CIPD Level 7: Resourcing and Retention Strategy Proposal

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Resourcing and Retention Strategy Proposal

The below is a module submission for the CIPD Level 7 certification, kindly shared by one of our clients to help you on your own HR journey. This submission is about resourcing and retention strategy proposal.

1.0 Executive Summary

As a rapid growing budget hotel chain, we are at a pivotal moment in our evolution, and our success in providing the high-quality service our customers have come to expect is reliant upon our people being adequately equipped to provide that experience. We have been facing some resourcing issues, in particular with our managerial and reception staff where we have seen higher turnover than we would like. 

This is particularly acute in in the South East and London where we currently have a shortage of staff resulting in staff working extra hours. We don’t want to see these staff experience burn-out, or worse still get poached for other roles in industries such as Telecommunications which have been known to target hospitality staff in their recruitment drives. 

We know we have discrimination cases pending which could be potentially damaging to our reputation as an employer and it is unfortunate that the main retention issue has been with women in those reception and managerial positions. It has come to the point where we can no longer deny there appears to be an underlying issue with regards to our culture which we need to explore and address.

This report outlines in more detail the challenges we are facing within the context of the broader labour market and proposes some actions that we can proactively take to remedy the situation across the wider hotel chain. It should be noted that whilst we will always look for ‘quick wins’ to remedy our people challenges, in this situation I am convinced that taking a longer-term approach to our resourcing and retention strategy is what is needed. 

2.0 Introduction 

Since its inception in 1985, the budget hotel sector in the United Kingdom has experienced accelerated growth. Following Brexit, the weak pound made the UK an affordable destination for international tourists and due to continued austerity, families have increasingly chosen staycations over holidays abroad, benefiting hotel occupancy rates, particularly in budget brands. 

In terms of revenue, the UK was the second largest market for budget hotels in the world in 2018 (https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200109005365/en/Global-Budget-Hotels-Market-to-2023-Market-data-insights-on-the-global-luxury-hotels-industry—ResearchAndMarkets.com). 

Whilst we continue to be in a period of growth, we are facing a number of people challenges specifically relating to our recruitment and retention, which are outlined below: 

 

Human figure Jigsaw pieces fitting together
It’s important to understand the challenges facing recruitment today

 

  • We have set high customer expectations of experience which our employees need to service.
  • The working conditions are difficult, with long hours and inconsistent work patterns and we know we know that unsociable hours and extensive responsibility is the major contributor to our high turnover rates.
  • We have difficulty retaining women, particularly in managerial and reception roles, which are business critical and we should take a more approach to the breadth of diversity of our employees, not just gender balance.
  • We have pending discrimination cases which are of potential damage to our brand and reputation as an employer of choice.
  • Our recruitment methods could be improved and we could look for different ways to attract and on-board talent.

The budget hotel market is fiercely competitive and in 2007 it was predicted that the market would treble by 2027 (https://www.travelweekly.co.uk/articles/26119/budget-hotel-sector-to-treble-in-size-by-2027). I see this as a huge opportunity for us to become the employer of choice within the budget hotel industry through taking a proactive approach to the development of our culture, starting with our existing leaders, as I will highlight later.

3.0 Report Findings and Recommendations

Taking the challenges highlighted above into account, outlined in the next section are a number of suggested proposals to adopt a new approach to our resourcing and retention strategy. 

Employer Brand

As I alluded to whilst outlining the challenges we are seeking to address, I believe that taking a holistic approach to our recruitment and retention through a strategic approach to developing and changing our culture would be commercially beneficial for us. Whilst we continue to see recruitment costs in isolation of the high cost of turnover and potential legal costs from discrimination charges; not to mention the damage to our reputation and the impact continual staff changes has on our customer service; we are missing an opportunity. 

We know that traditionally the turnover issue faced by HR managers in the hospitality industry is that the employees may move to competitor hotels for higher wages, more benefits and promotion in fierce competition (Chan & Kuok, 2011; Ferreira & Alon, 2008). As our reward package is above the norm for this part of the sector, I don’t believe that people are leaving us because of this, although we should look to gather more information during the Exit interview process. I believe that it is more likely that people are leaving because we haven’t done enough to create a culture of belonging. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory (1943) in the context of workplace culture has long been supported by academics and whilst originally employment fell into the Safety category, today Maslow’s hierarchy in business is relevant to the upper levels of the pyramid, with ‘belonging’ applying to culture (https://digital.com/how-to-become-an-entrepreneur/maslows-hierarchy/).

