Breaking Stereotypes: The Future of Hospitality Careers

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5 min read

Jul 5, 2023

Breaking Stereotypes: The Future of Hospitality Careers

The hospitality industry is a dynamic and ever-evolving field, offering many exciting (and accessible) opportunities. But as everyone in the industry knows, attracting and retaining talent has been a persistent challenge for operators. 

Still reeling from the effects the Covid-19 pandemic had on the industry, the hospitality industry remains plagued by vacancies, employee exits and early retirements. Now, operators must navigate a traditionally tricky industry that’s been slammed hard in every direction from forces it can’t control. How are operators handling these kaleidoscopes of challenges? 

Thankfully, things aren’t all doom and gloom. These external forces are an obstacle, yes, but they’ve also helped highlight what’s been broken with hospitality career paths for a long time. Now, industry leaders have the opportunity to fix long-standing problems.

To better understand the future of hospitality careers, we spoke with UK and Australian operators and recruiters to learn how global leaders in the industry are meeting these challenges head-on.

Recently, SevenRooms hosted a panel discussion in Sydney, Australia called Pass the Bread, where industry leaders and operators gathered to discuss important employee retention and hiring issues.

The panel, moderated by Mick Gibb, CEO of the Night Time Industry Association, looked deeply at these subjects. It comprised three people leaders: Rachel Checinski, Chief People Officer at Australian Venue Co; Joanne Sproule, Group GM – Accommodation at PUBLIC Hospitality Group; and Matt Jenkins, Director of People & Culture at Applejack.

Their discussion identified four key trends for changing the perception of the hospitality industry from “filler roles” to viable careers. The core theme being those who invest in their employees have the best chance at success.

Create a Supportive Work Environment

One of the critical strategies highlighted during the panel discussion was the importance of fostering a supportive work environment that values employee well-being and work-life balance. Each leader understood this reality and spoke to the power of supportive work environments.

“I think hospitality’s had a pretty bad rap because it had some pretty hard-hitting headlines of underpayments and a lot of people working long hours,” Checinski said. 

Then, she continued, describing the changes in the industry. “What was acceptable behaviours 20 years ago or even ten years ago — now is not acceptable,” said Checinski. “We need to act quickly. We need to take feedback and concerns seriously and let [workers] know they’re supported. It’s not just about their physical well-being. It’s their mental well-being now. That’s a huge thing.”

In a post-Covid world especially, operators must meet their employees where they are and identify what a healthy work-life balance looks like in their organisation.

Creating a supportive work environment isn’t just an Australian focus. Across the pond, we also spoke with Home Hospitality, a recruiting organisation in London focused on responsible recruiting for the hospitality industry, teaching employers how to treat their staff well. 

Founder, Lauren Barnett, explained to SevenRooms what employees seek in the hospitality world.

“[When considering a career in your venue, candidates are considering] the style of hours, the style of shifts. Things like stability,” she said. “Am I going to be able to grow in it and be looked after? Will there be maternity pay when we want to have a baby? Do they pay well? Will I not be taken advantage of?”

Barnett acknowledges the progress being made, but there’s still tremendous room for improvement, considering the rate of burnout and turnover. On the other hand, employers that value putting people first, like Australian Venue Co., are seeing much higher employee retention.

Australian Venue Co's Employee retention strategy


Australian Venue Co. Addresses the Heart of Employee Retention

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Invest in Training and Leadership Development

To cultivate a thriving workforce, industry operators are investing in training programs and leadership development initiatives.

Checinski shared how Australian Venue Co. recently implemented a leadership roadshow where they visit each venue to discuss with management what leadership really means and how to inspire and coach people.

“We’re running small businesses into large businesses, and it’s complex,” Checinski said. “It’s really underappreciated, just the amount of issues that we all deal with — from licensing to dealing with police to HR.”

By equipping employees with the necessary leadership skills and knowledge to navigate these challenges, organisations can create well-rounded teams and foster stronger career opportunities within their businesses.

Embrace Technology

From contactless delivery to chatbots to automated marketing, a lot is happening in the technology space. Innovation is a major factor in the future of the hospitality industry, but it can feel overwhelming to think about these variables when you’re also struggling to attract or retain talent. 

What if we told you that technology could become your most useful innovation tool?

Sproule’s business, PUBLIC — a hospitality group with a variety of hotel and F&B concepts including El Primo Sanchez, Oxford House and The Strand Hotel — is “embracing a bit of the crazy,” after realising that dynamic technology is an excellent chance for innovation and empowerment because the tech uncovers opportunities. What’s more, they encourage their employees to bring ideas to the table on how to utilise tech. In some ways, it’s a form of democratisation — a breeding ground for new ways of thinking.

That kind of thinking from industry leaders is helping foster an environment for new types of careers and opportunities in hospitality. 

“You learn a bit more about what people want to do, where they want to move,” Sproule said. “We just had someone who was a venue manager who just moved into our IT team. We’ve moved people into roles that maybe you wouldn’t hire outside the business but that have come up in the last 12 to 24 months.”

She went on to explain that this approach helps foster an innovative culture within the organisation. Everyone truly gets to trial their ideas and build their own way. The most successful hospitality groups are the ones who embrace not only what’s happening today, but what will happen tomorrow. 

Encouraging your team or front desk members to research and understand technology trends — apps, mobile check-ins and digital messaging will help your establishment stay ahead of competitors. It’s also another way to offer career advancement because employees can list different technology skills on their resume for future opportunities. For example, learning how to operate a robust tech solution like SevenRooms could make a candidate a more attractive hire.

FYI: ChatGPT is transforming countless industries and helping people streamline work — including hospitality venues. Are you ready to encourage your team to leverage this powerful tool? From marketing to customer service, here are several ways AI can help the hospitality world.

Encourage Employee Ownership

Finally, our panel experts encouraged embracing employee ownership and giving them a voice within the organisation. 

Jenkins shared insights into their culture at Applejack, which flips the traditional organisational chart upside down. Instead of placing leadership at the top, the venues and their staff are considered the most important, with leadership only existing to support them. It’s not enough to implement a policy based on what you think the staff needs. To nurture teams effectively, you must debut informed policies from experience.

“Culture is created by having a connection with people,” he said. “All of our head office basecamp team all work in our venues. We spend a lot of time working on the ground with them during service as much as we can. I’m not good at making cocktails, but I gave it a go last Christmas. Washing the dishes and cleaning the bar, that’s the way we show we got your back and we respect you.”

Jenkins believes this is the best way possible to truly support employees. They notice the efforts being made to understand their impact within the overall organisation — they feel valued and heard and believe more strongly in the company’s culture as a result.

This commitment to immersive decision-making also creates a sense of ownership at all levels, from guest relations to the C-suite.

Finding Success in the Future of Hospitality

The hospitality stereotypes aren’t great, but that only means there’s room for significant, meaningful change. Don’t be discouraged by the challenges. Embrace them.

Achieving this requires concerted efforts from industry operators to change the narrative and attract talented individuals. As an operator, you must push yourself to foster supportive and successful work environments — no different than how you develop innovative food dishes for your menus.

Remember: Respect breeds success, and success breeds respect. That’s a pattern operators can get behind. 

SevenRooms is a guest experience and retention platform built to help hospitality operators streamline operations while elevating the guest experience. To learn more, book a demo today.   

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