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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