by John Fingleton – Hospitality development and recruitment consultant.
That the hospitality industry is in crisis is nothing new and has been widely reported on the media. Shortage of the right skills is rife and there seems to be little concerted effort to address the issue.
All efforts seem to be in marketing the country as a great destination for tourism, but no effort is been made to ensure that experience matches the expectations. Sure Ireland is not a bad destination and service is by and large ok, but let’s face it, it is a long way to deliver those experiences that wow our visitors leaving them wanting to come back for more rather than search for the next holiday in the sun.
Yes, Ireland, in case you have not noticed, is handicapped. So we need to go the extra mile to attract and create loyal visitors that come back as often as they can.
Part of the problem, is that we do not have the right skills anymore. After squeezing the labour market towards lower wages, we have now come to realise that the right skills have left the country. In the quest for survival we never anticipated this problem and did little to create and retain a standard synonymous with quality. No continuity planning, which is manifest in our inability to create the type of experience that turns a once-off customer into a loyal visitor.
So, if part of the problem is access to the right talent, what is part of the solution? A good recruitment agency. Finding the right partner that shares the same goals and has the right platform to look after your long term goals.
I should explain. The hospitality industry has always and will always be about creating an experience for our guests. Experiences that will make them not remember the details of the receipt but leave a lasting impression that they have just been at a gathering in their best friends house where they not only made new acquaintances but were treated like family. Something especial. The quintessence of the Irish experience.
After spending most of my career in the operations end of this fast paced industry, I learned at an early age in my career, that many hands make light work and especially if all those hands understand what and where the organisation has it sights set on achieving. I was taught and found great benefit in the understanding that to delegate task specific roles to each member of my team and then allow them be the experts in the particular role that you have hired them for and ultimately hold them accountable for their actions always gave us our greatest success .
It is about trust. But to trust your team you need to be confident on the capacity, ability and attitude of its members. So how much effort are you really putting in finding the right team?
I witness unconvinced how an industry that relies on people, their skills, their connections and their know-how, has given control to online job boards as a valid substitute to the human aspect of dealing with an accredited recruitment agency who have worked, have become experts in the industry and are ably placed to get an in depth understanding of your organisation, its culture and its short to long term needs.
These recruiters in most situations have invested not only time and energy into securing a perfect match but also have the vested interest of building long term partnership as the only way to deliver people that help you create guest experiences that surpass expectations.
The professional agency typically has a process designed to vet the candidates to get the standard that it is suitable to cover the needs of your organisation. What is involved? A lot more than you think.
● Work the ins and outs of a job specification to get a clear picture of the actual requirements for the ideal candidate, but also of the personality to match the organisation’s culture.
● Agree the right package with the client to attract the right talent for the job. This may involve having to educate the organisation as to the current and future market trends that inform the decision of the offer to secure the kind of person they truly want and in most cases need.
● Go through their database of people looking for existing people that they know and trust can deliver the job. If there are currently no matches they will typically probe their network of reliable contacts and sources looking for a referred candidate.
● Start the screening process with the people suitable for the role. Time and effort are dedicated to build a first hand rapport with the people to ensure there is a clear match in terms of skills and personality. Some companies even resort to profiling companies that provide suitability assessment if the person is new to the recruiter and have not been with them previously.
● First hand checking of at least three reference with previous employers to verify capability, ability and personality, and also to unearth some important information that may have been overlooked previously.
● Once a small number of shortlisted candidates is selected, final checks and individual conversations take place to ensure the person is suitable to be put forward for an interview with the organisation. A good recruiter would not typically refer someone for interview unless they are sure that they are the right fit for the client. The recruiter’s reputation is at stake.
● Only when the recruiter is sure, they will forward all the information and refer the person for an interview. At this point the organisation knows that everyone referred by the recruiter can ably do the job, and it is just about the connection between organisation and the person, that gut feeling based on the interaction. It is about feeling.
This typical process is designed to alleviate the workload of your HR manager and in most cases your HOD’s who we know, and appreciate, are already busy trying to not only manage their current teams, but also trying to find time to train and develop their team while also juggling their time to get to spend some on the floor making a connection with their guests. Therefore, a reputable recruitment company, will typically will send three potential candidates at most, that they can trust will strengthen your team, rather than send you 20 candidates and let you do the work the recruiter should have done in the first place.
The top hospitality providers gravitate towards the expert recruitment agency model, as it delivers a sure stream of the right talent already matched to the expectations of the standard a business wants to uphold. Definitely the service is not cheaper, but in contrast it provides sure hits more often, and truly assists in reducing the management overheads of those involved in personnel selection and training and, guest what, it offers continuity, which today in a war of attrition it is invaluable. It is about best value.