There are so many economic, technological and political factors that are putting job seekers in control today. Massive job boards and social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn offer easy one-click applications and greater transparency for candidates to assess a company without even having to interview. All of this combined with a healthy economy has many employers – especially in the hotel industry – wondering if they’ll ever be able to have a sense of selectivity or lasting confidence in the workforce that they hire.
With the job seeker in control, it’s up to employers to make their case as to why they are the best company to work for long-term. In my experience, the best way to do that is to invest in your employees’ career and skill development. My company has worked with Fortune 500 clients in many different industries including energy, consulting, retail and advertising. For one large consulting client, we found that over three years, individuals using our development platform completed 25-30% more of the skill milestones needed for a promotion, stayed at the organization 30% longer, and got promoted at almost double the rate compared to their peers who didn’t use our platform. The reason is quite simple. If you properly identify the skills, experiences and behaviors required to advance, provide full transparency on those things, and personalize the experience with a custom career roadmap, you will find that people are more motivated to work towards those goals and – consequently – find success.
I’ve also found that hospitality holds a remarkable amount of promise when it comes to employee growth potential. First, it is a people-centric business. Even though automation is making its way into every business, at the core of hospitality is people. Second, hospitality is one of the few industries that can credibly attest to the fact that entry-level employees have the opportunity to work their way up to executive-level positions, including CEO.
Employees who thrive in the hospitality industry are also prime recruitment targets for other industries because of the underlying skill of customer service which is both highly transferable and highly sought-after. You have many healthcare, property management and financial service businesses realizing that in order to differentiate themselves in the market, they need to have people in their business that truly understand the customer experience. They are seeking to hire professionals from the hotel and restaurant industries into their company. So, for hotels who want to keep their most valuable employees, the best thing to do is to invest in their personal career growth, so that when they’re ready to grow, they’ll grow with you.
But professional development within any given industry, including hospitality, is not one-size-fits-all. Not all employees who start their career as a bartender, a housekeeper or a valet have the same skills and goals as other bartenders, housekeepers and valets. To truly know what it takes to keep an employee satisfied and excited for the future, you have to get to know them on a personal level. That means from the very first recruitment interaction, you have to know if they’ll be a good culture fit and if they have the right experience and skills to do the job at hand. Then once you hire them, you have to show them what possibilities exist for someone in their role, and then work with them to help them develop the skills they need to move forward.
This is both a very personal process, but also one in which big data and AI technology can help. Today, most hiring decisions are made with very little applied intelligence around skill, culture or personality fit. A lot still rests on ‘gut feelings’, which are very important but can sometimes overlook a skill or knowledge gap. The HR industry is beginning to see more tools that can provide more intelligence because of the way they collect data through the recruitment and application process. As more and more applicants provide their data to a platform, the platform can learn what skills, experiences and values will be a good fit for a given role or company.
If hotel and hospitality employers want to find employees who will excel at the job and show potential for long-term growth, they need to begin thinking about the long-term before a hire is made. Assessing a candidate’s skills, experience and potential for growth from the beginning is an important first step to 1) getting to know the candidate on a personal level, which will help with the creation of a personal career plan and 2) ensuring that the candidate has the potential to see and work towards growth in the industry.