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14th Jan, 2022

Sam Baldwinson
Sam Baldwinson
Job Title
Business Manager

Hospitality leaders will need to focus on attraction, retention, and technology this year to stay competitive.

Adapting to survive

As Charles Darwin said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.”

The hospitality sector has adapted well to every challenge the pandemic has thrown at it so far, and this year it will continue to focus on recovery. For hospitality, this won’t necessarily mean returning to the way things were before Covid-19, but transforming into something new and more resilient.

Most of the changes that have impacted the sector have been out of business leaders’ control, e.g. travel restrictions and lockdowns – but one factor that companies can control is the implementation of technology.

Technology and hospitality

Business leaders in the sector have increasingly turned to technology, such as apps for table/room services, smart technology, and more modern conveniences. These are designed to support workers and allow them to do more with their time, working smarter rather than harder. They provide a more efficient service for customers and, ultimately, a better return on investment for employers.

While there have always been concerns around technology replacing workers in hospitality, machines are unlikely to ever be able to replace people – just as we’ve seen with many other inventions designed for hospitality in the past.

Per the results of a Reed snap survey of 500 professionals across all sectors, technology was only the third-most important skill employers were looking for, with 42% saying it was in their top five - the top-two skills were communication (68%) and teamwork (63%). While technology is increasingly important, the sector needs human qualities that cannot be replicated by machines. People will always be essential to the success of hospitality, with guests expecting good customer service and a friendly atmosphere which is best created by humans.

What workers want

The hospitality and leisure sector has always had a high turnover rate, but more so since the pandemic. The disruption caused mass furloughing and closures, causing many to leave the sector. Now that many businesses have reopened, the sector faces staff shortages.

Now more than ever, hospitality leaders need to invest in their workers and show their employees that they care about their success. Offering opportunities to develop is the best way to do this, because not only does this show an employee they are valued, but it also increases their longevity as a result.

Understanding what hospitality workers want will allow leaders to invest in the right benefits for their teams. Increasingly, remote, hybrid, and flexible working models have been introduced. Being open-minded about new ways of working will make any job offer more attractive in the current job market. Hiring managers must also be aware of what salaries to offer to attract the best talent, and what they should be paying their existing employees to encourage them to stay.

Benefits in demand

Our survey asked professionals which benefits they received and which they wanted. The figures didn’t always match up, indicating a gap between what employers are offering and what professionals currently receive. This means employers are spending money on benefits such as discounts on brands (35%) and company mobile phones (44%) that a majority of their workforce doesn’t want. Only 9% of professionals cited company mobile phones as a top-five benefit, and even fewer said the same about brand discounts (5%).

Paid annual leave was both the most desirable benefit (70%) and the one professionals received most, with over 80% of respondents listing it in their top five for both questions. Health insurance (51%) and performance bonuses (48%) were the next two most appealing benefits. According to our data, the reception of health insurance matches its demand, but there is a slight gap where employers aren’t providing performance bonuses to professionals who would prefer that to other benefits.

We can see that a much higher percentage of people have access to remote, hybrid and flexible working than those who said it was a top-five benefit for them. It is surprising that the popularity of these working models has slightly dropped off. It could either be a result of ‘Zoom fatigue’ or just because it’s become expected rather than perceived as an additional benefit.

Business leaders and jobseekers can use our salary guides to ensure they understand the job market and can stay competitive.

Download our 2024 hospitality salary guide now for more data and insight from our specialist recruiters.