Navigating the Labor Shortage
According to the Hotel Association of Canada, the current labor shortage that the hospitality industry is facing has led to managers working overtime to fill in, hampered growth, higher operating costs, reduced profits, an eroded ability to compete, foregone investment and less innovation, and inferior customer service. What are property owners and managers to do in a time like this? The team at Micrometrics has spoken with multiple industry professionals about these very topics. Navigating the labor shortage will be no small feat – it is important to consider how to recruit and retain the right people as well as the overall effect that the labor shortage will have on operations and how they may change.
To help properties bounce back after such a trying time, it is important to focus on recruiting new staff to replenish teams back up to acceptable levels. Rajeev Gopalakrishnan, General Manager at the Pittman Hotel Dallas, made a great point during his webinar interview in saying, “we need to be flexible in our hiring efforts as well as look for the people who, maybe don’t have an abundance of experience, but are willing to be moulded and give them the opportunity to find their perfect role in our organizations. Scheduling is another area where exercising flexibility can really improve your recruitment efforts. If an applicant has a unique scheduling request, we like to check all departments and see if there is any way we can accommodate the applicant”. As an industry, we need to take a page out of Rajeev’s book and understand that we may need to get creative in our recruitment efforts to keep up with the demands of the industry.
Many of the leaders we have spoken to have mentioned how collaboration as well as open and honest communication between managers and employees was imperative for success during the pandemic as well as going forward in this post-pandemic world. Employees want to feel like they can be a part of the solution, whether that be through idea generation or offering suggestions for operational efficiencies or attracting guests. In his webinar interview, Donte Johnson from Hotel Revival expressed that it is vital to create a culture that is inclusive and that is truly a meritocracy. He said that an employee on his team is “not going to have less weight in the conversation because [they’re] different. You don’t get to have less weight in the conversation because of where you fit on the org chart. A great idea is a great idea no matter where it comes from.”
Cultivating relationships with employees and collaborating with them will always pay off in the long run. By speaking with employees you may also find that they are up for a new challenge or are looking for a role change that you were looking to fill anyway.
While a shortage in staff is an issue all on its own, it can creep into every aspect of a property’s operations. We recently sat down with Palm Holdings’ VP Revenue, Ryan MacDonald, for a hospitality webinar chat where the topic of navigating the labor shortage came up. Ryan stated that “because we’re going into a labor shortage I’m definitely looking back to make sure that we weren’t overselling more rooms than what our hotels could handle so that we could still service that guest in a way that they’re going to come back. Guests, understandably, still have the same expectations and while sometimes you don’t have enough people in to clean the rooms, guests aren’t expected to feel the negative effects of our staffing issues. If they’re buying a room from you they’re expecting the same level of service. I think in hindsight, maybe adjusting our inventory at the hotels so we’re not selling the full 100% inventory we’re selling 60% of it”.
While managing the ratio of staff to guests is an important thing to consider, Ryan Ebert had an interesting point from an operations perspective in terms of streamlining his property’s Standard Operating Procedures to relieve the pressures that can come from being short-staffed. “Overall I was trying to provide answers to guest or employee questions that I was not available in person to address right away. With COVID creating issues like minimal staffing and much more, streamlining processes is key and that is exactly what I created this document to do.” This way of thinking will pay dividends if hiring ramps up moving out of the pandemic, as we suspect it will. Creating these laser-sharp processes and checklists can significantly augment the effectiveness of the onboarding process and, in turn, facilitate operations.
Lastly, automating operations where possible by using technology, AI, and other third-party services is going to be key to navigating these trying times. There are plenty of options available on the market to help with spa asset management, contactless guest communications, triaging guest requests, easing staff communication, and so much more.
The impact of a labour shortage with decent occupancy levels
What happens if your property is not only experiencing low staffing numbers but has also seen its occupancy levels not impacted to the same extent as other hotels around the world? Well, if you’re Holiday Inn Express & Suites Halifax – Bedford’s General Manager, Carmella Facchin, this is exactly the situation you are faced with!
On Monday, October 25th, 2021, we’re hosting Carmella on our Palm Holdings webinar series for a 45 minute discussion where she will share her experience navigating labour shortages at her property from the perspective of a GM whose occupancy levels still performed “okay” throughout the pandemic.
How do you develop new systems and processes to maximize the output of your team? How do you keep culture and spirits up when everyone is working longer hours in a more stressful environment? What impacts did reduced staffing have on the guest experience? And what lessons have been learned that can carry on in a post-pandemic world?
Join us live on Monday, October 25th at 1pm ET to learn from Carmella on these points and many more! Register Now.