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Hospitality employers adapt to a changing People Awards 2017

With some of the best restaurants and hotels in the world, the UK Hospitality sector boasts amazing standards and quality of service. The industry is one of the UK’s biggest employers, providing jobs to seven percent of the working population and – despite an approaching Brexit – business continues to be strong.

It’s a fast paced, ever-changing business with candidates becoming more decisive in what they want from their employers. Applicants are negotiating their own salaries, selecting their benefits and shaping the career path that’s right for them. In addition, the well-documented skills shortage is still being felt across the country and, when Brexit is factored in, hospitality companies have work doubly hard to stay connected and relevant to this new brand of candidate whist still being able to recruit the right people for the job, develop their skills and retain valuable experience. Employers need to utilise inventive methods to attract the talent they so desperately need amidst high competition.

The finest of these initiatives in hospitality recruitment, retention and development were celebrated on October 5th, at the glittering People Awards. Comedienne, Katherine Ryan hosted the ceremony at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge which was attended by 500 industry professionals.

Best practice by employers garners best results: the winners of these prestigious awards demonstrated determination and an unrivalled understanding of their industry and their workforce.

After its success last year with In-House Recruitment, this year the National Theatre won the Candidate Experience award. Considering that 55% of The National Theatre’s commercial workforce is casual, their current retention rate of 70% is quite an accomplishment. National Theatre has taken a creative and innovative approach to recruitment in recent years and they pride themselves on an open and inclusive policy. They have achieved much success with their focus on ‘Audience Experience’. Their candidate training programme allows staff to engage in several roles across the commercial department making for a more varied and exciting working environment and the National Theatre’s internal promotion rate is an inspiring 75%.

Living by their watchword, ‘Seva’, Indian street food restaurant, Dishoom won two awards, Rewards & Benefits and Launch Campaign. Leaving London for the first time, Dishoom opened their new restaurant in Edinburgh this year. It was a massive gamble for this young company to venture to what could have been a difficult location in a much smaller market. They designed a PR campaign announcing new jobs for the city, they also reviewed all recruitment adverts to ensure the pitch was exactly right for Scotland. They also set up dedicated Edinburgh recruitment channels and hired a local marketing manager. In a wonderful move, unsuccessful applicants were invited back for breakfast on the company, reinforcing their employer brand. Dishoom received 1,200 applications and hired 100 new team members. Their employee turnover this year has been an amazing 30%. Dishoom’s Rewards & Benefits entry also impressed the judges. Dishoom are delighted to offer their team members £150 a month to spend on food and drink with family and friends at their restaurants. There are frequent team days out, lunches, theatre trips and parties. Dishoom has introduced healthcare benefits which covers day-to-day healthcare costs. In team surveys, 90% of management teams said that they were proud to work for the company and management turnover has fallen to below 15%.

Totally revolutionising their recruitment strategy, YO! Sushi now puts brand values and its candidates at the centre of their processes. In doing so, it walked away last night with the award for Leadership in Recruitment, Retention and Development. In an extremely strong showing, YO! developed a brand new candidate platform which showcases just what it’s like to work at YO! Its website now features live career opportunities and stories from YO! Icons, giving a real taste of the company. Their Brand values, Respectful, Unconventional, Colourful and Confident have been brought to the digital fore and are front and centre in online applications. Time to hire management roles has fallen from eight to just five weeks and the volume of live opportunities has fallen from a monthly average of 15 to under 10.

This year saw the introduction of a new award focusing on Diversity, which was won by Compass Group. Compass Group launched the ‘Women in Food’ programme in 2016 to enable women not just to secure jobs within hospitality, but to thrive and succeed in leadership team positions with a goal of equal numbers of male and female chefs within the organisation. ‘Women in Food’ concentrates on three areas of development: focus on female chefs; developing women in leadership positions; and a strong emphasis on supporting Mums returning to work. Within the first year of the programme, Compass Group has achieved a result of 36% female chefs, 49% attending talent development programmes and 42% of women on the company’s chef apprenticeship programme versus a target of 50%.  A hugely impressive result.

The climax of the 2017 People Awards ceremony was certainly the presentation of the very special Ambassador to the Industry Award to Philip Atkinson, Senior Community Food Service Manager at Durham University Catering Department. With a distinguished 30 year career in hospitality, Philip invigorated his brand in what could traditionally be seen as an “unglamorous” career choice. He has completely re-imagined his department to attract, engage and excite candidates from all backgrounds. He has achieved impressive results across retention and development as well as fantastic outreach and sustainability programmes. Philip is undoubtedly a much loved and respected leader, a true Ambassador to the industry, fully deserving this award in recognition for his achievements.

These and many other amazing initiatives are testament to the dedication that hospitality employers have to their businesses and importantly, their employees. Over the coming months, we’ll be talking to each of our amazing winners and taking a close look at their work. People Awards are the perfect opportunity for employers to not only celebrate their teams and their hard work but to share with each other what they have learned, enabling this amazing industry to grow.

The 2017 People Awards wouldn’t have been possible without the invaluable help of its sponsors, Headline Sponsor, Octane HR Solutions, Hotelympia 2018, Admiral Recruitment, Core Recruitment, Off to Work, Detail 2 Leisure Recruitment, People Bank, Talent Hive and Good & Co. People Awards 2017

Winners in full

Ambassador to the Industry sponsored by Octane HR Solutions

Philip Atkinson – Durham University Catering Department


Candidate Experience sponsored by Off to Work

National Theatre


Diversity sponsored by Admiral Recruitment

Compass Group


Emerging Talent Initiative sponsored by Fresh Montgomery, producers of Hotelympia 2018

Q Hotels


Employee Engagement Programme sponsored by Good & Co.

LEON Restaurants Ltd.


Employer Brand Campaign sponsored Catering Scotland

Devonshire Hotels and Restaurants


HR Team sponsored by Talent Hive

Dorchester Hotel Ltd.


In-House Recruitment Team sponsored by Admiral Recruitment



Learning & Development Initiative sponsored by The Springboard Charity

Brewhouse and Kitchen


Launch Campaign sponsored by Detail 2 Leisure



Leadership in Recruitment, Retention & Development sponsored by COREcruitment

YO! Sushi


On-Boarding Programme sponsored by Peoplebank

LEON Restaurants Ltd.


Rewards & Benefits sponsored by James Hallam