The recruitment process can be costly, so any business that wants to try to get it right first time with a minimum of disruption. So what exactly can you be doing before a vacancy even exists, or once your search is on, to attract and hire the best people to your business?
It is estimated that the average cost of recruitment in the UK hospitality industry is around £1500 per person. If you end up with over a hundred applicants for the same job (as some hotels report) it's easy to see just how easily this figure can mount up, just on management time alone to sift through all the applications, let alone advertising, interviewing, and induction. And that's without considering the potential lost opportunities for productivity, customer service and increased sales due to lack of key staff. So retaining your existing team is the priority.
But, from time to time even your most loyal people will leave. With such a number of applicants chasing each vacancy start by defining precisely what you're looking for and specify this in your advertising and to your agency if you use one. Recruit on attitude rather than on skills alone. Systems and procedures and basic skills can be taught, whereas an enthusiasm for food and wine, and a passion for hospitality and service need to be minimum requirements.
Don't limit your recruitment search to people who respond to your adverts. Use your network of business contacts, your existing team and even your customers to help you find the best candidates. Network or socialise where your prospective staff are; this will not only help to build relationships and reputation but will give you an opportunity to see people in a more relaxed environment. Start developing a "candidate pool" rather than waiting until you suddenly have a vacancy to fill.
Develop relationships with agencies as well as recruitment officers from local colleges and universities. Allow your existing team to participate in professional associations and training where they're likely to be in contact with potential candidates.
Create a culture where the best employees will want to work, and build a reputation as a good employer so you attract the best people. A prerequisite is looking after your existing staff; they are far more likely to recommend you to others and spread the word that it's a great place to work. Monitor the reputation of your business; listen to what your staff say, especially those who leave. Put yourself forward for awards to help build your repetition as a good employer.
Promote from within when ever possible. Always let your existing staff know when a position is available. Even if this is not a step up, it may present a new challenge to keep someone motivated. If you do have internal applicants treat them in the same way as your external ones - acknowledging receipt of their application, interviews, offer letters, salary details, etc. If internal candidates do not get the job ensure you give feedback to help with their development and to encourage them to apply for future positions.
If you're not involved with the recruitment process yourself, ensure you train your management team how to recruit. Do they also know what values and attitude you are looking for? I recently read that that at PEER 1 they get people to spend the first 10 minutes of the interview drawing pictures of something that motivates or inspires them. That's what they talk about during the first part of the interview. I take a similar approach on training course - it's so simple and really helps to get people talking...
Involve your existing team in the recruitment process. This will demonstrate your belief in them and strengthen their commitment to helping the new employee succeed.
At a potential cost of £1500 a time, it's well worth giving recruitment the same respect and commitment you give to any other aspect of running your business.
About Caroline Cooper
Caroline Cooper is a business coach with over 25 years' experience in business and leadership development, and founder of Zeal Coaching, specializing in working with hospitality businesses, and is author of the Hotel Success Handbook. She is also creator of the Foundations in Leadership online leadership programme for hospitality managers, and other leadership programmes. For more information, articles and free resources see http://www.zealcoaching.com/products-resources/.