If we were to take a longer-term approach towards investing in our internal brand to become an employer who people love working for, we would turn all of our recruitment and retention issues around. It is proven that a good reputation of a brand plays a critical role in retaining talented employees (Leng, 2013). We can learn from larger hotel chains who have successfully built employer brands – Hilton being perhaps the most well-known. If an employee genuinely loves their job, it can result in the hotel’s profit increasing by 12% and turnover dropping by 24% (https://www.thetravel.com/popular-hotels-with-happiest-staff/).

In addition, whilst offering a wide variety of career opportunities, the hospitality industry has been categorised as offering a low-level wage. According to the TUC, despite the industry’s rapid recovery after the recession, median earnings barely rose in real terms between 2008 and 2017 (https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/low-pay-hotel-and-accommodation-sector). However, I do not believe this to be of significant concern as we have already addressed this issue through our review of reward packages.

Over the last decade, widespread use of staffing measures such as zero hours contracts, subcontracting and outsourcing has resulted in poor working conditions for many hotel workers, likely due to the fact there is a high degree of manager discretion in setting up working conditions (López-Andreu et al, 2019).

It isn’t obvious whether the organisation has ever set out clear values and expected behaviours for people to measure themselves against but this is a proven model for success. We could approach it in the same way Netflix did, working with the operational managers and department heads to embed the expected behaviours (McCord, 2017).

Recruitment 

If we set out a strong set of values, they can also be used as a recruitment tool according to the Attraction-Selection-Attrition (ASA) Model (Schneider, 1987; Schneider 1995) which suggests that job applicants will be attracted to and selected by those organisations whose values are similar. We do not want to create ‘corporate clones’ but setting out clear expectations of the behaviours we expect from them and the culture they can expect to work within in return will help us attract more candidates who are likely to be a match, thus reducing rapid turnover.

In order to successfully recruit for behavioural expectations and cultural fit, we could look to partner with a recruitment platform which is proven in the hospitality industry, such as Hireserve (https://hireserve.com/hospitality-recruitment-software/) or Harver (https://harver.com/solutions/industry/hospitality-recruitment-software/). The brief we give to them should incorporate our other desires around attracting a diverse workforce and reduce the potential for unconscious bias with local recruitment drives. 

We know that word of mouth and other traditional recruitment methods are still important in the hotel industry but we should learn from the larger hotel chains who make use of online recruitment (López-Andreu et al, 2019). In addition, if we get the culture right amongst our existing staff and leaders, the sense of pride they will have at working here will help to attract friends and family members to join them as co-workers through social media advocacy. It should be noted here that this cannot be achieved by the HR department alone and it is vital that you as the HR Director influence the other senior Directors and encourage them to support this change of approach as it will only be successful if it is owned and adopted consistently throughout the operation by all levels of leaders.

In all of our recruitment activities we need to be more up-front about the roles which require unsociable hours or that have a necessary degree of flexibility and ensure we recruit candidates who are happy to sign up to this. We should ensure we are aware from the very beginning of people’s employment what other commitments they have outside of work (for instance caring duties) and ensure these are documented centrally so that people who are unable to flex their working hours are not asked to. Of course, people’s circumstances can and do change, therefore line managers and supervisors need to be regularly (at least monthly) having a one to one chat with each member of the team to keep this information up to date.

Outreach – Education and Hard to Reach Groups

Volunteers hand huddling in the centre of their circular formation
Outreach programmes are important to certain industries

 

In 2018 it was highlighted by that the UK’s hospitality industry and hospitality education were suffering from multiple political, economic and funding impacts which are having an adverse effect on recruitment to jobs and courses (https://insights.ehotelier.com/insights/2018/11/08/uk-hospitality-education-in-decline/). 

We are yet to see the impact of the UK leaving the EU, however with a high concentration of migrant workers in the hospitality sector, it is undoubtedly a concern so we must be proactive in attracting more employees to want to come and work for us.

Finally, we are seeing a drop in the number of school leavers enrolling onto hospitality programmes in the UK because the salary is not as competitive compared to other industries. In addition, those graduates who we do manage to attract can often lack a service mentality and require additional training during induction to get them up to scratch (Zhang and Wu, 2004). 

I suggest we look to partner with an education provider such as colleges or universities who offer hospitality courses to provide candidates with opportunities for work experience and employment after graduation. In addition, we can offer our managers to the colleges to support teaching curriculums and improve the understanding of what it is actually like to work in the hotel industry. This should manage younger people’s expectations and potentially reduce turnover from staff who leave after a short period of time because they didn’t understand the demands of the industry they were joining.

