NYU SPS and BCG Research Hotel Industry Labor Shortage and Solutions

NEW YORK—In a recent collaboration, the NYU School of Professional Studies Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) released a whitepaper titled “Overcoming the Talent Shortage in the U.S. Hotel Industry,” which focused on the continuing dilemma of this shortage and its ramifications while proposing solutions that would serve to accommodate changing worker priorities. The whitepaper was grounded in input from industry leaders, including the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), as well as the results of a survey of 1,197 current, former, and prospective hotel industry employees, and employees in related industries including restaurant and retail.

“We are, once again, greatly energized about the critical research the Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality and Boston Consulting Group have been able to conduct through this collaboration. The findings provide helpful insights to leaders in the hotel industry as well as a defined path for moving forward,” said Nicolas Graf, Jonathan M. Tisch chaired professor and associate dean, NYU SPS Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality.

The research confirmed that the U.S. hotel industry continues to be affected by the aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and that labor shortages have resulted in the hotel industry reducing concierge and shuttle services, food and beverage offerings, and other guest benefits to counter the high costs of having to hire labor at premium prices. It also shed light on the following:

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  • Most important factors when considering a hotel job by cohort, with pay and flexibility being leading factors for entrance and retention, as well as inclusion and belonging to a lesser degree.
  • Leading routes into the U.S. hotel industry, which indicated that for both current and former hotel employees, their route in was through referral.
  • Current employees’ perceptions about the hotel industry, which revealed that “current employees are more positive about the industry than any other cohort. They believe more strongly that employees are valued; they have a stronger sense of belonging; and they are more likely to feel that employment in the industry is accessible, provides valuable skills development, and offers good opportunities to build a successful career.”
  • Primary reasons why former employees left the hotel industry, which included compensation and benefits being the primary reason, followed evenly by identity and self-development, workplace climate, and flexibility and workplace balance.

What was clear from the research conducted and published in the whitepaper was that the industry as a whole can become a far more attractive employer by taking action in certain well-defined areas, however, decision-makers should keep in mind the differing opinions, goals, objectives, and needs of individuals who are considering working in the field as compared to current employees, as well as those who have left the industry.

“As the hospitality industry continues to rebound from the effects of COVID-19, it is especially critical that hoteliers understand and implement innovative talent acquisition and retention practices,” said Tom McCaleb, managing director and partner, Boston Consulting Group. “According to our latest survey with the Tisch Center, a majority of hotel workers agree that the industry offers valuable developmental opportunities to help them succeed in their careers. That said, these workers are calling for more flexibility, transparency when it comes to pay, and clearer career pathways in order to maximize the appeal of work in the hotel industry. Our latest research examines actionable practices the industry can deploy to attract new talent while retaining the strong employees already in the field.”

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