Warmth will help hospitality survive its talent shortage

It’s really no secret; the hospitality sector has been changed forever by the pandemic.

Everything that we do looks so different now. Fortunately for us, because of the nature of our work we are collectively and equally both resilient and passionate and it is these traits that are leading us towards a brighter future.

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The pandemic has changed people and culture teams for the better. It has slowed us right down, to a halt almost at times throughout last year.

And it gave us nowhere to hide, so our values became our reason for being more so than ever. Fortunately for me I work for a company that lives and breathes its values in every interaction so I knew very simply and easily what I needed to do last year because of our strong and guiding values.

The pandemic gave us all time to reflect and to consider who we are and what we represent and most importantly how we are going to do this. Kindness and empathy come to my mind and I see this so much more now.

In hospitality, our purpose is to look after others and the pandemic brought to the fore that we need to look after ourselves and one another too.

I feel a bit embarrassed writing that because really, it’s the cornerstone of the purpose for people and culture but in our complex and busy lives pre-pandemic, I think it sometimes got forgotten with the many hats that we wear in our busy roles.

Unfortunately for us our wonderful industry does not receive a lot of positive media attention at the best of times. Brexit and the pandemic have further compounded this.

I work at the luxury end of our industry where we never say no – we always find an alternative for our guests, and this is how I feel about recruitment, talent and really the purpose of people and culture in general.

I refuse to accept what the media is telling us and I am vocal about this with our leadership team. We need to be proud of who we are, we should feel confident to promote ourselves and tell our own career stories.

Of course, we are now receiving a scarily smaller number of speculative applications when we advertise for a position, but we don’t accept this.

Instead we pick up the phone and, just as we do with our guests, we take a personal, bespoke approach to each potential candidate that we have taken the time to find out there in the dwindling pool of talent. 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 and, more than that, they are people who really want to be with us and part of our story which is so important in a service industry like ours.

So yes, it is a little different at the moment. More of my team than I would like are focusing on recruitment.

The others are working to ensure a warm and memorable welcome for our new recruits, and that a lot of energy is going into retention through talking to our employees and really listening to what would make a difference to their lives. But that is okay – this is absolutely what we all need to be doing right now.

Emma Jayne is area director of people & culture at The Dorchester Collection