As 2021 draws to a close and planning for 2022 comes to mind, the hotel industry can reflect on several shifts within the sector and in the wider economy that have left a lasting impact. The dramatic rise of the staycation, greater digitalization of the guest experience, and a heightened focus on health and safety protocols have all driven changes in the day-to-day duties of hotel staff. While the U.S. economy recovered to its pre-COVID size this past July by pandemic stimulus consumer spending, it also delivered a more unsettled labor market with intensified competition for talent amidst ongoing supply chain pressures.
Operating against this backdrop while continuing to recruit, develop, and sustain talent has proven to be a significant challenge for hotel human resources. With the next decade almost certain to bring even more disruptive change, human resources professionals can adapt and thrive in this evolving landscape.
Hiring and personnel practices are likely to evolve in two ways. Hiring internally will be one way to counteract a difficult labor market in the short-term. Through upskilling, human resources teams will focus on building transferable skills among existing employees, enabling them to be transferred to areas with a more immediate need or greater ROI. With upskilling comes the added benefit of bolstered confidence, a greater sense of belonging in the organization, and deeper interpersonal trust in managers, which are all markers of high levels of engagement.
In external hiring, skills sometimes considered secondary to most hotel industry roles are much more likely to be valuable in the post-COVID hospitality sector. These include problem solving, capacity for leadership among a worker’s peers, the ability to thrive under pressure, and even sales or IT competence in dealing with guest issues and concerns.
Employee benefits to attract and retain talent
Benefits will be defined less as “packages” and more as an inseparable part of the employee’s experience. Human resources professionals can position this culture as a way of setting their organization apart, particularly in the case of larger, multi-site hoteliers. The type of benefits offered, particularly in areas like childcare assistance, PTO, and quality health, dental, and vision insurance, will ultimately show employees why they should work for a company. For benefits, hoteliers should note what are the most that can be offered, how they can be positioned to external candidates, and what is missing from the current suite of benefits. Human resources professionals should be prepared to be transparent about benefits.
Continued growth of technology
Digitization will continue to be the best answer to an increasing number of organizational dilemmas related to personnel. For example, a centralized communications platform for non-desk employees—who likely outnumber “desked” workers in environments like hotels—establishes parity between colleagues and allows for innovation in the work experiences of essential staff in maintenance and support. Improved time and labor management platforms and apps with direct communications between members of staff and their managers are two options that deliver immediate ROI.
There are likely more factors to emerge in 2022 that help shape the future for hospitality human resources. But to remain customer-centric, the industry has had to repeatedly shape-shift and adapt to meet the needs of guests where they are. Flexibility and resourcefulness have always been the name of the game, and this is one reality that will never change.
About the Author
Bob Adams founded Adams Keegan in 1987 and currently serves as the hotel practice leader and a director of the company.