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Finding NEHA – Non-Existing Hospitality Associates

Article by Mr Gladvin Rego- Principal- The Lexicon school of Hotel management  Post-covid, the hospitality business has grown to levels beyond the pre-covid days. Tourism is flourishing. The general public is travelling, enjoying themselves, entertaining loved

Article by Mr Gladvin Rego- Principal- The Lexicon school of Hotel management 

Post-covid, the hospitality business has grown to levels beyond the pre-covid days. Tourism is flourishing. The general public is travelling, enjoying themselves, entertaining loved ones, and hosting lavish functions. However, the standards of service are drastically falling all over. The only missing aspect is the people who served the guest. Across the world, hotels are struggling to find staff to cater to the guests in different operational departments. I have even heard a hotel manager say, “I just need hands and feet right now; heart and brains can follow later.” The hotel industry is on a mission to find N.E.H.A. – the non-existing hospitality associates.

Here are a few ways in which, I think, the industry can fulfill its manpower requirements.

Lowering some eligibility criteria or maybe doing away with it. A vast pool of earnest workers either do not have the minimum qualifications like grade tenth or cannot converse in English is untapped. These are willing employees who can be employed and trained in a short period. Such a workforce will also stay with you long-term and reduce attrition.

Part-time employees form a large part of the gig economy. Though it is quite popular abroad, Indian hoteliers have always shied away from this category due to the easy availability of labour. College students, mothers with young ones at home, senior professionals and those trying multiple job fits are a part of this pool. Hotels can map business volumes against per-hour labour requirements to employ them. Since these employees receive payment by the hour, managers must justify their needs against the productivity delivered by the department. Though a cumbersome task between operations and human resources, it offers a sustainable and effective long-term solution.

Flexi hours and Job sharing– a job that has flexible working hours give the staff members a much-needed work-life balance. The employee is allowed to choose the time of reporting and leaving work. This creates a larger pool of applicants. For example, some outlets like a Discotheque or a Pub may need staff only during evening and night shifts, while others like Auditors or Beverage Control staff may be required only during certain times of the day or night. Positions like these can be filled by those available to work flexible shifts.

College Internship – also called ‘On The Job’ (OTJ) training, is one of the most utilized and sometimes overexploited methods of finding staff. The noble purpose of hiring interns is to train them and help them get a feel for the job and the industry. However, some hotels today are heavily dependent on interns from colleges. Though a great opportunity for the intern to learn and the organization to meet some of its workforce needs, the raw talent offered by college interns needs to be nurtured appropriately. If not, the industry risks losing them forever. Cross-Departmental and cross-functional training helps the intern find his ideal role in the hotel. A common practice is to let the intern go through all the core departments and then spend some time in one department of their choice for intense training. This may not be the best solution for smaller properties unless the intern is looking for a specialized role.

Training – Hotels also enroll applicants in Government Apprenticeship Programs, which are very popular for F&B service department, Kitchen and Housekeeping. Freshers are coached for skills on the job by mentors and buddies. Classroom training conducted periodically helps the apprentice gain the necessary knowledge, become competent and productive.

Work Environment -Hotels need to invest time and money in improvising their retention strategies to make hotel jobs attractive. The human resource department needs to work closely with operations to create a workplace environment conducive to the growth and development of both the employee and the company. The ‘take it or leave it’ dictum may not work with employing hotel staff in the present day.

Post covid, the impact of an individual’s physical and mental well-being on their productivity and quality of life has taken the front seat. There is a need, now more than ever, to create a work environment that will keep staff mentally and emotionally balanced. Hotels and the entire industry will have to find newer and better ways to source people or N.E.H.A who enjoy working with them.

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komal.hospi@gmail.com

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