Hire once: Finding great staff requires new approach
Hire once: Finding great staff requires new approach
29 MARCH 2017 7:10 AM

When hiring new staff, consider transparency and using new-age technology to better reach your potential employee pool.

The fact is that as hoteliers, we are only as good as our people. That means hiring and retaining the best possible staff are critical keys to our success.

A lot is at stake: the smooth operation of any individual hotel; our relationships with owners, investors and any brands that we represent; and the guest experience.

This is never easy, but changing social norms and the continuing evolution of new communication techniques and technology tools make it even harder. Wage pressures and competition with other service and sales industries pose challenges in certain markets. Our available labor pool seems to be more disparate than ever with respect to demographic tranches, personality types and career motivations.

With that in mind, how do we guard a diverse talent pool through our daily needs, while still encouraging and taking advantage of the qualities that attracted certain candidates to us in the first place?

At the same time, today’s best and brightest are a technology-savvy lot, extremely proficient in using internet job sites and smartphone or tablet apps to search for a job and, for that matter, to manage their lives. The question becomes, are we equally so?

Let’s look at some issues that affect talent acquisition, as well as how today’s best technologies can help with that task.

Mutual attraction
Today’s potential employee pool requires those of us looking to hire good people to cast as wide a net as possible when searching for candidates. This means not relying on just one general site such as Indeed.com, Glassdoor.com, LinkedIn.com, Monster.com, etc., or more specialized ones like Hcareers.com or hospitalityonline.com. Much like today’s guests, who are looking at and touching so many channels to find rooms, so too are people that are looking for work.

Similarly, we must be creative in our own “reverse-job search,” which means honestly examining how we assess candidates for positions. A professional appearance is certainly required, but are we overlooking outstanding candidates by being too rigid in requirements for appearance factors including facial hair, piercings or tattoos? Are our benchmarks based on service and enthusiasm, or conformity? Can we accommodate individuals who want to work flexible schedules or who only need a limited number of hours of employment, like a college student or a senior citizen looking to supplement his or her income?

Regardless, it is in our best interest to broadcast for positions against a broad internet canvas. Thus, hospitality entities are well-served by maintaining employment pages on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, which then lead individuals to web sites and job application portals.

Most importantly, we must make sure to tell “our story” on social media and home pages in an engaging, honest way that conveys what our organizations are about, our zest for hospitality, why people should come to work for us and what opportunities we offer. Hospitality is an exciting, energizing industry employing over 8 million people and offering great career opportunities, and that message must ring clear in our engagement with potential team members.

High-tech acquisition
Now, things get even more interesting. In fact, with the proper use of the ever-evolving technology mentioned before, we can integrate the offering-canvas for applicants to the job application process, interviewing process, hiring process and right on through payroll and benefits signup and initial training.

These systems can be outsourced to technology specialists, including payroll processing companies. The advantages of such systems, conducted through a secure portal, include:

  • They are fully integrated and customizable;
  • candidates can be ranked for succeeding steps of review. Those not meeting requirements receive prompt notification and referral to other positions within the organization, as appropriate;
  • scheduling interview appointments, with the interviewer referring to screens with pre-prepared interview questions;
  • auto-generation of drug testing and background checks;
  • initial training modules, including basic orientation and employee’s manuals; and
  • full interface to payroll processing, HR benefits enrollment, tax information and the like.

In addition to the operational efficiencies and economic savings, the advantages of systems like these include the ability to create secure, property-specific portals, a “helpful” standardization that fosters employment practices compliance and the ability to generate alerts when any expected employee inputs or signoffs are late or missing.

In practice, these efficiencies allow corporate staff to concentrate on working with managers and staff one-on-one during site visits, as opposed to chasing down audit items.

Most importantly, these technological solutions are just that, technology. Hospitality organizations must be willing to invest the time and insights needed to “populate” different modules, which includes providing meaningful content for social media pages and web sites, applicant interview guides or training materials. These systems can be as robust as we want, or as weak as we allow them to be.

A final thought on the future of employment
We are in an enviable position. The hospitality industry continues to perform well, with a solidly financed, favorable stock of properties. Hospitality groups regularly earn high marks on “best places to work” surveys. Simply put, we are important job creators for the economy.

The contributions of our people, their skills, motivations and loyalties are an important part of our formula for success. We can help ensure this future by taking advantage of today’s best Information Age technologies, understanding social media and the internet-based employment landscape, as well as respecting—and encouraging—the individual abilities and qualities of newcomers to our industry.

Kerry Ranson, a 21-year veteran of the hospitality industry, is chief development officer at HP Hotels.

The opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Columnists published on this site are given the freedom to express views that might be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

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