Human resource managers oversee the recruiting, interviewing and hiring of staff and serve as the bridge between management and employees. In the hospitality industry, HR must not only cultivate a skilled and dedicated talent pool but also retain it in a demanding job field.

Hospitality is a dynamic industry, one of the largest in the world, and it continues to grow as more and more people have money and are willing (and able) to enjoy travels, leisure and dining pursuits. However, as a result of this continual growth, HR departments in hospitality struggle with a large number of issues, ranging from finding enough qualified candidates to fill the roles to retaining high-performing employees. Employee turnover in hospitality currently stands at a little over 70% annually, which is exceptionally high, considering experts agree the average is between 10-15% in other industries. HR in the hospitality industry has to continue supporting employees throughout their employment, ensuring employee satisfaction, growth opportunities and career development training where appropriate, ironing out payroll issues and implementing benefits schemes where possible.

“If the employees aren’t happy, you can’t expect the guests to have a good experience.”

– J. Bruce Tracey, professor of management at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.

Successful hotel operations are sustained by customer-oriented and hard-working employees who have adequate competencies. Hence, HR in the hospitality industry plays an essential role: HR keeps employees happy so that they maintain the excellent reputation of the business and keeps customers happy by ensuring employees behave appropriately and according to company policy.

It is also critical for the human resources department to understand state and federal employment laws to guarantee the business complies. Jobs within the hospitality industry can be hazardous and must abide by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety codes.

Businesses that don’t abide by safety codes can face penalties, fines and lawsuits. It’s also HR’s responsibility to investigate misconduct claims, provide the necessary disciplinary actions, and ensure businesses abide by a zero-tolerance policy toward discrimination.

The Distress that the pandemic brought…

The global coronavirus pandemic hit with the force of a tsunami, leaving  many hospitality companies clinging to survival.

The restaurant industry this year is on track to lose $240 billion. In mid-September, roughly 3 million restaurant employees were out of work and one-sixth of all restaurants were closed permanently or for the long term, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Hotel workers experienced a devastating 38 percent unemployment rate earlier this year, and nearly two-thirds of U.S. hotels had occupancy rates of 50 percent or less late this summer—not enough to pay the bills, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

The number of jobs in entertainment and recreation plunged 31 percent between September 2019 and September 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

When the coronavirus waters ebb, the landscape is likely to show some of the same problems that human resource leaders in the industry have long struggled with—low wages and high turnover, a lack of diversity in the higher ranks, and the need to recruit and retain capable talent. But the virus has also remade businesses, including in some ways that present new opportunities. Remote work is more common. Jobs now come with greater flexibility. And job descriptions are broader.

How can you improve on your existing functions, and boost HR in the hospitality industry?

1.         Create an inclusive workplace

Lead by example and connect with every employee. Encourage interaction outside staff silos.

Hold brainstorming ideas or get-togethers with unusual combinations of staff members. Create employee resource groups such as working parents or LGBTQ, and encourage HR to support them.

2.         Use metrics / track performance

3.         Build incentive programs Career development training

Mentoring programs for career and personal development Offering flexible schedules

Employee recognition schemes – rewarding top-performing employees Retirement planning and pension benefits

Health and wellness packages including health and dental insurance, or gym membership or discounts

Free start-up kits including comfortable, slip-resistant shoes and a set of work clothing Establishing bonuses tied to customer satisfaction or reward employees who meet their goals

Creating incentives unique to each employee (where possible) – such as money or gift cards, extra time off to short vacations

4.         Cultivate your talent

5.         Communicate clearly

Including training on company best practices in the onboarding process, as well as explaining the company’s values and mission right at the start.

Training managers on great ways to communicate with employees.

Create a company culture that encourages open dialogue – demonstrate this from the top down through regular team meetings, newsletters or open letters or emails that keep employees abreast of happenings. Encourage questions and feedback and new ideas.

Provide a platform for knowledge/best practice sharing – a Facebook page or an internal social platform, for example.

Plan company events – create opportunities for employees to interact outside of the regular working day, such as happy hour after work or a team day out.

6.         Make your payroll system efficient

Adopt a self-service model – relieve HR staff of responsibility for keeping employee records up to date. Instead, empower employees to take responsibility for their own personal information.

Keep your reimbursement policies simple.

Switch to electronic pay statements. It will streamline your delivery of pay statements and help the planet. Win-win.

7.         Turn employees into brand ambassadors

8.         Automate the recruitment process

9.         Keep the momentum going past recruitment

10.       Have a memorandum of understanding (MOU)

Outline what you expect of employees and what they can expect in return.

Include agendas such as employee rights, privileges, expected behaviour, and routine duties.

11.       Create internal hiring pools



Jyotsna Suri also known as the face of the Indian Hospitality Industry, is the Chairperson and Managing Director of Bharat Hotels Limited that runs The Lalit Hotels, Palaces and Resort. She has led Bharat Hotels journey from just six to fourteen luxury hotels in a short span of time.

Born on 20th July 1952, she attended The Lawrence School, Sanawar, Himachal Pradesh. Later, she completed her Bachelor’s degree in English Honors from Miranda House, University of Delhi.  She  is the recipient of ‘Doctor of Laws’ (honorary) from the University of Warwick, United Kingdom.

Jyotsna Suri started her career at Bharat Hotels Limited in 1987 as its Joint Managing Director. A self- confessed workaholic hotelier, she took over the role of Chairperson and Managing Director in 2006, after the demise of her husband, Lalit Suri, the group founder. Two years later, she led a successful brand change for the hotel chain – The Lalit, under The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group.

Her efforts to strengthen the economic and tourism ties of Indian – Japan won her the prestigious Order of the Rising Sun (Gold and Silver) by the Government     of Japan in November 2019. Along with being listen among the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business by Fortune India, she has also been named as the Most Influential Woman by Business World in the same year.

She quotes “If you desire to be a hotelier, approach your work with dedication and passion. Be patient and persevere your goal, despite the roadblocks and at the end of it, you will achieve success.”



Article corner

Two tenants: Different floors

The colors that make my dull, mundane life colorful

Do they have any impact on you?

The raindrops that take away every sorrowful moment of mine

And push me to dance my pain out in the falling raindrops

Do they do you any good?

The rising orangish sun that gives me yet another hope to not give up on my dreams

Do its rays even fall on you?

Maybe my world is entirely different than yours.

Maybe we are two tenants living in the same building but on different floors!

Shivani Pandey, Penultimate year law student UPES, Dehradun

This article is brought to you by:

Humain-I, HR Club

Indian Institute of Management Indore



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