Recruiting Labor for Hospitality Post-COVID-19

Thoughtware Article Published: Aug 09, 2020
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It’s no secret that employers within the hospitality industry have had difficulty finding and retaining labor in the past. With the current economic conditions and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 crisis, the hospitality industry is facing increased difficulty finding and retaining labor for the future. Employers have been forced to reduce their staffing due to this crisis. Many of their previous employees have turned to federal aid during these difficult times. At the beginning of the crisis, Congress enacted an extra $600 benefit each week for those receiving unemployment benefits. This has since expired; however, recently new legislation has been proposed for further relief. It’s still unclear what the outcome will be due to current negotiations. The question becomes, how will the hospitality industry incentivize its labor force to return to work after the crisis is over if workers receive more through unemployment benefits? 

One solution would be to increase wages. However, profit margins in the hospitality industry have historically been slim. Considering the current economic climate, increasing wages is likely not an option. The focus of employers within the hospitality industry must shift away from wages and concentrate on the goals and values of the demographic they’re trying to recruit.     

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, the median age of the workforce within the hospitality industry was 31.9 years. Only 28 percent of employees within the hospitality industry were age 45 or older. It’s important to determine the goals and values of the company’s key demographic within the workforce as they relate to their careers. Doing so will help organizations recruit and retain high-quality employees in the future. People entering the workforce are interested in more than just decent wages. They’re looking for a career that provides flexibility and work-life balance. They place high value on a sense of fulfillment, including social activism. 

Additional flexibility in the workplace can come in many forms. This could include anything from allowing part-time hours to a compressed workweek. Creating a schedule that works around employees makes them feel valued. It creates a loyalty toward the employer that’s currently lacking in the hospitality industry. This increased flexibility also can help create a better work-life balance, which is appealing to potential employees. When people feel like they’re planning their life around their job, they tend to be less happy to go to work. However, with flexibility comes a sense that they’re fitting their job into their life. This makes people excited to go to work and be more productive while there. There are additional costs related to higher flexibility. In the long term, the increased productivity and lower rates of employee turnover will outweigh the costs. 

People entering the workforce today are placing more emphasis on working for an employer that has the same values as they do. They want to work for a company they can trust, who they feel is making a positive contribution to society. There are many ways employers within the hospitality industry can contribute to important social causes. One option is allowing employees to volunteer their time during work hours. Some employers even go as far as organizing volunteer activities through organizations that are important to the company and its employees. There are many possible levels of involvement, but it’s becoming clear that this involvement is invaluable. When employees feel they’re getting more value from their career than just wages, they’re more likely to be happier and, in turn, produce a higher level of service. 

With higher wages out of the question, employers will have to look to other ways to recruit employees. A person who’s getting more from their career than just wages is going to be more likely to stay with that company. They’re more likely to enjoy their career and produce better service and greater benefit to the company. There are many ways to increase the value employees receive from their daily work. While some have higher costs than others, it’s important to focus on the benefit the employees and employers will receive in the long run.

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