Like it or not, hospitality has a reputation for a transient workforce. For many, hospitality work is what you do in-between jobs, whilst you’re studying, or just as you figure out what you really want to do with your life.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. This theory completely disregards the large number of Australian men and women who are passionate, long-time hospitality employees. From sommeliers to restaurant managers, maître d’ to head chefs; the industry is actually teeming with long-standing staff for whom hospitality is a career - not just a job.
In this blog, we look at why it’s important in your recruitment process to be searching for career seekers, not just job seekers. We’ll walk through some of the questions you need to ask, as well as the benefits of finding - and keeping! - long-term career employees.
Benefits of serious staff
In his article ‘Employee Engagement: An Essential Skill for Hospitality Management’, Court Williams points to two main benefits of serious staff: performance and cost.
“Dale Carnegie Training, a leader in employee engagement tactics, found that, “companies with engaged employees outperform those without by up to 202%,”” writes Williams.
“They also found, “$11 billion is lost annually due to employee turnover,” which is a by-product of active employee disengagement.”
Not only are you welcoming a workforce who puts in more effort, you’re also saving money by avoiding high staff turnover.
How to find them in the interview process
Everyone is on their best behaviour during the hiring process, so it can be a challenge to sift out those who will treat your business as a career, and those who are simply looking for an ‘in-between’ job. However, there are a few questions that you can pose that will help give you a better idea of their motivations. Here are our top three.
Question #1: What do you love about the hospitality industry?
If they answer anything about having time to focus on their other passions or hobbies, you can be pretty sure this job is just about the money for them. However, if they respond positively about working with people, loving the management side, or feeling passionately about food and drink - you are in with luck.
Question #2: What have you done for work up until now?
Unless your potential employee is entering the workforce for the first time, you would want to see a considerable amount of experience in the hospitality industry. Even if only as wait staff, having experience around the hospitality environment and a desire to continue are imperative to a career-seeker.
Question #3: What is your desired journey in your career?
It’s important to frame this question in a manner that they are not worried about answering honestly. Finding out where they hope to see themselves in five, ten, fifteen years’ time will help give you an idea of their trajectory as an employee. Whilst they may hope to see themselves at another establishment - we all have a ‘dream job’! - what you want to see is a commitment to their role and the industry itself.
How to hold onto career staff
Once you’ve managed to find somebody who gives you a sense of commitment, your next challenge is to create an environment in which they will want to stay. This will come down to three things: engagement, support, and planning.
Firstly, you want your new staff to feel engaged in their role. Disengaged staff are bored, listless, and uninspired by their work, and will jump ship at the first opportunity. Create engagement by allocating tasks of responsibility within their area: for example, engage your floor manager by creating projects for improvement or staff training. Being busy, and feeling useful, are key to high employee engagement.
Secondly, be mindful of the support you’re offering. Keep lines of communication open as you check in with how they are feeling about their trajectory. Are they interested in the work they’re doing? Do they feel supported in their management style? Is there anything you can do to help support their career vision?
This brings us onto the final point: planning. Sitting down with your employee and planning ahead for the future will be crucial to establishing trust. Research some training opportunities, and ask them to do the same. Laying out some exciting plans is a great way to create a vision for the future.
Hiring a career seeker instead of a job seeker is what will take your business from ordinary, to extraordinary. Find the right person and treat them well, and you will be welcoming another supporter of your business into the fold.