Why Invest In Talent? – A post by Mike Williams, People Development Director, De Vere Village Hotels and Urban Resorts

With the continuing need to tighten our organisational belts and reduce costs, employers may ask themselves “do we really need to invest in a talent strategy?”

In my first week at De Vere my Chief Executive asked me to facilitate a plan for business expansion by appointing from within.

At the time, most GM appointments were made from outside the organisation, pushing recruitment costs up and weakening the organisational DNA and culture.  It was clear that a robust talent strategy within our annual people strategy would provide ROI.

To begin, we established what talent looked like within De Vere.  Working closely with the COO we mapped out the top 5 behaviours that underpinned high performance:  commerciality, detailed, driven, inspirational and resilient.

Using an online performance management system, we assessed ‘high performers’ and those with ‘high potential’ by rating all managers against the top 5 behaviours and assessing their potential to progress to a GM position within the next two years. Our top 10% of managers were then invited to attend an assessment day, through which we saw first-hand their performance and potential via a series of exercises specifically designed to review the five behaviours.  We then gave detailed feedback on their areas for development and strengths.

80% of those who attended the assessment day then went on to attend the main programme and a comprehensive series of training days.  Heads of Business each ran sessions on their disciplines,  Stephen Carter OBE (Director of Cameron House Hotel) ran sessions on the link between customer service and employee engagement as did one of our up and coming GMs.  I ran sessions on leadership and networking.  Each person on the programme was appointed a mentor from the executive team and received quarterly reviews with me as well as regular feedback from their line manager.

Early on in the programme we had our first internal GM appointment. This person has performed exceptionally well and shown real determination to succeed.  Over the past three months another three internal candidates on the programme have beaten external candidates to be appointed to take up GM roles within De Vere.

So, back to the original question, why invest in talent?

As a result of the initiative, our recruitment costs are down 80% per annum with 100% return on investment.  Our engagement survey has already shown a 7% increase in leadership and management effectiveness in the last five months.

We now have a real buzz in the organisation about the opportunity for talent to progress, as we have shown direct links between the programme and career progression as well as its compelling commercial returns for the business.  Investing in talent has proven to be a clear win win situation for De Vere.

River Cottage Chef’s School win the Best Recruitment Initiative Award, sponsored by Caterer.com

The hospitality industry turned out in force at the Springboard Awards for Excellence last week, to see who would be crowned winners at this year’s glittering ceremony. Caterer.com sponsor the Best Recruitment Initiative Award, which highlights and rewards the employers who go that extra mile to be the best in the business.

The award, presented by Caterer.com Sales Director Neil Pattison, went to River Cottage Chef’s School, who also took home the New Media Award.

Chris Griffiths, Head of Education at River Cottage Chefs’ School said: “This is a real privilege for us. We’ve only been formed for a year, but delighted to be already making a difference to the youth and unemployed of the South West. We’re all huge advocates of Springboard, so this award is a real honour for the team”.

Anne Pierce, Springboard CEO said of the awards: “After a record number of entries, the judges were set a tough task, not only to go through the sheer volume of entries, but the standard of the entries were  of the highest quality. What a fantastic night of celebration to reward people, organisations and projects that work to raise the profile of the hospitality sector and to attract and retain talent to this great industry.’’

The Winners:

The Springboard Ambassador Award – sponsored by SSP UK

Winner: Joel Fagg (The Puma Hotels’ Collection)

