Anyone who’s hired employees has probably assembled a checklist of questions like “What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?” and questions which can never be asked, like “If you got pregnant, would you quit your job?” They’ve undoubtedly also become familiar with the ways to verify potential employees’ previous employment history and check their references.
In some industries, though, the screening process must go much deeper – and the hospitality industry is one of them. The complexities of managing a hotel’s large and often transient workforce call for an increased level of diligence before making hiring decisions.
For this reason, a growing number of hotels have started relying on hospitality staffing agencies. These relatively-new companies handle all screening, hiring and payroll functions, leasing their employees to hotels for a monthly fee. And with their efforts fully devoted to recruiting, vetting and testing only hospitality workers (as opposed to general staffing agencies which are doing the same due diligence for clerical workers and forklift operators at the same time), these firms can provide complete hospitality staffing solutions at reasonable and predictable costs.
Hospitality staffing agencies are definitely the way of the future. If you’re still hiring and administering your own hotel staff, however, here are a few issues you may want to consider.
The skill level of applicants is a variable that many hospitality operators fail to investigate fully. It’s not enough to know, for example, that an applicant has been a small-town restaurant line cook in the past; he may be completely unsuited to performing the same job in a demanding hotel fine dining environment. Many hospitality staffing agencies administer actual skills testing before hiring a new worker for this reason. Your local or state laws may prohibit some types of hands-on tests, but if it’s permitted you should think seriously about implementing them, or at least simulating the environment and pressure in which the employees will be working.
A major issue most hotels face is high staff turnover. The nature of hospitality positions makes some turnover inevitable, but there are ways during an interview (while still asking legally-permissible questions) to judge whether an applicant will probably be a short-timer. For instance, asking about an interviewee’s career goals can give you a good indication of whether they’re looking to stay in a job for the long-term, only trying to build short-term experience before moving to a similar position in a warm-weather city, or looking for a position where they can rise through the ranks. This information will help you decide if the candidate is a good match with your organization.
Hidden Employee Costs
Hospitality employers often make the mistake of simply considering the salary they’d have to pay an applicant when deciding whether to recruit or hire her. This ignores a major cost factor; the most recent “Trends In The Hotel Industry” prepared by the firm PKF-HR reports that payroll-related expenses add an extra 30% to per-employee salary costs. This category includes items like vacation and sick days, meals, and other benefits, but doesn’t factor in the additional costs of maintaining human resources and payroll staff to administer those expenses.
The difficulty of recruiting experienced employees, and conducting detailed skills testing and pointed interviews to whittle down the applicant field, are chores many hotels struggle with. The hidden costs of hiring those employees can be even more oppressive. Those are two of the major reasons many hotels are now turning to hospitality staffing agencies, which can relieve those burdens for a predictable, fixed monthly cost. If you’re struggling with some of the same issues, companies which provide complete hospitality staffing solutions may be worth a long look.