In addition, we should explore harder to reach groups who are proactively seeking employment opportunities. For instance, partnering with a charitable organisation such as Forward, who rehabilitate people with past substance abuse disorder and offenders back into the workplace. These individuals are highly motivated to work and the hospitality sector has being identified as a key sector to help ‘bridge the gap’ between our skills gap and the desire for these individuals to return to work (https://www.forwardtrust.org.uk/media/1456/bridging-the-gaps-final.pdf). 

Induction 

As the CIPD states: ‘Induction is an opportunity for an organisation to welcome their new recruit, help them settle in and ensure they have the knowledge and support they need to perform their role. For an employer, effective induction may also affect turnover, absenteeism and employer brand.’ (https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/people/recruitment/induction-factsheet).

The old adage ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression springs to mind here and we should ensure that every new recruit to the business is inducted into our business in a consistent way. I suggest that our induction programme needs to be centred around our culture, values and expected behaviours.

We have recognised that ‘soft skills’ such as teamwork and communication are crucial to our sector, yet are not always addressed in college courses and universities. They are also persistently overlooked in relation to hard skills outlined in the Government Industrial Strategy (https://www.ukhospitality.org.uk/page/WorkforceCommission). Therefore, my recommendation is to develop an induction programme that develops communication and interpersonal skills and has a focus around providing the best guest experience possible for our customers.

We should follow the best practice of the CIPD and ensure it is tailored to each employee, that we drip feed relevant information over the course of their first few weeks, so as not to overwhelm. I would also suggest we use our own employees to inspire new recruits and talk to them about their positive experiences of working here. If we have a number of new-starters joining us we should organise a breakfast or lunch for them to mingle with existing team members. For individuals we should look to adopt a ‘buddy’ system with longer service members of staff providing a caring hand as they get to know us. 

Diversity 

We should couple this with a different approach to our flexible working policy which would in turn facilitate more opportunities for diversity at all levels. I recommend we introduce different approaches to flexible working such as job-sharing and shifts that align with the school working day, as well as making sure people with caring commitments are on set shifts and not part of the overtime pool. To address peaks and reduce the need to call upon our own staff for excessive overtime, I suggest we look to recruit a flexible pool of people who we could call upon on an ad-hoc basis. 

The hotel industry has been associated with poor working conditions, low pay, long working hours, a lack of employment flexibility and insecurity (Baum, 2006; Warhurst et al., 2008; Janta et al., 2011). There are high staff turnover rates, particularly amongst women, as we have seen recently amongst our Reception and Managerial roles. It is not a question of attracting women, it is the challenge of retaining them – particularly following maternity leave (https://www.people1st.co.uk/getattachment/Insight-opinion/Latest-insights/Female-talent/Women-working-in-the-hospitality-sector-report-Oct-2017.pdf/?lang=en-GB&lang=en-GB). Whilst this trend is not unique to the hotel industry, the key challenge is around the ability to offer a consistent approach to flexible working hours. Whilst we continue to frequently change people’s shift patterns it is impossible for someone who is a parent with caring commitments to easily manage childcare. 

However, it could be to do with another issue that the TUC have highlighted, which is abuses of power such as sexual harassment, which they cite as being ‘rife in the industry’. Our pending discrimination cases are by no means unique. Whilst there is a low union presence in the sector, we should not ignore the possibility of this contributing to the high number of females leaving the business. Having a diverse workforce is of commercial benefit and as it stands with mostly an all-male management team, we are not able to realise these benefits. 

As a growing hotel chain, we should be looking to redress the gender balance amongst our leadership community and at a senior level, look to sign up to and take note of the best practice highlighted in The Diversity in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure (HTL) Charter (https://www.pwc.co.uk/hospitality-leisure/documents/women-in-hospitality-travel-and-leisure-final-report.pdf).

I would suggest we invite our female employees to join a focus group to understand in more detail what their specific concerns are. The main reasons for women to leave their jobs are work-life balance conflict, and poor opportunities to advance (Deery and Jago, 2015). We could look to establish a Women’s Network to proactively support them in readdressing the gender balance across our management community. We can’t make assumptions about why the numbers of women in senior positions has reduced so I suggest we undertake some internal research and take action as a result of their feedback. 

We do know from other industries that taking proactive steps to keep in touch with women during maternity leave, talking to women due back from maternity leave and redesigning job roles and responsibilities are proven ways to retain women who might be concerned about juggling parenthood and career pressures. 

As already suggested, we should look to offer job sharing opportunities at supervisory and management positions. The key here is once again establishing clear lines of communication with supervisors/ managers and employees through regular performance reviews, clear career pathways and succession planning (https://www.people1st.co.uk/getattachment/Insight-opinion/Latest-insights/Female-talent/Women-working-in-the-hospitality-sector-report-Oct-2017.pdf/?lang=en-GB&lang=en-GB ).