The Best Regional Initiative Award

Winner: Inspired Change Limited

The New Media Award – sponsored by drp Group

Winner: River Cottage Chefs’ School,

The Education Pipeline Award

Winner: Apex Hotels Ltd

Best Student Placement Provider – sponsored by James Hallam

Winner: The Red Carnation Hotel Collection

Best Recruitment Initiative – sponsored by Caterer.com

Winner: River Cottage Chefs’ School

The Young People Award – sponsored by American Express

Winner: The Geoffrey Harrison Foundation

The People Innovation Award – sponsored by LaunchPad Recruits

Winner: Crieff Hydro Limited

Best Chef Strategy – sponsored by HandPicked Hotels

Winner: Hilton Worldwide

Best Management Strategy – sponsored by LifeTime

Winner: Crieff Hydro Limited

Best Food & Beverage Strategy

Winner: Park Plaza County Hall

The Diversity In Employment Award – sponsored by Dunleavy White

Winner: Talkington Bates

Best Career Progression Award – sponsored by LCBT

Winner: Arora Hotel Heathrow

The Retention Award – sponsored by Axminster

Winner: London Marriott Hotel Marble Arch

The Corporate Responsibility Award – sponsored by BonaSystems

Winner: The Brookwood Partnership Limited

Best Employer Award – Charnwood Training

Winner: Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons,

The very special Chris Beaumont Special Award – sponsored by 3663

James Thomson OBE

Stephen Clayton, GM, Arora Hotel Heathrow: “Amazed to be shortlisted, astonished to be a winner”.

James Thomson: “ I feel very humble to be recognised by my peers. This is such a room full of talent and to be part of something that celebrates such a great industry is fantastic”.

For more on the awards click here.

Springboard’s Awards for Excellence shortlist revealed after record number of entries

Ahead of the awards ceremony on November 1st at the Novotel London West, Springboard announce the shortlist of entries who are in the running to win a Springboard Award for Excellence 2013.

Commenting, Springboard CEO, Anne Pierce said: “After a record number of entries, the judges were set a tough task, not only to go through the sheer volume of entries, but the quality of the entries were  fantastic. The judging process also brought several things into focus, namely the amount of innovation and passion this industry holds, but also the opportunities people have to work alongside the companies and people recognised with a Springboard Award for Excellence.”

Adding: “I’m looking forward to an amazing night of celebration to acknowledge great individuals and some spectacular achievements from hospitality businesses across the UK.”

The full shortlist:

The Springboard Ambassador Award – sponsored by SSP UK:

Bobby Lennox (Brakes), Joel Fagg (Puma Hotel Collection)

The Best Regional Initiative Award

Marriott Hotels Limited, Inspired Change Limited, City College Norwich

The New Media Award – sponsored by drp Group:

River Cottage Chefs’ School, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

The Education Pipeline Award

Holiday Inn Norwich North, Apex Hotels Ltd

Best Student Placement Provider – sponsored by James Hallam:

The Cavendish London, Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa, Park Plaza County Hall, The Goring, Crowne Plaza Docklands, The Red Carnation Hotel Collection

Best Recruitment Initiative – sponsored by Caterer.com:

Ed’s Easy Diner, River Cottage Chefs’ School, Ten out of Ten, Premier Inn, Westminster Cluster

The Young People Award – sponsored by American Express:

Lancaster London, Compass Group UK & Ireland, The Geoffrey Harrison Foundation

The People Innovation Award – sponsored by LaunchPad Recruits:

Crieff Hydro Limited, Accor UK Hotels

Best Chef Strategy – sponsored by HandPicked Hotels:

Caprice Holdings, The Royal Horseguards Hotel

Best Management Strategy – sponsored by LifeTime:

Ten out of Ten, De Vere Hotels and Village Urban Resorts, Crieff Hydro Limited

Best Food & Beverage Strategy

Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, BaxterStorey, Park Plaza County Hall

The Diversity In Employment Award – sponsored by Dunleavy White:

Talkington Bates, The Landmark London Hotel

Best Career Progression Award – sponsored by LCBT:

Arora Hotel Heathrow, ASK Italian, The Red Carnation Hotel Collection

The Retention Award – sponsored by Axminster:

London Marriott Hotel Marble Arch, The Brookwood Partnership Limited, PSL.

