operations and has managed a variety of brands, including luxury and lifestyle.


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