Leadership and Employee Engagement

Taking a consistent approach to our leadership development across all levels of management and supervisory positions is going to be critical in embedding all of these recommendations. Alongside performance management activities which are centred around regular employee one to one meetings. It has been suggested that hotel management should be committed to the servant leadership style, because the psychological capital is positively related to the retention of salespeople in hotels (Karatepe, 2017). 

If our leaders have a consistent approach and embed the values and behaviours we set out clearly, we can be confident that inappropriate conduct won’t be tolerated. If performance doesn’t match expectations, line managers will be equipped to nip it in the bud and if necessary follow capability or disciplinary processes.

Additionally, statistics suggest that happy hotel employees lead to greater productivity and profitability (https://www.siteminder.com/r/trends-advice/hotel-management/guest-service-staff-hotel-happy/#). We should encourage our leaders to create a positive work environment and provide supervisors and managers with communication skills training in employee engagement. 

Employee Engagement Equation written on a blackboard by MBM
The Employee Engagement Equation helps to understand how effective employees can be

 

In addition, there should be a concerted effort to increase the amount of social interaction with employees, for instance recognising employees’ birthdays (perhaps with a bonus day off for their birthday) and organising social events around holidays and festivities during the year. 

Learning & Development 

Since the products of our industry are experiences, attracting and retaining qualified employees is vital to our success (Moncarz, Zhao, & Kay, 2009). Despite low costs, there is an expectation of customer service experience which has been driven up in recent years with budget brands such as Premier Inn offering a ‘good night’s sleep’ guarantee. 

Therefore, hotel staff need to be adequately trained in interpersonal also known as ‘soft skills’ of communication, listening, empathy and conflict resolution. The Human Resource function plays a crucial role in equipping employees with these skills to enable them to provide adequate customer satisfaction, loyalty and positively impact business performance (Baum, 2015). 

Employee development is at the heart of successful talent management and we know that employees prefer to work in companies with advanced training programmes for career development (https://www.hrmorning.com/articles/career-development-in-demand/).

We should look to develop and grow our talent from within by developing clear career pathways focused around the needs and desires of guests. We can learn a lot from the Hilton Elevator graduate scheme in terms of looking for opportunities to offer our employees development through on-the-job training and job-swaps, as well as classroom-based learning.

Annual employee appraisals are usually the cornerstone to establish the areas that need to be strengthened by training programmes but if we capture information from the monthly one to ones we will be able to move more quickly and run more of a bite-sized approach, offering our employees development little and often.

4.0 Conclusion

As I have explained in the report, I do not believe there to be any quick fixes to the issues we are facing; instead it is a longer-term strategic approach to our resourcing and retention that is needed.

Overall, I suggest we take a ‘people-centric’ HR approach and take the opportunity that we have in reviewing our resourcing and talent strategy to overhaul the culture to such an extent as it to be something of a competitive advantage. Think along the lines of Virgin and Google – both of whom have made their businesses employers of choice largely because of the great working environment and culture they have cultivated, even in sectors that have typically been difficult to recruit and retain people. 

In summary, this is taking the following steps:

  • Reviewing our employer brand and culture to improve the employee experience, increasing loyalty and retention (learning from best practice in other sectors).
  • Recruiting according to cultural fit, using industry recognised platforms.
  • Facilitating greater diversity through introducing different approaches to flexible working such as job-sharing.
  • Partnership outreach with hospitality colleges, universities and charities who support people with past substance abuse disorder and offenders with rehabilitation back into employment.
  • Soft-skills training and existing employee interaction during induction.
  • Leadership development across all levels of management and supervisory positions.
  • Improving employee engagement, building a sense of belonging and teamwork.
  • Career progression pathways and the introduction of informal performance management discussions for every employee

I look forward to discussing these ideas further with you at your earliest convenience. 

5.0 References

https://www.ukhospitality.org.uk/page/WorkforceCommission

https://www.ibisworld.com/united-kingdom/market-research-reports/hotels-industry/

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200109005365/en/Global-Budget-Hotels-Market-to-2023-Market-data-insights-on-the-global-luxury-hotels-industry—ResearchAndMarkets.com

Moncarz, E., Zhao, J. and Kay, C. (2009) An Exploratory Study of US Lodging Properties’ Organizational Practices on Employee Turnover and Retention. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 21, 437-458

Baum, 2015; https://pureportal.strath.ac.uk/files-asset/41206714/Baum_TM2015_human_resources_in_tourism.pdf 

https://www.travelweekly.co.uk/articles/26119/budget-hotel-sector-to-treble-in-size-by-2027

Baum, T. (2006) Human resource management for tourism, hospitality and leisure: An international perspective. Cengage Learning EMEA, 2006. 

