Like the average guest, the character of the hospitality employee has evolved. Today’s hotel associate is most likely a Millennial, someone who is tech-savvy, independent, less reverential to hierarchy and with an elevated expectation of life in the workplace. This provides both opportunities, and challenges for hotels looking to get ahead in what is a very competitive market.
However, the team whose job it is to reach out, recruit and train this segment needs to be fit-for-purpose, and in today’s tech-dominated, fast-moving world, HR departments need to ask themselves if the job they do is still relevant.
One area that has been disrupted is candidate selection. Initial candidate selection (i.e. the first round) can be done via mobile, with mobile technology already allowing department leaders to test and grade future hires. Apps exist that provide accurate, hospitality-centric vocational and language tests that can be sent out to applicants, with results coming in in real time. This can filter out those who are not suited to the role quickly, cheaply and easily, and highlight those that show promise.
Furthermore, as Virtual Reality (VR) becomes more developed and available, long distance selection can become even more accurate, with applicants undergoing highly realistic, ‘real life’ tests that measure their leadership, decision-making under pressure, teamwork and other attributes
One question all leaders should ask is: Does the HR department structure look the same now as it did 20 years ago? While other departments and teams have changed to reflect the changing guest and employee profile, HR departments often seem like relics from a bygone age, with the same top-down structure popular during the 1980s. This results in HR strategy becoming less attuned to the needs of their workforce, and ways of reaching out to them.
While hotels have made it easier for guests to review and book their stay via mobile, through Apps and other initiatives, how many have embraced mobile to reach future employees? HR headcounts have generally shrunk, with many taking on administrative or transactional roles. HR strategy may need to shift under the domain of the department heads, with the HR department acting as a support and facilitating role
So how can the modern HR department become more relevant and valuable? On the one hand you could argue for a wholesale removal of the department, save for a few HR ‘administrators’ who would process the candidates and conduct the paperwork etc.
Another, more compelling solution would be to free up the HR role as one that becomes an enabler, encouraging them to work with department heads to develop new training, coaching and recruitment initiatives. Realistic budgets should be assigned, and technology needs to be embraced, as does the use of data and analytics – the more HR departments know about their future employees, the better they will be at attracting, training and retaining them.