· Features

Job cuts and upskilling for new beginnings

Last month, a survey by three industry trade bodies found that one in eight hospitality employees have already been made redundant. In the same week, Whitbread warned that 6,000 jobs are at risk, while JD Wetherspoon announced 450 job losses at its airport pubs.

On average, hospitality businesses believe their workforce will be 25% smaller in February 2021 compared with February this year – a decline of 675,000 jobs in just 12 months.

In recent weeks, I have been having conversations with key stakeholders in HR and training about how we can help people transition from hospitality, non-food retail, travel and aviation into new roles in areas such as health, social care, logistics, retail and funeral care.

Hospitality and tourism employees are highly sought after because they are generally authentic, confident and responsive. Their transferable skills include planning and logistics, complex problem solving, dealing with the unexpected and going above and beyond to meet customer expectations. They also tend to score highly for agility and resilience, meaning they are able to manage change.

Clearly there is an opportunity for match-making on both sides, but identifying the ideal candidate is only part of the process. It’s equally as important to provide new joiners with the support they need to quickly integrate into their new teams and to acclimatise to their sector and its culture. Here are some of the key ways to help those transitioning to get off to the best possible start.

Prepare the existing team

I recently heard a story from the retail sector where long-standing employees were concerned that their own roles might be at risk due to an influx of outside talent. Clear and timely communication is critical for avoiding situations like this.

It’s important to lay the right groundwork before introducing people from other sectors, to allay the concerns of incumbent employees and to ensure that issues don’t develop that could hinder the successful integration of new joiners.

Acknowledge individual differences

We are in highly complex times with daily shifts and everyone’s situation will be different. Therefore, it’s important to tailor support on an individual basis for those who are being redeployed.

This should include help at an emotional and psychological level. Additionally, some people will have chosen a long-term career change whereas others will be bridging the gap until job opportunities in their sectors open up again – here again, a case-by-case approach is required.

Provide continuous training and development

We are currently working in a collaboration with ABTA LifeLine to help people in the travel sector who have lost their jobs to transfer their skills and to plug knowledge gaps. Like similar initiatives in other sectors, it helps to match individuals with potential employers and assists their transition.

However, anyone moving sectors will need bespoke training plans once they are in a new role to address specific skills gaps and to equip them to deal with the changes and challenges that will characterise the post-pandemic workplace.

Don’t take redeployed staff for granted

It’s often said that it’s a 'buyers’ market' in a depressed economy. However, employers that are investing in new talent should bear in mind that re-deployed staff are unlikely to stay in an environment where they are not happy, just for the sake of job security.

The market feedback we have is that they are unlikely to either join or stay with a firm whose values do not align with their own. Therefore, investing in a thorough induction plan and bespoke training for newly deployed staff, will highlight how much they are valued and underpin your commitment to them.

In conclusion, making a success of redeployment is about more than just matching skills or cultural alignment. HR and training professionals have an important role to play in ensuring that new joiners feel valued from the start, as well as being recognised and appreciated for who they are and not just for the skills that they bring.

Sandra Kelly is UK director at People 1st International.

Further reading:

Is it time to re-think the recruitment process?

Employers consider next steps as UK enters recession

How important is data when grappling with furlough, redundancy and recruitment?