Change is afoot in hospitality recruitment, and going beyond skills and hiring for cultural fit is a step in the right direction says

Ed Pyke, Cluster General Manager at Premier Inn, in discussion at roundtable

“Ours is a nation obsessed with food but no-one wants to cook it,” says Marco Reick, HR Director of Bill’s Restaurant, reflecting on one of the biggest challenges facing hospitality employers right now.  With UK unemployment levels at 5.1%, it’s a well-known fact that hospitality is facing a skills crisis.

Reick, with 10 other HR and talent acquisition chiefs from across the sector, came together at a recent employer roundtable event.  Here they debated the challenges and trends facing the sector right now.  The scrapping of CVs, hiring for cultural fit over skills and the morphing of customer and employee brand experience were just some of the hot topics up for debate.

What’s evident is that attracting the right candidates is tougher than ever.  The knock on effect is an industry-wide evolution that means HR professionals are embracing cultural fit when it comes to recruitment.

“Gone are the days of basic skills-based CVs and formal interviews,” says Premier Inn’s Ed Pyke.  For entry level roles, cultural fit rather than skill is the recruitment method of choice and one used by Drue Hammond at McDonalds Restaurants. Elsewhere, the experiential recruitment events and peer-to-peer interviews implemented by Premier Inn and The London EDITION are just the start.  “Engaging potential employees needs to give them a brand experience from the off,” says The London EDITION’s Charlie Brodie.  What’s more, “training employees to be brand ambassadors provides opportunities for self recruiting through peer-to-peer interviewing,” says Firmdale Hotel’s Jessica Berry.

Premier Inn HR Business Partner Sam Goode believes that “an element of our industry backbone is shifting.  It opens up opportunities and new ways of thinking.”

Clearly cultural fit is more important than ever.  In a highly competitive job market good cultural fit to company values and goals is crucial.  Getting it right can boost both recruitment and retention rates.  What’s clear is that branding and recruitment are increasingly going hand in hand.  The disconnect in years gone-by between employer brands and consumer brands no longer has a place.  As Itsu’s Annabel Nash says, “the cultural and experiential values of the company need to be aligned internally and externally.”

It is evident that while hiring for cultural fit is imperative, there are no certainties in this fragile economic environment, where the ebb and flow of market forces and the strategic direction of new CEOs and visionaries make for an environment of flux and change.  Planning for the future workforce in these circumstances needs flexibility, an innovative approach and an open mind.  Culture needs to evolve but core values need to be set.

What’s clear is that change is afoot in hospitality recruitment, and going beyond skills and hiring for cultural fit is a step in the right direction.  However, there’s still a long way to go, and as Firmdale Hotels Jessica Berry explains, “successful recruitment tools are no longer just about getting people through the door”.  Beyond the HR remit, there’s a PR and education job to be done when it comes to attracting talent to the industry, and as McDonalds Drue Hammond concludes, “there’s a cultural shift taking place in hospitality that’s evident in recruitment processes.  It’s no longer a matter of attracting good people but retaining them.  Cultural fit is more important than ever.”

The Round Table Debate Hiring for cultural fit:  going beyond skills was hosted by at The Hospital Club, Covent Garden and attended by:  Annabel Nash, Head of Resourcing at itsu; Ed Pyke, Cluster General Manager West London for Premier Inn; Marcus Weedon, Head of Recruitment for The Ivy Collection; Marco Reick, HR Director of Bill’s Restaurants; Drue Hammond, HR & Resourcing Manager for McDonald’s Restaurants; Paul Macfarlane, Resourcing Partner at Pizza Hut Restaurants UK; Charlie Brodie, Head of Talent & Training for The London EDITION; Jessica Berry, Talent Manager for Firmdale Hotels and  Sam Goode, HR Business Partner at Premier Inn.  The event was facilitated by Rachel Mellors, Managing Consultant for Cubiks UK and hosted by Roy Walker, Account Director for

Register for our webinar on ‘Hiring for cultural fit: going beyond skills set’ and hear from Marco Reick, HR Director, Bill’s Restaurant who will deliver a best practice case study presentation.

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