Top HR Challenges in the Hospitality Industry

[Scott Samuels, CEO of Horizon Hospitality sits down with SHRM to talk about the biggest HR challenges facing the hospitality industry at the moment]

“…Another enduring problem is the lack of diversity at higher levels of the industry. The industry’s hourly workforce is diverse, but that’s not the case for management.

As a reckoning over race gripped the nation this year, many hospitality companies started evaluating the makeup of their workforces.

‘There’s been such a huge focus on this, companies are turning internally and asking if they represent the world at large,’ says Scott Samuels, CEO of Horizon Hospitality, an executive search firm in Overland Park, Kan., that focuses on the hospitality industry…”

“…When hospitality businesses closed their doors last spring during the early days of the pandemic, one of the first challenges was how to downsize staff.

‘There’s been a big challenge in how to properly reduce the workforce, how to compensate those furloughed or laid off, [and] how to instill loyalty within your current team so they feel valued and like they’re not next on the chopping block,’ Samuels says.

The lessons learned may have to be used again if a winter outbreak of the novel coronavirus causes more shutdowns or if the economy is slow to recover…”

“…Hotels have quit cleaning rooms every day, and some send in robots to disinfect the spaces before housekeepers enter. Others let guests use phone apps to check in and open their room doors without keys. Restaurants have QR codes instead of physical menus.

‘The industry has had to adapt and morph,’ Samuels says. ‘A lot of these things will stay with us.’

The disruption even has some restaurants considering a fixed-rate tip-sharing arrangement. Traditionally, front-of-the-house staff, such as servers, were paid minimum wage but made good money from tips, while kitchen staff had higher base wages but received no tips. Sharing gratuities would make it easier to recruit chefs and cooks, Samuels says. ‘COVID has given people time to re-evaluate that structure.’

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