According to a recent YouGov study, 42% of new employees joining the hospitality industry leave their jobs within the first 90 days. The sector as a whole has an employee turnover rate of 30%, which is double the UK average. With the ongoing global labour shortage, that figure is likely to continue to rise, leaving managers with increasing recruitment and training overheads and falling productivity and service levels. But that is where workforce technology can play its part.
While the hospitality and leisure industry has historically been hesitant to invest in technology that empowers frontline employees, there is now an urgency to find a solution to employee attrition. And frontline workforce tech, such as open-shift management platforms and two-way communications technology, holds the potential to improve both the customer and employee experience. Reducing attrition through enhanced employee engagement.
How can frontline workforce technology change the employee experience and reduce churn?
It doesn’t take much logic to realise that an engaged and happy employee is more likely to be a loyal employee. This means that finding ways to enhance engagement and increase employees’ sense of value needs to become a priority if attrition is going to be reduced within the hospitality sector. Through enhanced communication, increased involvement and autonomy, and instilling a sense of personal value, frontline workforce technology can help to create the employee experience that most hospitality companies currently fail to deliver.
How technology can change the frontline workforce experience
Long and often-antisocial hours are part and parcel of working in hospitality and leisure. For some employees, shift work is part of the appeal, enabling them to work around the demands of family and caring or other commitments. But in most organisations, employees have little control over their schedule and difficult schedules can be dropped on employees at very short notice, leaving frontline staff frustrated and feeling undervalued.
With digital tools, such as open-shift management platforms, frontline staff are empowered to take control of their working life. While, of course, shifts still need to be filled, individuals have the ability to swap their allocated hours with colleagues, and take on additional shifts when times are tight – without having to defer to management on each individual occasion. And this can work across multiple locations – if another branch or sister brand needs help to cover all their shifts, the information can be shared with your team members, allowing them to boost their pay packet by pulling extra shifts where they’re available, seamlessly resolving manpower issues for the business with minimal management input.
Improved employee engagement
Hands up to anyone who has ever enjoyed a shift meeting. Who has actively paid attention when a manager has reeled off the list of today’s dos and don’ts? Who has ever taken the time to read anything on the staff noticeboard beyond the week’s shift schedule?
As managers, we expect our teams to pay attention and engage with our business. And yet, we don’t take the time to connect with employees. We put sheathes of training paperwork on the staffroom table and expect people to look at it while they eat and we’re surprised when posters pinned to the noticeboard go unread. To connect with and engage employees more deeply, we have to use the communication tools that employees want to engage with and we have to create a system of open two-way communication.
Providing each employee with a dedicated communication tool, not only creates a more appealing communication network but ensures consistent messaging throughout a business. Open, two-way communication can help employees feel valued – like their opinions are worth listening to at the same time as providing managers with the deep insights, they need to understand first, their frontline workforce. And second, the needs of the customer-facing business, creating a sense of overall cohesion and enhancing workplace culture.
In 2022, a study by McKinsey & Company found that more than 70% of frontline workers have applied for career advancement opportunities. But most interestingly, if the opportunities are not available within their current company, they will seek them elsewhere. With the right frontline workforce technology, businesses can provide direct training opportunities to an entire workforce. Allowing employees to manage their own development – whether additional training related to their current role, cross-training, or upskilling. At the same time ensuring that every opportunity is open to all employees. Removing bias and enhancing integration, helping to build a stronger future for both individual employees and the business as a whole.
There is a whole range of issues influencing attrition in the hospitality industry. Working conditions, benefits, pay – Pret hit the headlines recently for increasing employee pay for the third time in a year, but they’re not the only hospitality company investing in staff. However, often overlooked, business culture and employee engagement are also playing an enormous part. If staff members don’t feel valued, don’t feel listened to, and don’t feel in control, they are never going to feel happy in the workplace and will never become permanent and loyal members of your team.
By Mark Williams, Managing Director EMEA at WorkJam. WorkJam was founded in 2014 to improve the lives of frontline workers. As the world’s leading digital frontline workplace, WorkJam combines communication, task management, scheduling tools, learning, and more – all on one app. It is the only complete and unified system designed to revolutionise the way HQs and their frontline work together, boosting efficiencies and productivity.