The Corporate Responsibility Award – sponsored by BonaSystems:

The Brookwood Partnership Limited, Cyrus Todiwala’s Café Spice Namaste, The Landmark London Hotel

Best Employer Award

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons,  Premier Inn, Westminster Cluster, Casna Group

The Brookwood Partnership Ltd

The Chris Beaumont Special Award – sponsored by 3663:

Will be announced on the night

The industry will turn out in force to celebrate a night of successes across the hospitality sector at the Springboard Awards for Excellence – if you’d like to be there, contact the Springboard events team on 020 7529 8610 to get your ticket for the night.

Click here to find out more.

The challenges hotel recruiters face

I recently had the pleasure of meeting with HR heads from some of London’s top hotels, at a Caterer.com breakfast forum at the Charlotte Street Hotel. Not to be confused with Caterer.com’s larger screening room events, this was a bespoke round table discussion to discuss the challenges facing leading hotel employers around candidate attraction and retention.

Unsurprisingly, the most common issue faced by the employers was the recruitment of skilled staff. There were some innovative approaches being taken by those in the room, such as targeting graduates and creating a network of chefs to share across properties within the group. Natalie O’Dalaigh of Duke’s Hotel (one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World) talked about her work developing links with universities and in educating students in applying for jobs, thereby providing a future pipeline of talent for the hotel.

Key to the process of recruiting candidates was the importance of being seen as employers of choice. The concept of developing a strong employer brand has only recently been embraced by many hospitality employers. Those who have seen the value and invested in it have reaped the benefits, with higher attraction rates and lower staff turnover as their reward. There is a distinct knock on effect on customer satisfaction and related revenue too.

Employer brand is often misunderstood as being a concept for those with deep pockets. Not so. Regardless of budget, there are options for every employer to showcase themselves effectively. Exploring more creative ways of attracting candidates, rather than just posting a standard job advert, will give employers a much better rate of attraction success.

Luxury 5 star hotel ME London have been working on identifying and communicating their employer brand to attract the perfect people for their business. They now think creatively about their recruitment advertising and highlight their strong employer brand through videos on their job advertising with Caterer.com.

At the breakfast forum, Derek Gemmell Brown from ME London stressed the need to hire for culture and train for skill and shared the success he has enjoyed with this strategy. There was agreement that recruiters are not doing as much as they should to attract candidates who fit the culture of their business.  Standard job adverts can leave the candidate with no clues as to whether they are the right fit for a company. Employers must give a true impression of the culture of their business through their job advertising, outlining opportunities, career progression and answering the key question candidates will ask: “What is in it for me?”

Another valuable point raised in the briefing was how much effort businesses in hospitality put into consumer marketing and driving occupancy, compared to the effort put into their recruitment marketing. Since an engaged workforce enhances customer experience and therefore revenue, more importance needs to be placed on the content of recruitment advertising.

The hotel employer’s breakfast forum provided a fantastic opportunity for heads of HR in hotels to share their experiences, discuss challenges and come up with some innovative solutions to assist them in attracting the best candidates to their business. A refreshing morning which I look forward to repeating again soon.

If you would like to attend a future Caterer.com hotel employer event you can email me at junior.lewis@caterer.com. You can also follow me on Twitter: @Junior_Caterer

Shortlist announced for the Hospitality Guild Apprenticeship Awards

The Hospitality Guild has announced the shortlisted nominees for its Apprenticeship Awards 2013.

The awards, which are held in partnership with People 1st, recognise and celebrate the achievements of apprentices working in hospitality and emphasise the vital role employers, providers and mentors play in apprenticeship delivery.

This year’s winners will be announced at a ceremony held at the Tower of London on 3 December, with guests including industry leaders and celebrity chefs.

The event will also see new members inducted into the Hospitality Guild’s Young Hall of Fame, which showcases the initiatives and awards of the Guild’s partner organisations and recognises inspiring young professionals working in the hospitality industry. The winners of the Intermediate and Advanced Apprenticeship categories at last year’s Apprenticeship Awards will also be inducted into the Young Hall of Fame.

Sophie Roberts Brown, operations director of the Hospitality Guild, said that there was stiff competition for the awards, with more than 100 nominations received in total.

