Sometimes, all it takes is a little bit of math to solve a problem. And math is certainly a factor when considering the great exodus of employees from the hospitality industry and others that has been at the top of the news in recent months.
Take, for example, the math problem posed by a veteran hospitality recruiting professional at the HFTP 2022 Club Summit earlier this month. In his session “Recruit Like a Headhunter,” Gecko Hospitality President Robert Krzak, CPC, CERS began with a story of when he recently saw a sign publicizing new starting wages at a Target store. It turns out: as part of a major workforce investment venture, giant retailer Target recently announced that it was boosting its starting pay for select jobs to $24 per hour.
If you read the HFTP Club Summit recap from last week (find it here), then you know that a club manager is often relied upon to wear many hats and juggle many responsibilities outside of what you would normally expect — for instance, a club controller may be expected to manage accounting automation systems, cybersecurity controls and human resources (and if you ever have to handle HR at your club, then this blog post is for you). That club manager may work 50 hours each week to accomplish all that is expected of them while making a salary of $45,000 per year. If the club manager decides to calculate how much they make at an hourly rate… they would find out they are making $17.30 per hour. That starts to make the idea of putting in a job application at the local Target much more attractive.
Before you can tackle how to attract and retain employees, though, you must first fully understand why employees leave in the first place — and low wages and benefits are just one part of the problem (albeit a big one). There are also concerns with industry instability and hospitality harassment, which have both absolutely become major problems throughout the pandemic — as well as feelings of being unappreciated by management, seeing no room for growth, and having no work/life balance. Over time, hospitality managers feel burned out, underpaid and not engaged.
If you are worried about not having the capacity at your club to significantly bolster salaries, that is not the only way to keep your staff. Recent HFTP research has found that millennials in particular are also highly driven by relevant, meaningful work, engagement, team building, a sense of community, personal development and training opportunities.
So, there are a few of those employee concerns listed above (think: management appreciation and recognition) that can be addressed at a much lower cost, or even no cost at all. You need to do everything you can to foster a positive, inclusive work culture to keep your employees engaged and committed to your club. This is why it is important to attend a conference like the Club Summit, where expert speakers like Krzak present a variety of incentives, rewards and techniques designed to retain and attract employees that can be used by any club. This particular session, “Recruit Like a Headhunter,” was also very interactive, with several attendees personally sharing reward offerings they have used that have been successful with their own employees.
Here are some takeaways that you might want to consider in your own employee retention and hiring plans in the future.
- Create incentive and reward programs for your employees. Get creative when you reward your good employees for a job well done in front of their peers. Select an “employee of the month” and then hire a car detailing service for their vehicle that takes place right in front of the club for everyone to see. It’s a once-monthly cost that brings a great deal of recognition to your star employee.
- Give new employees an exceptional welcome. This can be as simple as setting up a “buddy system” by pairing a new employee with another staff member on their first day who can show them around and introduce them to everyone. It is so important that a new employee makes connections quickly, and this is an easy way to facilitate that.
- Employees want to be heard. So, listen to them. Take opportunities to gather their feedback. In fact, you should always do exit interviews with your departing employees. Some of the things they have to say may be tough to hear, but be prepared to take it graciously, because it can help you improve your company culture and environment greatly in the long run.
- Make sure you follow job posting best practices. The onboarding process starts before you think — all the way back with the job posting. This is a potential employee’s very first impression of your club. As a recruiter with 28 years of experience, Krzak gave a lot of valuable tips to make sure that your job posting is reaching the best candidates and inviting them enough to apply. Here are just a few of these tips:
- Let the employee know what is in it for them. Detail any growth opportunities, perks and benefits. And always disclose the salary (this shouldn’t be a secret, so don’t make it one).
- Tell a story to sell the company.
- Keyword repetition is key to boost searchability: repeat the job title 11-15 times throughout the job posting. And never abbreviate it (use “General Manager,” not “GM.”)
- Keep it to 325-400 words in length, no more and no less.
Finally, employees are motivated when their club keeps them engaged and helps them find meaning in their work and career. Opportunities for personal development, training and career advancement are essential to achieving this end. Show your employees that they are valued by investing in them. What they learn by being part of a professional association or attending an industry conference will pay for itself in the new ideas, best practices and strategies they can bring back to the club.