Creative ‘Labor Pinch’ Solutions from the Lodging Conference

Rosanna MaiettaAt September’s Lodging Conference, among Concurrent Think Tanks was a panel discussion entitled ‘In a Labor Pinch? Working Smarter (Not Harder).’ Rosanna Maietta, who is executive vice president of the American Hotel & Lodging Association and president of its Foundation (AHLEF), shared with LODGING some highlights of their discussion moderated by S. Kirk Kinsell, principal of Panther Ridge Partners.

“One of common threads that came out in this panel was that even though HR is always trying to provide competitive packages, when it comes to Millennials and Gen Z the three basic things are pay, transportation, and flexibility for shifts,” said Maietta, who described some of the ways panelists are specifically targeting these considerations among other efforts to help hire, train, and keep qualified employees amid the challenges of accelerating wage growth and a tight job market.

“What we panelists had in common,” she said, “was trying to find some creative solutions to hiring and retaining talent. For example, I talked about a Foundation grant to Second Harvest a community-based organization training culinary students for jobs in the hospitality industry, who, after completing the program, could be paired with AHLA employers for jobs in the industry.”

However, she said, they discovered that solving the transportation problem of a program grad who got a job as a cook in hotel in Orlando illustrated the need to look outside the box for a solution that would enable him to actually perform the job, which entailed arrival for his shift at 4:30 a.m., when public transportation was not available. The solution in that case, she says, was partnering with Safr, a local ride sharing company.


She noted how two of the panelists’ companies—Beekeeper and Qwick—address the pay and flexibility issues through unique applications requiring only a cellphone. “Beekeeper has an app that employees can put on their device to facilitate flexible scheduling, while Qwick is specifically designed to help those in food and beverage pick up extra shifts, with the added benefit of swift payment processing that enable immediate payment upon shift completion.”

Maietta mentioned other ideas, such as that by Chris Manley, COO of Stonebridge Companies, where they are experimenting with adjusting pay dates to coincide with rent payment dates, and Brad Rahinsky, president & CEO of Hotel Equities, who talked about creating benefits that lead to greater diversity and inclusion.

“Everyone talked about ways to tackle the labor shortage and how to partner with locally based groups or national groups, or tap into programs like those offered by foundation to build and groom current employees and also attract new employees. We’re all looking at what we can do for employees, both basic benefits and ‘shiny bells and whistles’ like gym memberships and Uber allowances that appeal to younger employees.”

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