How hoteliers diversify their employee search process
How hoteliers diversify their employee search process
23 OCTOBER 2019 8:18 AM

In a tough labor market, hoteliers are looking to new sources for employees such as college campuses, job fairs and online postings.

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—As the hunt for the best employees continues to be an industry pain point, hotel companies are increasingly looking to new sources to find staff.

These include administering employee referrals programs with cash incentives, looking on college campuses, posting on the Internet and even holding hiring fairs.

"Hotels' main resource are job posts on sites like Indeed and even Craigslist," said Scott Samuels, CEO of Horizon Hospitality, a hotel industry executive search firm. "What is not being done as much is employee referrals programs, where they give compensation to employees who recommend people to them; hotels need to be more creative and more generous in these programs."

Friend and family referrals are becoming an increasingly popular way to attract talent. Many companies are passing along the savings of recruitment efforts to not only the employee giving a referral, but to the incumbent employee as well, said David Sangree, president of Hotel & Leisure Advisors.

Based on how long an employee stays, each employee is awarded a progressive bonus, he said. Some companies are offering in excess of $500 for a full-time team member recommendation who stays for more than a year to both the team member who has recommended and to the team member who has joined.

Holly Lawson, corporate director of people and culture at Pivot Hotels & Resorts, the lifestyle and luxury division of Davidson Hotels & Resorts, said her company has recently rolled out a "robust" referral policy for its existing team members. The referral fees for existing team members can vary from $300 to $2,000 per hire, depending upon the seniority of the position. Generally, the hardest positions to find include housekeepers and cooks, she said.

Job fairs continue to be a good source of employees, Sangree added, but in an ever-competitive market, the focus is on streamlining the hiring process. The longer the process the more likely it is that the employee is going to have another job come through or lose interest in the process.

Lawson said her company’s job fairs have a strong focus on observing prospective employees’ interactions with others.

"Our method of conducting job fairs includes a more interactive approach to observing personalities and an individual’s ability to work with others," she said. "We have found through practicing these methods that our hiring rate is much more successful, as well as our retention of these talented new team members."

College internship programs also are a good opportunity for current students or recent graduates to get a foot in the door, Sangree said. Having a solidified training program that follows a course of progression keeps team members interested and invested. Job fairs and college recruitment can be an affordable method.

"Financial incentives, team member appreciation luncheons, team member of the month programs, engagement surveys, flexibility in scheduling, bonuses and hiring the right managers all contribute greatly to engagement," he said. "These methods of recruitment incentivize an employee to join one organization over the other."

Sarah Smart, VP of global recruitment at Hilton, said the hotel giant's largest source of job applicants is its careers website, followed by team member referrals. Hilton also holds hiring fairs and reaches out on college campuses across the country.

In addition, Hilton’s Operation Opportunity Program provides direct access for military and their spouses to find their next career at Hilton, Smart said. In the U.S. alone, the company has hired almost 20,000 veterans over the last four years.

"We also look at our community engagement activities as a way to hire great talent, from our youth hiring initiative, Careers@Hilton. This is where we engage with local schools and conduct outreach at community centers and churches," she said.

"Empowering our hotels to recruit through these tools and resources, allows us to showcase the best of Hilton to potential candidates, through our team members themselves,” she added.

The cost of recruitment marketing varies at Hilton, Smart said, with the cost-per-click ranging anywhere from 59 cents to $5. It really depends on the market and the function they are recruiting, she said.

John Bartkow, director of human resources at the W Boston, said in addition to posting job listings on LinkedIn, Facebook and Craigslist, his company works with a recruiting solutions company for sourcing hourly and management positions. That company will share listings on all major job hunting sites as well as college sites, he said.

For his hotel, there also is an intern and manager training program to ensure continued succession planning in the organization, he said.

"We continue to focus on diversity and veteran hires and have our teams focus on identifying job sites and events that promote the hiring talent with a broad range of experience," Bartkow said. "We've also attracted a lot of great talent through referrals, and we hire as much as possible from within."

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