The hotel industry faces a significant staffing crisis, with numbers far below pre-pandemic levels. Despite efforts to attract employees, many hotels still need to be staffed. In this blog post, we'll delve into the current staffing crisis plaguing the hotel industry, examine the factors contributing to the shortage, and discuss strategies for employers to navigate these challenges effectively. 

Why is There a Hospitality Staffing Shortage?

While the hotel industry continues to progress toward recovery from the economic toll the pandemic took on hotels and restaurants, it still grapples with staffing like the construction industry. In 2019, when about 2.4 million people worked in the hotel industry, the pandemic brought that number down to just 1.7 million in one year.  

In a 2023 study by the American Hotel and Lodging Association, almost eighty percent of hotels were dealing with staffing shortages. In that same survey, twenty-two percent of those respondents reported that they were severely understaffed. The types of hospitality workers needed the most are housekeepers, with 43% of survey respondents reporting that hiring for this role was their top priority. The AHLA expects employment to continue to rise in 2024 but doesn’t expect it to reach pre-pandemic levels.  

In response to the staffing shortage, 70% of hotels have either reduced or eliminated amenities and services altogether,

Why is There a Shortage of Hospitality Workers? 

Attracting and retaining staff in the competitive hospitality industry has become increasingly challenging. Understanding the following challenges is crucial for employers aiming to create a more appealing and supportive workplace for their employees. 

  • Stressful Work Environments 

    One reason hospitality companies struggle to find staff is the stressful work environments many of their current employees are experiencing. Roles that require interacting with the public can be inherently stressful, with high-paced work days, long hours, and dealing with demanding customers. However, since the pandemic, it’s become a major factor in keeping potential employees away from open positions in the field. Interpersonal arguments and being overloaded with work due to faulty equipment are a few of the stressors hotel workers noted in this study by the National Library of Medicine.   

  • Lack of Flexibility 

    Providing around-the-clock service is incredibly attractive to customers rather than to potential workers. Working late nights or early morning hours where shifts are rigid and inflexible doesn't offer the ability to have the work-life balance that many post-pandemic workers are looking for. In a study by Harri Resource Center and CGA, 54% of the hotel and restaurant workers surveyed cited that unsociable hours were a big reason for the staffing shortages. Being unable to work around personal lives, coupled with the fact that the work can be stressful, is a turn-off for potential workers.  

Make Your Hospitality Business Attractive to Employers 

Becoming an attractive employment option for job seekers is even more critical. Offering competitive salaries is what recruiting managers like you will often do to get more applicants. Still, it will take more than great pay in this challenging labor market. Create a strong employer brand that demonstrates your company values and how your current staff embodies those values. The work required to service your customers may be stressful, but encouraging support and teamwork amongst your staff can make those work days easier. Implementing reward programs and performance incentives, as well as regularly asking for staff feedback on improving work conditions, can also make your company look more attractive to potential workers.  

In a report from the AHLA, 71% of the hospitality managers are increasing wages, 64% are offering flexible schedules, and 33% are expanding their employee benefits in an effort to recruit more hospitality workers.

Recruit Workers Strategically 

Being more intentional with where you recruit workers and how you recruit them is essential in this labor climate. Hosting in-person hiring events and advertising job openings in local communities could significantly add to your hiring strategy. It’s also important to pay attention to the online space, as that’s where many job seekers look for open positions first—posting to general and specialized job boards and social media platforms. Whatever route you choose, ensure that job descriptions are detailed so job seekers understand the job responsibilities and the benefits they’ll gain from working with you. 

If the thought of recruiting hospitality staff seems overwhelming, especially when you’re already busy running your business, enlisting the services of a staffing agency is another option. The key is to work with a staffing agency that knows your business and carefully vets its talent pool to ensure workers meet client needs.  Click here to connect with your local branch to learn more.

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