Candidates, (especially former hospitality workers), are becoming increasingly unwilling to join the hospitality sector because they believe flexible working is not an option.
It’s, therefore, no surprise to find that flexible working initiatives feature heavily in the hiring strategies of successful hospitality employers seeking to be more attractive to talent.
We are also seeing innovative approaches to job design, compensation, head-hunting, and the deployment of technology to attract talent. By peeking over the shoulder of HR teams, we will find many, ready-made hiring strategies, or even some inspiration from top employers in the industry.
See some of the top unique and innovative hiring strategies for successful hospitality companies we found and get some ideas of how to attract talent in this increasingly competitive industry.
In our recent hiring report on the hospitality sector, we highlighted the RAM Agency which is Youngs pub chain’s very own internal agency and an excellent example of innovation in recruitment to attract and retain staff. Candidates can go to the RAM Agency portal and view shifts and build a rota to suit their lifestyle across their 210 pubs across the south of England. They target a diverse audience as you can see in this excerpt from their out-reach literature on the RAM Agency portal:
‘Whether you’re a student, parent, creative, or want to earn some extra cash on top of your 9-5. We understand you have other commitments, so we don’t tell you when to work, we let you tell us!
Again, this opens the door to candidates who might not normally have applied and allows Youngs to retain/rehire people who might otherwise have left for the competition.
A new working holiday scheme was launched in the southwest of the UK this summer in the Bournemouth, Poole, and Christchurch areas. It is a collaboration between the International Education Association (IEA), a regional group of providers, and the BH Area Hospitality Association (BAHA).
‘’The scheme places people who wish to improve their language skills to an intermediate level into one of the accredited English language schools in IEA, followed by paid employment in the hospitality sector following completion of a language course.’
This pioneering initiative utilizes the UK’s Youth Mobility Scheme visa. Under this scheme people aged 18-to-30 from 11 participating countries, (Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Japan, Korea, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino, and Taiwan), can travel, study and work in the UK for up to two years.
In our recent industry report on the hospitality sector, we highlighted that over 11,000 UK Employers, (including 50% of the FTSE 100) pay the voluntary Real Living Wage. This is calculated by the Living Wage Foundation and is higher than the government’s mandatory minimum wage and reflects the true cost of living. Being an accredited Living Wage Employer makes a public commitment to fair pay and clearly distinguishes such employers from the competition, making them more attractive to candidates, particularly so in this cost-of-living crisis.
Speaking on businesscornwall.co.uk, Co-Founder and Company Director of Rick Stein Restaurants, Jill Stein, announced the launch of their new super-flexible, no-obligation working scheme to help stand out from the crowd in the hospitality job market. Employees can work for as little as one shift a week and applicants of any age and experience are welcome to apply. This seems an excellent way to attract a new cohort of people into hospitality who otherwise probably wouldn’t have applied!
Koncept Hotels have used technology to take flexible working to the next level by reducing the requirement for face-to-face contact. They have some fascinating pilot projects running in several of their properties which function entirely without staff. Everyone apart from the housekeeping staff can work remotely. A cloud-based system automates payment, reservations, check-ins, and night audits. Hospitality staff here can have much higher levels of flexibility than a typical role in the sector, giving it broader market appeal.
Mckinseys’ research revealed that hospitality roles are becoming more multi-faceted, career-orientated, and rewarding as a result. Employers are deliberately trying to shake the image of hospitality being a low-paying, career-dead end by promoting it as a profession using apprenticeships. Greene King, one of Britain’s largest pub chains is taking on 5000 apprentices by 2025 in a leveling-up statement of intent, which emphasizes careers over jobs, making them more attractive to a more modern, more aspirational candidate marketplace.
The hospitality sector is subject to seasonal surges in demand and therefore recruitment activity. The most effective employers use Applicant Tracking Systems to automate and augment the high-volume hiring process, enabling them to shortlist, schedule interviews, track candidates, and communicate with minimum effort. Our research shows that hospitality employers who use ATS for volume recruitment hire better quality people in a shorter time and with a reduced labour overhead.
The Dorchester luxury classic hotel in London now ‘warm calls’ all applicants to help close the deal to great effect. Speaking in HR Magazine recently, Emma Jayne the area director of people & culture at The Dorchester Collection explains their approach:
“We are now receiving a scarily smaller number of speculative applications when we advertise for a position. We pick up the phone and, we take a personal, bespoke approach to each potential candidate. We talk to them about who we are and what we can offer as an employer. This personal approach is so compelling that we find we are hiring double figures on a weekly basis now.”
The post-Brexit skills gap means that the hospitality sector no longer has easy access to a supply of ready-made hospitality talent from the EU. As the Brexit skills gap becomes clear, UK hospitality employers are beginning to focus on apprenticeships to train the talent from scratch. This year Hilton Hotels took on 350 new apprentices (including apprentice chefs), 250 more than it took on in 2022.
The talent shortage proved so extreme last year that hospitality employers began offering massive sign-on bonuses in the run-up to Christmas 2021. The number of hospitality jobs offering sign-on bonuses increased by 443% since May of that year and included the likes of Angie’s and D Grande, the Coniston Hotel in Skipton, and Galeta, a bakery in Hackney, Harrys Bar, Mayfair (£2,500, Cote Bistro chain, (£2,000).
The candidate marketplace has changed so much post-pandemic that it has rendered the hospitality employer value proposition obsolete. Successful hospitality employers are now abandoning the status quo and adopting progressive, even radical hiring practices to attract talent in an extremely competitive labour market.
Many of these hiring strategies may transplant straight into your organisation after a little tweaking. Alternately, they may just be used as inspiration to enhance an existing policy. Download our newly published State of Hiring in the Hospitality Industry Report for 2023. Packed full of insights obtained from the hiring practices of over 60 hospitality companies in the UK.
Occupop is a beautifully simple recruitment software. At Occupop, the automation and digitisation of the recruitment process for hospitality companies has been our key area of focus for the past 6 years. We have helped healthcare companies like the PREM Group, Dakota Hotels, Dunkeld House Hotel, Ten Square Hotel Group and many more, across the UK and Ireland, turn manual, laborious volume hiring processes into efficient, candidate friendly digital experiences.
Try Occupop, the recruitment software for hospitality companies today with a free 14-day trial. We’ll have you up and hiring in hours, not days.