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Star Players

Eight top tips for winning and retaining talent.

Words: Charlotte McIsaac
Illustrations: Craig Jones

In an industry known for strange working hours and high employee turnover, how do you ensure your hospitality team performs at the top of their game? Charlotte McIsaac of Strategy Collective looks after human resources for a range of hospitality businesses. Here, she shares her eight top tips for winning and retaining talent.

1.

It all starts with attraction.

Generation Z (aged 21 and under) and millennials (aged 21 to 37) are immensely important to the hospitality industry. They make up the majority of employees and are the
future for management positions.

They bring a lot to the table – they are innovative, entrepreneurial and tech savvy. They’re also renowned for setting the bar high for their employers. With an employee pool who are becoming increasingly selective, it’s important now more than ever before to sell your business well and attract the right employees. Make your job advertisements stand out from the crowd. Be exciting and have a point of
difference. This will draw candidates in who want to work with you and be part of your team. The hospitality sector is often viewed as a means to gain work experience whilst employees decide what to do “when they grow up”. In
order to retain talent, you need to make your business attractive to the right people as a long-term career move. This thought process might start by putting yourself in the shoes of the person you would like to join your team. Imagine what would attract them to your business (for example, perks, culture, opportunities, and the nature of the work).

2.

Establish your culture.

Building or rebuilding culture takes time, consistency and perseverance. Make sure you have a clear and consistent vision and know how you would like everyone, (inside and outside of your business) to view it. Be real and be honest. Allow your employees to contribute. Most-importantly, be prepared to hear things you might not be comfortable hearing. Don’t try too hard though – it should be a natural, organic process or it can start to look like an episode of The Office.

3.

Show off your culture.

If you want to attract a hospo superstar, they’ll
want to know they’re joining a superstar team. So put your team’s culture on display. This might mean that the interview process involves a complete tour of your business  (and even suppliers) and a sit down with the key members of your team over coffee.

Talk them through your business story and inspire them with the direction in which you are heading. Get them onboard with that vision right from the
get go. They need to buy-in from the start. And even if they don’t become a team member, you will have them as a raving fan.

Another great way to display your culture is to empower your employees to do it for you. Give team members control of your social media account for a week
(with guidance of course). Nothing sells your team culture like your own team celebrating it.

4.

Put your team first, with customers a close second.

We all know the importance of customer service nothing ruins your day like a one or two-star online review. But the truth is that nothing creates happy customers like creating happy employees first.

How can you put your people first? Start by ensuring they understand what you are about (your mission), where you are wanting to go and how you are going to get there (your vision). Make them feel like they are playing a key role in the journey of your business. When people feel important and valued they are engaged and motivated. People who are engaged want rather than need to turn up to work.

Research suggests that, time and time again, employee engagement leads to higher productivity which, in this industry, manifests itself in the form of exceptional customer service. In other words, through changing the focus back to your people, you’ll nail your customer satisfaction goals at the same time hello five star reviews!

5.

Be your employee’s number-one fan.

Talk to your employees, find out where they are wanting to go in their careers, uncover their ambitions and internal motivations. What opportunities are there for them within your business? How they can prosper financially? Find out what makes them tick and help make it happen.

Remember, not everyone equates promotion to career growth and ambitions. Understand your people and what their individual ambitions are. Then, act on this insight to help develop your people. This will show your team that they matter and and in turn will boost engagement and productivity – a win-win for your people and your business.

6.

Challenging work is fun work.

Nothing keeps a team focused, engaged and rewarded like work that is challenging. Look for projects that require your people to step up to the next level and put their creativity and individuality to work.

Include junior staff in decision making/planning meetings. This lets them know they are valued and their opinion and input genuinely matters. Allow variety across disciplines – for example, Front of House (FOH) staff giving things a go in the kitchen and Back of House (BOH) having a go on the counter. Find out what your people are interested in and work with that. It’s not about reinventing your business; it’s about challenging and motivating your staff by trying new ways of working.

7.

Work the work perks.

Explore ways to work wages so that they reflect the true value you expect your people to contribute. This could include paying higher than the industry norm, having team and/or individual bonus structures and having visual promotion pathways for people to aspire to. Alongside this, explore non-monetary forms of compensation like meals and coffee or having a paid day off for your birthday. Plus, prioritise fun team events and functions.

8.

Leadership.

Every strong team needs a strong leader. Be the person that embodies the values and beliefs of the business. Be the person that empowers your people, leads by example, and creates and reinforces the positive culture.

Give your people the autonomy to come up with ideas and solutions to problems, allowing the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from them without fear of consequence. As Simon Sinek says, leaders give us the chance to try and fail, then give us another chance to try and succeed.

All the best building a team of superstars – you’ve got this!