Hospitality Career Perception KSB Recruitment

Hospitality Career Perception Needs to Change

Employer values headline employee job wants and needs in hospitality

We need to change the perception that hospitality is a stopgap or weekend job to one that shows us as a career of choice, enabling people to think beyond entry-level.

We can create innovative, indulgent, and flavour-packed dishes, but if we don’t have the talent to complete the customer experience, it’s an opportunity wasted. Therefore, we have a responsibility to do all we can to ensure the employee experience is unbeatable, in order to attract and retain the very best.

Changing the misconception that work in hospitality is low-paid and low-skilled is key to this. A recent study by TheJobCrowd found that hospitality is one of the very best industries for career progression and development.

But knowing the facts and figures simply isn’t enough. Progression and personal development within a company or even within the industry must not only be feasible, but visible, to show that loyalty and hard work is rewarded.

Highlighting aspirational, real-life hospitality role models who have risen within your industry can be an effective way to do this. Take a few of our Levy people for example – Compass Cymru MD and Levy Operations Director Jane Byrd began her career as a Compass graduate, David Hay, who leads our business in Scotland, started as a kitchen porter, and I started my hospitality career as a kitchen porter working my way up to MD of Levy UK+ I.

Demonstrating you have the structures in place to grow talent from within, such as graduate or apprenticeship schemes, shows that you are ready to invest in talent. For example, as part of our internal resource platform, Constellation, Levy has 25 Kickstarters and 17 apprentices on the ladder to success.

Emphasising the long-term pathways and the breadth and depth of opportunities available can help to ensure that a career in hospitality is recognised for the high skilled occupation that it is.

Constellation, and the team within it, has also provided us with a clear strategy for getting staff to where our teams need them and has allowed us to support all of our venues that tap into the resource. This has ensured that Levy is able to continue to offer our legendary experiences for our upcoming event schedule.

An added bonus is that the majority of the staff coming through are under 25, allowing us to show them how hospitality is a route forward in their careers.

With an ever-younger workforce, it’s not just the day-to-day job that matters to employees – it’s a company’s purpose. What is a business doing to make a positive impact, aside from boosting profits for shareholders?

Millennials, and now Gen Z, increasingly want to work for businesses that share their values, whether this is paying them fairly for the work they provide, something we are proud to do in Levy, or ensuring the company looks after both their physical and mental health. Our industry must be bold in communicating the company’s purpose with them and in practising what we preach. Ignoring what is important to them risks cutting off two-thirds of the young talent pool.

As both consumers and employees, millennials are the most sustainability-conscious generation to date: recent research has found over 70% would rather work at a company with a strong environmental agenda. With the hospitality industry contributing to a huge volume of food waste and greenhouse gas emissions, it may seem incompatible with young people’s desire to work for a ‘green’ employer.

For Levy’s part, we are pleased to be leading by example in driving new sustainable and ethical practices within the industry: increasing plant-based options, slashing food waste, and focusing on using local, seasonal produce. These initiatives also extend more widely to Compass Group, which has committed to reach Net Zero by 2030: the foodservice industry’s first commitment to a climate net-zero economy.

A company’s values are also judged on how its people are treated. Across the UK, the hospitality industry is incredibly diverse – not only in terms of gender, race, and ethnicity but also in its ability to cater to different lifestyles. It is well-placed to provide flexible working programmes that provide suitable career pathways as well as a work-life balance for many parents.

On average, 62% of requests for flexible hours come from women looking to fit work around childcare arrangements after maternity leave. Employees must be flexible in order to ensure anybody who wants to join the workforce is able to, without sacrificing their home life. This includes flexibility in employment contracts, working hours, and sufficient notice given regarding shifts.

Put simply, our industry offers our customers and teams everything we have craved over the last 18 months of lockdown, but without the talent to deliver it, the experience isn’t half as thrilling.

Hospitality has work to do to show potential staff that it is a rewarding career worthy of pursuit. Employers will need to draw in workers with promises of support at work, opportunities for meaningful career progression, and the assurance that they will reflect and uphold the values they hold close.

The original version of this article was first published in Hospitality & Catering News

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