Status Page:- Recruitment and Retention in Hospitality: A view from our founders

13 Aug 2021

The hospitality industry is currently struggling to recruit suitable talent into the deluge of jobs that are available. As such, we thought we’d ask our founder venues for their thoughts and top tips on recruiting new team members during this difficult time.

  1. What has been the hardest thing about recruiting new members of the team? 

Joshua Dugdale from Wasing Park said: ‘People seem to have found other jobs. Hospitality is not at the top of people’s lists it seems. Brexit also means that lots of suitable applicants are no longer in the UK!’ 

Harry Dearden from Pennard House: ‘People are still on furlough and not wanting to go back to work. All hospitality is trying to recruit at the moment with higher demand, and fewer European workers. Also, people have low confidence in the sector, fears that the country will go back into lockdown means they don’t want to leave their existing jobs for a new one. If we do go back into lockdown, any new employees couldn’t be furloughed.’ 

Samantha Vaughan from Dewsall Court: ‘It is an employees market with so many jobs available after what appears to be a mass exodus from the hospitality industry. Teenagers are still keen to grab the ‘as and when’ jobs and the office-based roles are also easy to fill. However, the entry-level ranks of the kitchen team or similar roles are much harder to find. Another issue is retention. I know of other hospitality businesses which are struggling to keep the staff because there is too much pressure on the existing team to carry out the work to the expected standard. Too few people to carry out too many roles.’

  1. Where are you finding the ‘pockets of talent’ to fill team vacancies?

Joshua Dugdale: ‘We mainly recruit from Indeed and The Caterer, as well as local social media sites. Linkedin is not ideal but we are throwing everything at it.’

Harry Dearden: ‘Struggling to be honest! Generally, word of mouth has been good. We have had applications from employees at other venues that have gone bust.’

Samantha Vaughan: ‘We feel pretty lucky that much of our team have stuck with us and furlough has been a godsend in that respect. For the roles that needed to be filled, we have used Indeed and Social Media. The most gratifying thing we have found is that brothers, sisters, sons and daughters of existing staff are applying. It has never been more important to nurture, support and look after the team, just as they are looking after our couples, clients and guests.’ 

  1. What are the best companies to approach for different roles? 

Samantha Vaughan: ‘Indeed, although it is tricky. They are looking to monetise everything nowadays and so it is hard to find good applicants without a budget to promote the job advert. On top of that, there appears to be a science to how things work with Indeed in that reopening a paused job doesn’t always mean it will be shown, you may have to delete and then repost in order to get the algorithms working for you. They do have persistent account managers and when you are struggling to find applicants they will help and advise.’

  1. Have you thought of any innovative ways to recruit new team members? 

Joshua Dugdale: ‘Not innovative but looking like we will have to pay a bit more. The key problem seems to be the late shifts.’ 

Samantha Vaughan: ‘I’m nervous about using pay as the main incentive since this will affect the overall price and therefore will contribute to inflation in the end! I talk a lot about culture and incentives in both the advert and the interviews. This is the overall motivating force for someone at the moment. Yes, pay is important, but the quality of life, work satisfaction and being part of something that makes you feel like you are making a difference overall is paramount.’

  1. What is the number one thing you look for in a team member? 

Joshua Dugdale: ‘Personality, integrity, and willingness to graft are probably top characteristics in my book.’ 

Harry Dearden: ‘Honesty, personality, commitment.’ 

Samantha Vaughan: ‘How they will fit into the vibes of the overall team. The team is everything!  Discussing their idea of ‘team’ is useful in interviews: it is all very well knowing what you are looking for but asking the right questions in order to sniff out the clues as to whether someone is right for the role is the key. I often refer to the cogs in the wheel: if one cog breaks down then the wheel will struggle to turn. Also, I think the ability to work autonomously is important. I say that if they are empowered to do the role and contribute their opinions etc to the overall Dewsall world, a lot of pressure to carry out that role well is put on them but it is within a very supportive and friendly – dare I say fun – team which often means that that pressure isn’t a misery but rather the sort of positive stress that contributes to your overall sense of self-worth.’ 

Next week Hostology will be hosting our monthly webinar where we will be joined by David Sheen, Public Affairs Director, from UK Hospitality to discuss the issue of recruitment and find out what you can do to increase your chances of finding great talent. Join us on Tuesday 15th June at 12 pm here, or RSVP now by clicking the events tab in The Collective.


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