During the company’s 2020 Americas Business Conference, Radisson Hotel Group executives spoke to owners and operators about how to handle the competitive labor market.
LAS VEGAS—While Radisson Hotel Group’s portfolio comprises mostly franchised hotels, it does own and operate a handful of properties in the Americas, which company executives said gives them a better feel for the labor shortage struggles their franchisees are experiencing.
Of the 640 hotels Radisson has in the Americas, 625 are franchised, COO of the Americas Aly El-Bassuni said during a news conference at the company’s 2020 Americas Business Conference.
For these hotels, labor is a particular challenge.
“Unemployment is at an all-time low, and the labor market is very tight,” he said. “Let’s face it—in our industry, people work nights, overnights, weekends, holidays, and we have to compete with that and we have to compete with more competitive comp structures.”
During one of the conference’s general sessions, Chief Human Resources Officer Rebecca Lieberman said talent recruitment, training and retention strategies are key.
“It’s about finding the right people with the right skills at the right moment to deliver on our promise every moment,” she said. “Our people are our most valuable assets. They run our hotels. They welcome every single guest walking through our doors. Our people ultimately determine our success.”
The labor market is the tightest the industry has seen in more than 50 years, with more than 1 million jobs currently vacant in the hospitality field, she said. That mean’s competition for employees is higher than ever.
Radisson hotels have staffing levels that range from 15 employees in some of its select-service hotels to 105 at its full-service properties, Lieberman said.
Recruiting for those positions can be aided by technology, such as an applicant tracking system that helps hiring managers stay organized. Online social media and job sites also help bring attention to open positions, she said.
Compelling job descriptions are an important part of any online posting, she added.
“Job seekers spend an average of 49.7 seconds determining if a job posting is right for them,” she said. “That means you have only one minute to make an impression.”
Job postings should give applicants actionable information, such as where to go and what to do, Lieberman said. The most important and appealing information about the job, such as flexible schedules and the hourly wage, should lead the post, instead of a list of job duties.
Local community groups, veterans’ organizations and community placement organizations can also be resources for talent, in addition to colleges and vocational schools, she said. Family members and friends of employees are also potential employees, and employers can offer recruitment rewards to employees who refer candidates.
Having a competitive compensation package helps attract talent, she said. Beyond wages, perks such as vacation days during an employee’s first year, birthdays off or a signing bonus after the probationary period can set employers apart.
Training and onboarding
Managers need to create a genuinely welcoming experience for each new employee from the moment they start a new job, Lieberman said. Starting a new job can be intimidating, but managers who think back to their first days can relate and come up with ways to reduce that anxiety for new hires. An email or text can help make new employees feel welcome and provide instructions, such as what to wear and where to go, she said.
“Some of our hotels use their own phones to create a department video, welcoming the new hire to the team,” she said. “Again, a cost-effective yet engaging way to make that transition a little less scary.”
Radisson has created a buddy program for its employees, pairing new hires with a go-to person to connect with during the first 90 days, she said.
Employee retention is easier than recruiting new employees, Lieberman said.
“Retention is basically continuing to help employees feel welcome and excited to be at work each and every day,” she said.
Of employees who quit their jobs, 79% said lack of appreciation was a major reason for leaving, she said. That gives credence to the saying that people don’t quit jobs, they quit their bosses.
Front-line leaders and workplace culture are key to making employees feel valued, she said. The culture needs to be modeled from the top down, and employees need to be aware of it and what is expected of them daily.
Employees at all levels want feedback, especially about the good things they’re doing, she said. Managers should talk to them about their aspirations and motivations.
Radisson introduced a new performance management approach that focuses on open, continuous and value-added feedback, she said.
Retention also improves when company culture values inclusiveness, she said. Radisson celebrates diversity in its hotels through regular activities related to events such as Black History Month and initiatives around women in leadership. The company also established employee resource groups to create forums for inclusiveness, she said.
“Retention is about those meaningful relationships and connections,” she said. “It’s about genuinely caring and looking for ways to help employees connect with one another. To keep your workforce stable, take the same care for your employees as you do for your guests.”