“The nominations we received this year highlighted the impressive skills apprentices in our industry have, and the way in which their employers, mentors and training providers support them. The quality is just amazing.

“With so many inspiring examples of outstanding talent and support, we’re going to face a number of tough decisions when it comes to choosing our winners to be announced in December.”

The winners of the Intermediate and Advanced Apprenticeship categories and the Mentor of the Year will each receive a mini-iPad and will be offered the opportunity to undertake a specially tailored week of professional development work experience.

Chef proprietor of Café Spice Namaste and well-known television personality, Cyrus Todiwala, will offer one of the apprentice winners to work under his guidance.

The Ritz London and Babylon at the Roof Gardens have also offered prizes to the apprentice winners, while Restaurant Gordon Ramsay’s Clare Smyth, the UK’s only three Michelin star female chef, will offer a day’s coaching to the winner of the Mentor of the Year category.

The shortlisted nominees for the Hospitality Guild Apprenticeship Awards are:

Intermediate Apprentice of the Year

  • Conan Brooks, Charnwood Training Group, Intermediate Level Apprenticeship in Professional Cookery
  • Daniela Ianneli, The Waldorf Hilton, Intermediate Level Apprenticeship in Food and Beverage
  • Jodie Britton, Bristol Marriott Royal, Intermediate Level Apprenticeship in Professional Cookery

Advanced Apprentice of the Year

  • Amy Duthie, Compass Group UK & Ireland Ltd, Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Professional Cookery
  • Ronald Dzepasi, Lancaster London, Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Professional Cookery
  • Connor Black, The Hand & Flowers, Advanced Level Apprenticeship in Professional Cookery

Apprenticeship Mentor of the Year

  • Allister Bishop, Executive Sous Chef, Harrods
  • Brian Lane, Chef Trainer, Barchester Healthcare
  • Linda Hall, Food and Beverage Supervisor, Hilton Warwick

Employer of the Year: Large (more than 250 employees)

  • Lancaster London
  • Hilton Worldwide
  • The Orchid Group

Employer of the Year: SME (less than 250 employees)

  • The Bonnington (Cavendish Hotel) Ltd
  • Moleface Pub Group

Partnership of the Year

  • Hilton Worldwide and Lifetime Training
  • Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and Bournemouth & Poole College
  • Spirit Pub Company and Charnwood Training

The new awards have the full support of the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), the Professional Association for Catering Education (PACE) and the BII (British Institute of Innkeeping).

More information about the awards can be found here.

Springboard ‘Get Inspired’ Taster Day at Flemings Mayfair Hotel – Tuesday 15th October 2013- A Post by Peter Harrison, INSPIRE Intern

Springboard is a charity that promotes hospitality as a great place to work and provides specialist services to businesses within the industry. Springboard’s INSPIRE is the quality standard for work experience within the sector.

INSPIRE has been organising #GetInspired Taster Days with hotels in London. They are designed to give people a feel of what working in hospitality is really like. It is a fantastic opportunity for those looking to work within hospitality to meet people in the industry, explore the potential for career progression and make more informed career choices, as well as have fun!

On Tuesday 15th October, Flemings Mayfair Hotel hosted a Taster Day. A four-star, boutique hotel, Flemings provided the perfect setting for the attendees to get a peek behind the curtains of their hotel. Oliver Brown (General Manager of Flemings Mayfair) spoke of his fascinating journey within the industry. “With so many different opportunities, there is something for everyone!”

The Housekeeping challenge tested observational skills, as the attendees had to find yellow cards, labelled as different objects and hidden around a luxurious apartment. The activity highlighted the sorts of items sometimes left by hotel guests and what should be done if they are found. They included glasses, laptops and even passports. This was followed by the Food and Beverage challenge as cocktail expert, Monika, demonstrated how to make some classic cocktails, before giving the attendees an opportunity to try them out themselves. One of the attendees, an aspiring bartender, was particularly impressed by Monika’s skills, likening her to a Nuclear Physicist.  

