Hospitality Recruitment Trends: The Employability Problem
The hospitality recruitment landscape is changing fast; but are recruiters keeping pace?
For many years, hospitality recruiters have been expressing concerns over the lack of core “employability” skills exhibited by young workers.
Finding college graduates with fundamental skills in areas like timekeeping, understanding how to present themselves in formal situations and customer service is becoming increasingly more difficult and hoteliers are now taking on a greater burden for training.
The Work Foundation suggests that more than 450,000 NEETs – youngsters not in education, employment or training – have never had a regular job and lack the “soft skills” needed for the jobs available to them in the service sector.
This has prompted a greater emphasis on employability and enterprise in Further Education, and these two principles have jumped to the top of the agenda at OFSTED – the UK education inspectorate.
The problems surrounding NEETs and employability skills are affecting all industries – but the issue is of particular concern to the hospitality industry.
“There is arguably no more important job role than that which interacts with the customer, and if we want to provide world-class service in this country, employers have to invest in the people that deliver for the customer by giving them opportunities and training,” explains Institute of Customer Service chief executive, Jo Causon.
“In order for the UK to become a global leader in this area, organisations need to work hard to attract the best young talent by creating work experience opportunities and the chance for professional development and a lifelong career in the service sector.”
“The perception that a job in customer service is a short-term option for young people on the way to a ‘real’ career needs to change. In the face of rising youth and graduate unemployment, now is the perfect time to recruit the brightest people in to this increasingly important sector.”
Rethinking Assessment in Recruitment
The rules are changing, and hospitality recruitment practices need to keep pace.
It is now crucially important to develop a 360-degree view of potential candidates to assess their soft skills and sector specific skills. This requires a greater emphasis on pre-employment aptitude and a fuller understanding of their employment history.
According to new research, nine out of ten UK companies are still relying on traditional interviews to ensure a match between the employee and corporate culture. The HR departments in these companies are also using these interviews to identify if an applicant represents a risk to the business. Four fifths of those surveyed are checking references, but only 28% are implementing pre-employment screening tests.
A Circle Research study commissioned by General Dynamics Information Technology and carried out among 169 HR managers, directors and other senior decision makers of major UK companies in the hospitality industry among others (banking, retail, security and transport), found a strong reliance on post-employment measures.
A majority of respondents rely on training (75%) and performance management (74%) with some even using Closed Circuit TV (44%) to manage the risk of employee misconduct.
The use of pre-employment tests is growing in popularity, but they are currently limited to middle and senior management levels. However, 61% of respondents expected the use of pre-employment tests to become more important over the next 12 to 18 months.
“What I find interesting from these results is that, when asked their views on pre-employment screening, many HR professionals still think of personality tests from the past that examine general traits such as whether they are an introvert or extrovert, or whether they have the potential to be a good leader,” explains General Dynamics Information Technology, UK managing director, Stephen Meyler.
“However the next generation of attitude and behaviour tests, such as the Integrity and Customer Service Assessment, paint a clear picture of how a candidate is likely to perform in a role before they are even hired.”
“The current focus on post-employment assessment is simply unsustainable. Organisations that keep to this approach expose themselves to higher employee turnover, rising training costs, poor customer service and low job performance. Worse yet, they are also missing out on finding and hiring potentially highly talented employees who will drive business growth as a result.”