People are the lifeblood of what makes hospitality so interesting and exciting. It’s people who promote aspirational brands, create unforgettable moments and nurture talent.
We are also an eclectic industry: a five-star hotel, a digital conference suite, a school dining room and a food photography studio are all aspects of the same industry, with one common theme. People.
In whatever sector of the industry we operate, how we treat and look after our people is something we should all consider a priority.
I had a discussion recently with a member of our hospitality family who felt flat, demotivated, beaten.
This person was a leader, with a team to lead and a senior to report in to. The culture of the business relied on messenger systems for group communication. This “one step removed” nature of communication had led to a working environment and system akin to a Roman Colosseum, with the crowd watching the battle from a distance, and the inevitable defeat.
We are all concerned about the people and skills shortage resulting from the pandemic and the loss of free movement for EU citizens following Brexit. Latest estimates showed that over 355,000 hospitality roles have been lost, and available roles exceed available talent.
1.3 million non-UK nationals have left our shores, compounding the challenge of recruitment. Caterer.com reports a surge in hospitality job vacancies, with a rise in job postings of 85% in the last few weeks alone.
As a General Manager in the hotel sector, I observed near-full occupancy when we emerged from the first lockdown. Now, thanks to a successful vaccine roll-out, the easing of restrictions and some limited foreign travel, we are ready to emerge from lockdown again. And as we do so, we face a market where our teams have an increased choice as to who they are employed by.
Now, more than ever, our industry calls for inspirational, enlightened leadership. Both aggressive and excessively hands-off cultures where people are not valued will find themselves quite quickly at the back of the queue for talent, or watch standards drop within their businesses as turnover rates grow. Leadership is not a spectator sport; we don’t work in colosseums. It’s about being in touch with people and caring for them — our customers absolutely, but even more importantly, those who make up our teams.
The hospitality colleague I referred to earlier has left that business, joining a new one with a more inclusive, people-focused culture. I was told that it was like a weight had been lifted, and my colleague is now thriving.
There are so many inspirational leaders out there, but conversely this does not account for the totality of our industry. Some leaders need to learn and recognise their biggest asset, their people.
We are a people industry after all.
Robert Richardson FIH, Chief Executive, The Institute of Hospitality
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Hospitality & Catering News: Leading through recognition of hospitality’s greatest asset. – 16 May 2021 – Leading through recognition of hospitality’s greatest asset.
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