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5 Strategies for Combating the Hospitality Staffing Crisis

Staffing shortages have taken quite a toll on the hospitality industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Leisure and Hospitality employment has risen somewhat in recent months; however, it is still 1.2 million jobs lower than in February 2020. It’s not just recruitment and hiring that is the problem. Since the pandemic, attrition is at an all-time high. In fact, a report by the US Chamber of Commerce stated, “the leisure and hospitality and retail industries have had the highest quit rates since November 2020, consistently above 4.5 percent.” 

Customer experience is the backbone of the hospitality industry. You need passionate people you can trust to tend to the needs of your guests. So how do you cope in the face of these staffing challenges?

1 – Invest Internally

To meet the demand for workers, some hotels have offered incentives such as increased wages, better befits, and flexible working hours. One hotel brand even went so far as pay for employees’ tattoos if they stayed on for a minimum of six months. A survey conducted by American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) revealed that while these measures have resulted in some success, the majority of respondents (97%) say they are still having trouble filling open positions. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), warns that 412,000 US industry jobs will remain unfilled this year.

A pay raise and additional benefits are effective incentives, but work environment is the number one reason people leave jobs. According to MIT, “A toxic corporate culture… is 10.4 times more powerful than compensation in predicting a company’s attrition rate compared with its industry.” But how do you know whether your people are unhappy?

Consider hiring an external HR professional to assess your company culture. Tools such as a “Stay Interview,” (discussed below) can reveal startling truths and even easy fixes that can reduce attrition.

2 – Listen to Your Staff

Employees are used to being given period performance reviews. These are often fraught with anxiety, even for the highest performers. What if you turned the tables? 

Hand up to ear in "listening" gesture

In her article about “Stay Interviews,” Professional Hospitality Coach Shelley Hastings advises hotels to consider having a third party survey the workforce to find out their opinions on workplace improvements. Toxic management practices can fester when job scarcity is high. Fear of retaliation means that your upper management may not even be aware of any issues. 

Stay Interviews can also reveal simple fixes like “better chairs in the break room” or “more onboarding” that could lead to improved morale, higher productivity, and lower attrition rates. According to Hastings, “[Stay Interviews] ultimately may help to improve your team morale and retention, hiring and training practices, company culture, service delivery, standards of excellence, and profitability.”

3 – Expand Recruitment

According to Data USA, the majority of hospitality front desk staff are in their mid-twenties. Flexible scheduling, professional development opportunities, tuition reimbursement and other incentives could widen the recruitment pool to attract retirees and college students. Providing diversity and inclusion training for your recruiters can also help ensure that potential employees are made to feel welcome and therefore more likely to accept offers and recruit peers.

4 – Embrace Technology

New technologies are helping hotels to become more efficient, minimizing friction between staff and guests, and leveraging staff time for maximum effectiveness. Contactless check-in, mobile phone applications, and electronic guest service options are just a few of the options available. Skye, an AI-powered virtual agent from Tyme Global, for example, can handle routine guest service requests and answer frequently asked questions without the need for human involvement. 

 5- Consider Outsourcing

It may be counterintuitive to suggest outsourcing for hotels. You can’t outsource a chef or a concierge. What you can do is free up some of your (already spread thin) front desk staff’s time by outsourcing your PBX/Guest service calls. Why let the front desk phone ring unanswered or guests waiting to check in glare at staff taking a phone call (instead of helping them) if you don’t have to?

Remote call center agents can help facilitate a great guest experience at a fraction of the cost of another warm body in the hotel. At Tyme Global we do all the recruitment, training, and monitoring for you. We answer internal and external calls seamlessly, as if we were on property. We can dispatch housekeeping, engineering, in-room dining, or any other service request 24/7. If there is an escalation we will transfer the call to someone on site and send whatever alerts are necessary.

Workforce shortages are not likely to let up soon but travel is on the rise. By investing in and listening to your people, expanding recruitment, embracing technology, and outsourcing calls, you can not only meet your current needs but position yourself for future growth. Travel is recovering, so let’s be ready to greet new and returning guests with a smile.

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