By Robert A. Gilbert, CHME, CHBA, President and CEO, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
When the HSMAI Foundation published its “State of Talent” report earlier this year, we did not anticipate the amount of positive feedback we received from individuals and companies thanking us for summarizing the state of the current landscape. At last week’s Foundation board meeting, we asked the board to rank the 10 themes identified in the report as a pulse check on key challenges still impacting commercial leaders.
The top three rankings were:
1. Development, reskilling, and upskilling team members
2. Corporate cultures and values
3. Dry talent pipeline and new channels need to be developed
The other seven themes are still issues, but these three resonated most with board members, who represent executives from hotel brands and management companies as well as executive recruiters, academics, and key partners. Reskilling and upskilling teams remains a challenge, as associates are managing different functions and market dynamics continue to change. Corporations continue to refine their culture and values by increasing focus on their people. And the methods for recruiting and retaining team members must be driven by innovation and creativity.
The common denominator among these three themes is the stress and burnout it has created among leaders and the associates who are trying to create work-life balance in a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) world. And while business may be rebounding, another dimension of stress for many has been created by inflation and U.S. stock market fluctuations.
So, what are you doing about retention?
I’m sure you or your company have already focused on what you can do to recognize, reward, or motivate your teams. Some are conducting “stay interviews” to harvest ideas for what personalized benefits may help retain existing talent. Many have increased salaries across the board or modified incentive plans. Make sure you are implementing some elements of fun for your team. Everyone needs a mental break when they’ve been working so hard during a difficult time. Whatever you are doing, do not let your foot off the gas — continue to focus on your commercial team. Retention has never been more critical for the revenue-generating and profit-optimizing functions of sales, marketing, and revenue optimization.
What are you doing about recruitment?
The opportunity cost of an open commercial position can have huge ripple effects. Where are you recruiting? Have you identified successful short-term staffing solutions? Success stories range from creative project management using students, interns, or hospitality school classes, to tactics as simple as redesigning job descriptions. Postings that start with the benefits of being in the hospitality business may help potential applicants see the industry from the point of view of those who understand the implicit rewards and fulfillment of serving guests and creating experiences. Keep trying and testing recruiting methods and channels in the same way you would A/B test a marketing campaign. You are bound to learn some lessons along the way.
Need some examples of why people should join hospitality?
The HSMAI Foundation recently began distributing a series of short videos from hospitality commercial leaders explaining why careers in sales, marketing, and revenue are rewarding and fulfilling. If you need some ideas or even want to share these with potential recruits, take a look at the most recent ones released. They all give different, yet specific reasons as to why hospitality is a rewarding and fulfilling career. Sometimes, we need a little reminder ourselves.