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Successful Hotels Hire Successful Employees

by Rick Welch, July 2009

The first baby boomers, whose sheer mass has been described as the pig in the demographic python, will reach age 62 in 2009 and start retiring. There won't be enough so-called baby busters to replace them in the work place especially in the hotel business. Several reports predict as many as 10 million more workers will be required by the end of this decade. 

Potentially dire circumstances for small hotel companies? Could be. But don't panic. Do, however, take time to examine your employment needs for the next five years. Specifically, think about hiring the very folks who are traditionally scheduled for retirement.  Seniors!

While 50-plus workers are sometimes maligned as costly, less productive and set in their ways, recent studies upend many stereotypes. And increasingly, hotels' first-hand experiences demonstrate older workers can continue to do the job.

Fortunately for growing hotel corporations, there is a happy convergence: More seniors want to work, and employers need their talents. In some cases, their skills are preferred over younger workers.

About eight in 10 boomers plan to work at some time during the traditional retirement years, according to a 2007 AARP survey. Thirty percent of these "silver collar" employees are expected to work part-time for their own enjoyment. Many relish the social interaction and stimulation of the workplace and the feeling they are contributing to a productive and honorable enterprise.

Another 25 percent of boomers, some still recovering from the devastating stock market losses of the last two years, expect to toil for economic reasons. Many haven't saved enough for retirement and need to work. Many have already have lost their homes.

If boomers do indeed work during the traditional retirement years, it will be welcome news for many employers. According to a 2007 AARP survey, 58 percent of HR managers say it is more difficult today than five years ago to find qualified hotel job applicants. More than half of these HR managers believe their companies are likely to confront a shortage of qualified workers in the next five years.

Coincidentally, many older workers are blessed with the skills and assets companies are seeking:

Experience. They have the know-how gleaned from years on the job and weathering business-cycle dips, management trends and different bosses. Their institutional knowledge alone means hotels won't have to spend time and money reinventing the wheel.

Work ethic. According to one AARP study, 50-plus employees are more likely to demonstrate dependability and perseverance and remain task-focused. Those traits offer a good model for younger workers.

Customer service. Many hoteliers are hiring older employees because they are more emotionally mature and can better relate to customers. Happily, research indicates verbal communication, among other skills, increases with age.

Customer identification. A number of hotel companies with older customers are hiring more seniors because they can identify with clients' needs.

Loyalty. Unlike younger employees, seniors are less likely to job-hop. And fewer turnovers save considerable money. One estimate is that it costs 50 percent or more of an individual's salary to interview and train a new worker for a position.

Motivation. Older workers are among the most motivated in the workplace. In fact, employees over 50 were more motivated to exceed job expectations than younger workers. Highly motivated employees were described as "extremely likely" to satisfy customers, affect product quality and control costs.

While older workers aren't as likely to deliver mold-breaking new ideas, they are better than their younger brethren at "experimental innovation" -- developing fresh ideas that stem from current practices. 

Their attributes often more than counterbalance perceived deficits. For that reason, 50-plus employees should not be ignored, especially during an expected worker shortage. Indeed, some firms are already aggressively seeking older workers. One indication of that pursuit: In 2007, 14 companies applied to be on AARP's list of top employees for mature workers. Last year, the organization received 145 applications.

Since many seniors won't have to work, they will be picky about where they end up. Many are attracted to flexible arrangements, including part-time and seasonal work and phased retirement, which enables them to withdraw gradually from the workforce. 

Smaller hotel companies and hotels would be well advised to seriously think about their future employment needs today. If they do that, they will be better positioned to compete for the talent, including older employees, who will help them compete in tomorrow's workplace.

Rick Welch CHA, CHME tailors practical solutions for today's challenging business climates based on a comprehensive knowledge and extensive experience in all facets of contemporary sales and marketing development. This includes multi-unit and multi-franchise management, training, and e-commerce marketing. 

Rick Welch CHA, CHME

Also See: A Hotel Sales and Marketing Action Plan that Will Yield Immediate Results / Rich Welch / June 2009



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