We were then given a tour of the hotel and Summiya (HR Manager) and Moses (Food and Beverage Manager) treated us to inspiring presentations and stories of their own personal journeys within the sector. The day ended with a careers workshop delivered by Springboard’s INSPIRE and CareerScope teams, with useful CV and interview advice.

These taster days are a real opportunity to inspire the future leaders of hospitality and we would like to thank all of our partners who have hosted one of these taster days.

INSPIRE is organising more of these fantastic opportunities. If you would like to host a #GetInspired Taster Day please contact Kriya (Head of Work Experience and INSPIRE) by emailing kriyak@springboarduk.org.uk or calling 0207 529 8610. If you are looking to work within the hospitality industry and are interested in attending a taster day, please register your interest here.

Number of Hospitality Jobs Up 38%

Latest report from Caterer.com and People 1st finds number of jobs in hospitality sector up 38% from 2009 and 7% from last year

The number of hospitality jobs is up 7% from last year and 38% from 2009 with 45,000 new job adverts being posted in Q2 2013 according to the latest Hospitality Employment Index report from Caterer.com, the UK’s largest hospitality recruitment website and People 1st, the sector skills council for hospitality, passenger transport, travel and tourism.

Almost 950,000 job applications were made through Caterer.com in Q2 2013 – a 19% rise from Q2 2012 and the highest number for Q2 the site has recorded.

Ufi Ibrahim, Chief Executive of the British Hospitality Association, commented: “Few industries can match the power of hospitality to generate jobs across the entire UK. Whether in remote villages, coastal towns, northern cities, southern resorts or London – hospitality accounts for more than 5% of total employment.  Our industry has the power to generate jobs in every area in the UK.  Few other industries can do the same.”

Competition grows alongside number of hospitality roles

Competition for jobs in the hospitality industry is growing. The report shows that the average number of people applying for each role in the industry is 21 – an increase from 19 applications per job last year and up from 15 applications in Q2 2010.

London and the South East remain the powerhouses for hospitality jobs, with over 11,000 job adverts and almost 13,000 unique job adverts posted in Q2 2013 respectively. However, despite the higher number of jobs on offer, applicants in London had the hardest chance of finding a job with an average of 34 applications per role. Competition was almost as high in the North East, North West and Scotland with 26, 24 and 21 applications per job respectively. East Anglia had the least competition with 11 applications for each position.

Growing need for a strong brand experience

While the Hospitality Employment Index report indicates that there is no shortage of applications for jobs in the sector, employers continue to experience challenges in finding candidates with the right skills, attitude and experience – and the right candidates that fit their brand.

Ian Burke, Website Director of Caterer.com, explained: “As the hospitality market is highly competitive, creating a strong brand experience enables companies to differentiate themselves. Customers have increasingly come to expect this unique brand experience and naturally, this has changed employer’s recruitment attitudes and tactics. Forward thinking employers now look to recruit brand ambassadors – people who embody the feel and ethos of the company from day one and then go on to grow through focused training.”

Brian Wisdom, Chief Executive of People 1st, concluded: “Job advertisements are rising and strong job competition remains, suggesting that the hospitality industry is continuing to attract people. However, behind everything there is an underlying need to both attract the right people to the industry and then ensure they are incentivised to stay.  One method of doing this is via apprenticeships; they offer a structured route into employment and can help foster a culture of career development within an organisation.”

The quarterly Hospitality Employment Index report from Caterer.com and People 1st is available to download free of charge at: www.Caterer.com/HEI

Simplification of Visa Applications presents excellent opportunities for Britain to grow tourism receipts and jobs says Ufi Ibrahim, CEO of the BHA

News of Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement to simplify visa applications for Chinese tourists will have widespread implications across the tourism and hospitality industry in the UK.  The changes, we believe, will allow the UK to compete internationally and ensure that we can build and strengthen the bond between our two countries at a commercial level.  Closer to home, we envisage excellent opportunities for Britain to grow tourism receipts and jobs.