Eikhof, Doris & Warhurst, Chris & Haunschild, Axel. (2007). Introduction: What Work? What Life? What Balance? Critical Reflections on the Work-life Balance Debate. Employee Relations. 29. 325-333.

Janta, H., Ladkin, A., Brown, L. and Lugosi, P. (2011b) ‘Employment experiences of Polish migrant workers in the UK hospitality sector’, T ourism Management, 32(5), pp. 1006-1019. 

https://www.people1st.co.uk/getattachment/Insight-opinion/Latest-insights/Female-talent/Women-working-in-the-hospitality-sector-report-Oct-2017.pdf/?lang=en-GB&lang=en-GB

https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/low-pay-hotel-and-accommodation-sector 

López-Andreu et al, 2019 How has the UK hotel sector been affected by the fissuring of the worker/employer relationship in the last 10 years? July 2019 Martí López-Andreu (University of Leicester), Orestis Papadopolous (Keele University), Mandi Jamalian Hamedani (University of Leicester)

https://www.pwc.co.uk/hospitality-leisure/documents/women-in-hospitality-travel-and-leisure-final-report.pdf

https://insights.ehotelier.com/insights/2018/11/08/uk-hospitality-education-in-decline/).

Zhang, H. Q., & Wu, E. (2004). Human resources issues facing the hotel and travel industry in China. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 16(7), 424–428.

Chan, Sow & Kuok, Oi. (2011). A Study of Human Resources Recruitment, Selection, and Retention Issues in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry in Macau. Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality & Tourism. 10. 421-441. 10.1080/15332845.2011.588579.

Ferreira, Tatiana & Alon, Ilan. (2008). Human resources challenges and opportunities in China: a case from the hospitality industry. Int. J. Business and Emerging Markets. 1. 141 to 150. 10.1504/IJBEM.2008.020866.

Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370–396.

https://digital.com/how-to-become-an-entrepreneur/maslows-hierarchy/

Leng, X. (2013). Issues faced by multinational hotel human resources managers in china. Published master dissertation, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. 

https://www.thetravel.com/popular-hotels-with-happiest-staff/ 

McCord, Patty 2017 Powerful: Building a culture of freedom and responsibility

Schneider, 1987, The People Make The Place

Schneider, 1995, The ASA framework: an update

https://hireserve.com/hospitality-recruitment-software/) 

https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/people/recruitment/induction-factsheet 

https://www.ukhospitality.org.uk/page/WorkforceCommission

https://www.forwardtrust.org.uk/media/1456/bridging-the-gaps-final.pdf

Deery, M. and Jago, L. (2015), “Revisiting talent management, work-life balance and retention strategies”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 453-472

https://www.siteminder.com/r/trends-advice/hotel-management/guest-service-staff-hotel-happy/#

Babakus, Emin & Yavas, Ugur & Karatepe, Osman. (2017). Work engagement and turnover intentions: Correlates and customer orientation as a moderator. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management. 29.

6.0 Bibliography

https://www.ukhospitality.org.uk/page/WorkforceCommission 

https://www.ukhospitality.org.uk/page/VisibleWomen

https://www.ibisworld.com/united-kingdom/market-research-reports/hotels-industry/

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200109005365/en/Global-Budget-Hotels-Market-to-2023-Market-data-insights-on-the-global-luxury-hotels-industry—ResearchAndMarkets.com

Moncarz, E., Zhao, J. and Kay, C. (2009) An Exploratory Study of US Lodging Properties’ Organizational Practices on Employee Turnover and Retention. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 21, 437-458. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/09596110910955695

Baum, Tom. (2007). Human Resources in Tourism: Still Waiting for Change. Tourism Management. 50. 1383-1399. 10.1016/j.tourman.2007.04.005.

https://www.travelweekly.co.uk/articles/26119/budget-hotel-sector-to-treble-in-size-by-2027

Eikhof, Doris & Warhurst, Chris & Haunschild, Axel. (2007). Introduction: What Work? What Life? What Balance? Critical Reflections on the Work-life Balance Debate. Employee Relations. 29. 325-333. 10.1108/01425450710839452.

Hinkin, Timothy & Tracey, John. (2000). The Cost of Turnover Putting a Price on the Learning Curve. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly – CORNELL HOTEL RESTAUR ADMIN Q. 41. 14-21. 10.1177/001088040004100313.

https://www.thecaterer.com/news/foodservice/post-brexit-immigration-report-prioritises-high-skilled-workers-in-blow-to-hospitality

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