Can technology help solve staffing shortages in the hospitality industry?

Hospitality staffing technology

The Covid-19 pandemic has undeniably caused significant disruption to the hospitality industry. Repeated lockdowns and limited Government support resulted in many businesses being forced to lay off staff, temporarily close, or make significant changes. The hospitality industry has long been underappreciated, and the lack of support pre-existing the pandemic placed businesses in a more vulnerable position. As a result, many hospitality businesses are searching for ways to improve productivity and increase efficiency, intending to eliminate issues such as staff shortages. Technology will play a significant role in this process.

Flexibility in digitisation

A key benefit of integrating technology into hospitality businesses is the increase in flexibility when arranging staff scheduling. Hospitality is particularly prone to having busy seasons and times of day, with other seasons and times being much quieter. Therefore, it would be completely inefficient to keep staff schedules completely the same, day in, day out, all year round.

Technology offers the opportunity for a fully digitised scheduling system. Through this, employees can make their availability known to management ahead of time, and the schedule can take as many of these adjustments into consideration as possible. In the wake of the pandemic, employee retention has become incredibly important, and by demonstrating an awareness of employee needs, a business is far more likely to increase loyalty, productivity, and commitment.

Once a business has identified higher footfall, employee scheduling can be adjusted to ensure that busier times are fully staffed. By the same token, quieter times can be left with reduced staff to ensure that employees are available for important shifts. This optimises the use of staff, assisting the business in running more efficiently.

The digitisation of scheduling also facilitates easier shift-swapping between employees. Open communication channels ensure that all employees are in contact and can advertise shifts to be covered. The schedule can then easily be amended by management once a shift swap has been agreed upon. This efficient method helps avoid understaffing, particularly during demanding times.

Creating a positive work environment

Over 50% of people place a positive work environment over pay in terms of their priority when looking for employment. Positivity and support in the workplace should therefore be a strong priority for businesses, especially in the hospitality industry where there are current issues in employee shortages.

Communication plays a significant role in the creation of a positive work environment. Without effective communication, employees often feel a sense of insecurity in terms of workplace support, may feel isolated, and could even feel underappreciated by others in the business. Open communication channels allow employees to interact with each other regularly, regardless of where they stand in the business hierarchy. Centralised communication also allows for interpersonal communication and bottom to top feedback, so that employees can voice their concerns to the relevant people within the business. Facilitated by technology, these more effective forms of communication can create a much more positive working environment with strong company culture, where employees feel valued and respected. This will not only make a business more appealing to those searching for a job in hospitality, but it will also improve employee retention.

Opportunity for progression

Employee training and the prospect of progression within the business are also key to employee retention. Technology can facilitate online training courses, available to all employees, complete with badges or qualifications to demonstrate their progress. The appropriate employees can then be chosen for promotion when required, based on their proven skills and abilities.

These opportunities are great motivation for employees, and when advertised to job seekers, can give a business the edge over the competition. Keeping these employee benefits in mind whilst tackling staff shortages is vital.

Technology, diversity, and inclusion

It is important not to forget the importance of diversity and inclusion in business practice. Inadequate diversity and inclusion practices often create a discouraging, discriminatory, and undesirable workplace for employees, particularly those from minority groups. Without actively encouraging diversity and inclusion, businesses run the risk of driving away employees, which would worsen staff shortage problems.
Diversity and Inclusion training can be easily provided to all employees through technology, opening the opportunity for employees to enrol on courses to improve their awareness of bias and discrimination. Effective communication channels should also allow employees to report breaches of diversity and inclusion policy in the workplace, anonymously if they wish. Information surrounding diversity and inclusion practises can also be included in digital introduction packs for new employees, reassuring them that the workplace that they are entering is welcoming and safe.

Technology holds the potential to substantially improve the employee experience, encouraging job seekers to choose your business over others, improving the employee experience, and increasing employee retention. These factors will contribute significantly to overcoming the problem of staff shortages.