The leadership challenges in hotels
Varied departments and job roles
Hotels present a unique leadership challenge due to varied departments and job roles. For example, an individual hotel includes team members in guest services, back of house, housekeeping, food and beverage and many others.
Each department requires distinct individual leadership skills. Developing leaders with those skills and/or hiring the right people can be a challenge.
Employee retention and churn are also huge challenges. This is especially prevalent in hotels with staff churn as high as 30%1, double the UK across-industry average.
Of that 30%, 42% are leaving within the first 30 days1 (otherwise known as ‘quick quitting’).
The knock-on effect of this high turnover shouldn’t be underestimated. The constant flux of employees is not only costly in onboarding time, but it may also impact your guests’ overall experience and impact rebooking.
A shifting workforce demographic
The workforce is changing dramatically. Leaders face unique new challenges of blending Gen Z (and soon to be Gen A), millennials, Gen X and even some baby boomers.
Gen Z’s expectations of leadership and what their careers will look like are often very different to their older colleagues. It takes a highly skilled leader to balance the wants and needs of all these groups.
Lack of centralized leadership training
Finally, 73% of UK Hotels are independently owned and operated.2
This means that 73% of hotels aren’t likely to have centralized training so transplanting a leader from a chain of hotels can be challenging, too. If the hotel they’re heading to has no personalized leadership training, how can they be expected to adapt their style to suit distinct guest experiences?
How can hotels use training to improve the current landscape?
Developing leaders from within
With such large numbers of people working within a hotel, developing leaders from an existing employee base may be the key to driving improved retention rates.
They already know the culture. They know the ins and outs of the operation. And importantly, hiring from within provides a development opportunity to forge a real career path within hospitality.
Improved work-life balance
In 2022, The Landmark London Hotel3 decided to pioneer a four-day workweek for its chefs and other hospitality team members to improve work-life balance and increase the appeal of starting a journey in hospitality.
After implementing the new scheme in January 2022, the hotel stated they:
“Maintained through a recruitment drive in January and February, which increased the number of kitchen staff the hotel employs.”
More unique training content
Historically, hotels might have gone into a database to extract learning content from a library with the hope it would drive engagement and help team members. But when we’ve learnt that nearly three-quarters of hotels are independently owned and run, it only makes sense that training content should be as unique as the hotel’s guest experience journey.
This also applies to the example of developing leaders from within.
If you’re developing department-specific learning, it means people can cross and upskill, regardless of their department.
For example, if someone in front of house expresses an interest in working in operations, they can access the appropriate operations training and potentially move sideways before they move upwards. This is just one avenue hotels could be using to ensure they’re promoting well-rounded individuals to leadership roles. It also showcases to those just entering the industry that they can forge their career within hospitality. It’s so much more than a summer job.
Village Hotels have been a prime example of diversifying their learning pathways. Their investment in training means they’re now able to offer upskilling and cross-skilling to employees where it had previously only been offered to those already in managerial roles. They’re able to develop well-rounded individuals who are ready to step up to the plate when the opportunities arise.
The situation in hotels has a lot of scope for positive change. We’re already seeing hotels break new ground through their training and investment in employee wellbeing. It seems to me that these are how we can still encourage people into what is arguably one of the most exciting and varied industries to be in.
With everything we’ve learned since the pandemic, I hope this is just the beginning for the next generation of innovative hospitality leaders.