China’s role as an economic powerhouse and key player in the global market is well-known.  It’s the world’s second biggest economy and the largest exporter of goods.  Experts suggest that China still has the potential to grow dynamically for another two decades.  Indeed, by 2023, it is predicted that China will be the largest outbound tourism economy in the world.

Indeed, as China continues its rapid expansion, Chinese tourists are continually seeking new experiences, often through overseas travel.  According to the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), China is the world’s 3rd largest tourism spender and in 2012, spend by Chinese tourists abroad jumped by over 42% to a total of £6.7bn. The EU, including the UK’s competitors France and Germany, welcomed more than 1 million visitors from China last year; that’s a significantly higher number than the UK.

Visiting the UK, has – to this point – been perceived by Chinese tourists as expensive and complicated and it is estimated that the UK’s loss to competitors in 2012 was £1.2bn.  Osborne’s announcement, however, means a far simpler visa application process.  A 24-hour ‘super priority’ visa service will be available from summer 2014, while a mobile visa scheme that already operates in Shanghai and Beijing will be expanded as part of the changes.

The BHA, together with support from the UKCVA, the CBI, Institute of Directors and the British Chamber of Commerce has been proactively lobbying this issue for some time, campaigning for swift visa reform which makes it easier and less expensive for Chinese tourists to visit the UK.  In addition, the BHA has been working directly with the Home Office and the UK Border Agency to identify the issues and their impacts on the UK economy.

Therefore, news from the Chancellor of the changes in simplifying the visa application process means that we, as an industry, now have the opportunity to welcome the Chinese traveller to our shores.  This represents a significant market opportunity for the hospitality and tourism industry on both a European and international scale, generating tourism receipts and jobs in the UK.

Click here to find out more about the BHA.

Drumroll….it’s time for Photos of the Best Employers in Hospitality Awards 2013- A post from Photographer Susannah Fields

Another year and another room full of buzzing, happy, and rather dashing, hospitality professionals all gathered last week at the very glamorous Lancaster London Hotel for the 2013 Best Employers in Hospitality Awards. Hosted by Caterer.com, the evening started off with a drinks reception, followed by a delicious three-course meal and hilarious entertainment by Hal Cruttenden.

The awards then kicked off to a room full of excited guests waiting with anticipation to see if they would be winning tonight. There’s no denying that the voice of Alan Dedicoat (best recognised as the voice of Strictly/ Lottery) reading out the awards added to the drama of it all.

A fabulous evening, gorgeously lit by the lighting team and organised by Caterer.com…. don’t forget to follow #BestEmployers2013 and check out the official website and congratulations to the overall winners Jolly Fine Pubs Ltd.

Restaurant Recruitment – an evolving approach… – A post by Roy Walker

The restaurant sector are utilising various innovative tools and means to attract and recruit the best talent to their businesses in a competitive market. Recruitment is no longer about job ads for job titles, salary and location with job descriptions. I have worked with restaurant employers changing their approach over the past two years from recruiters putting expectations on candidates meeting their requirements in a “job ad” to more of a marketing (the recruiter) and customer (the candidate) approach where the emphasis is on what expectations the candidate demands of the employer – training & development, a great environment to work in, opportunity for progression, benefits & perks: all of which create an employer brand. This employer brand is being communicated through more imagery and creative rather than wording. The best recruiters are behaving more like marketing experts – utilising Emarketing and banner advertising. The more employers think, behave and approach the candidate jobseeker audience like their businesses do with their customer audience the better. I know these restaurant employers are making good on their reasons they are an employer of choice to attract the best talent; to retain that talent. With the Best Employers in Hospitality Awards 2013 winners announced recently we can expect some big campaigns from the winners promoting the Award as a central reason why they are an employer of choice.

For live case studies of campaigns I work on with top restaurant employers follow me on Twitter: @Roy_Caterer

Roy Walker, National Account Manager, Caterer.com

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