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How Village Hotels unleashed its employees’ potential


One in three hospitality staff are planning on quitting due to a lack of progression within the sector, according to hospitality job agency Caterer.com.

Although Brexit and Covid-19 are still partly responsible for the high turnover, the industry’s retention problems predate the pandemic and the UK’s exit from the EU.

The reason: hospitality is seen as a job rather than a career.

To change this perception, forward-thinking employers, like UK-based Village Hotels, are starting to cross-skill employees through digital training. In doing so, staff will have the necessary skills to work in different areas of the business. For example, bar staff who have completed the relevant training could also work in the kitchen.

It is a model that gives staff autonomy over their learning. This ensures that staff are not only experts in their field, but they’ll also have an improved knowledge of their organisation’s wider business.

Crucially, it also drives brand consistency.

“Consistency is key. That’s what drives the brand forward, so being able to train everyone to that same consistent standard is really important,” Human Resources Project Manager Sarah Flynn said.

Individuals can master a range of skills

Understanding the needs of guests, ranging from corporate and leisure members to families, is vital to delivering an exceptional guest experience and driving Village’s success. 
 
To improve the guest experience, Village is upskilling and cross-skilling its employees. Staff are now exposed to roles and responsibilities that were previously reserved for managers.   
 
“The ambience is a big focus. How the place looks, sounds and feels is no longer just a manager’s job. Any member of the team can now address these changes, General Manager Nalin Daud explained. “We can now see so much more consistency.” 
 
Not only has upskilling employees ensured brand consistency, but it has also provided staff with an all-important development opportunity. 

Grow their career… and your business

“We train people to deliver in their role and take them forward to grow their career,” Flynn said. “Our next leaders are within the business. And you’ll see quite a lot of staff in the hotel day who have excelled at what they do and have moved up in the business.”

She added: “They have these great opportunities.”

Offering these learning opportunities through comprehensive training is key to future-proofing Village’s business. “By investing in your staff and investing in training makes it easier to develop people and recruit from within – they’re your next talent pool,” Flynn explained.

A fine example of recruiting internally…

The hospitality industry often comes under fire for failing to offer workers a career path. But at Village, that’s not the case.

Darren Williams, who is now Village’s Director of Food and Beverage, started out behind the bar in 2007.

“There’s a lot of success stories in Village. People starting out at the junior level and progressing into senior management – and the salaries are worlds apart. If you want to get to general manager, there’s a career path for you,” Williams said.

To further improve its workforce’s career progression, Village needed to move away from traditional training methods.

A break with (training) tradition

Before Attensi, training was mostly paper, PDF or brochure based. These traditional types of training are:

– Time intensive in terms of production and how long it takes staff to complete.

– Difficult to update when brand standards, regulations or compliance inevitably changes.

– Lacking in practical application. In such a hands-on role, knowing how to handle real-life situations is key for increasing your workforce’s confidence.

– It was also difficult for Village to track engagement, performance and knowledge gaps.

Why game-based training hits the spot

“We needed to find a way to engage employees in a more intuitive way,” Director of Operations and People Lindsay Southward said.

That’s why the organisation turned to game-based training.

Embracing mobile-first training has helped engage with all demographics – from Gen Z to Baby Boomers. Attensi’s module-based, gamified training is a perfect fit for a busy hospitality operator.

This means both engagement and completion rates are often high, with teams being able to complete their training on their preferred device at a time that suits them.

In fact, 52% of playthroughs happen in the evening during its staff’s free time.

And here’s the proof that Village’s training is delivering staff development

Since implementing game-based training, Village has witnessed:

– 91% of the knowledge gap closed

– 98% like the Attensi way of training

– 96% would recommend this way of training to a colleague

– 94% prefer this way of learning to conventional e-learning training

– 96% is the score Village achieved during two mystery guest visits

– 4 repetitions per module

A competitive edge

Team members commented on how Attensi has engaged with their teams’ competitive side. From management to floor staff, everyone is determined to beat their peers and beat their own scores. So much so that Village has now introduced live battle days.

“It’s a fun interactive way of training which is competitive, and you can’t fall asleep until you’ve completed it. It’s a bit like watching a Netflix series or something. And you know you should be going to bed, but you’ve got to finish it, you’ve got to battle, and you’ve got to get that top score,” Flynn enthused.

It’s this drive that helps keep Village’s staff ahead of the game.

We’re excited to be supporting Village Hotels with their continued investment in its people. When hospitality operators have gone through such tough times in the last few years, it’s fantastic to see organisations put their people at the forefront and remind everyone what a thrilling industry hospitality can be.

To speak to us about how you can use gamified training to put your people first, book your demo with one of our expert team members today.

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