Attract, Recruit, Retain

From visiting career expos to utilising recruiters, we explore the various ways venue managers can attract staff, as well as retain and develop them for the long-term.

The hospitality industry is known for having a high staff turnover – unavoidable in a sector that is so attractive to those studying or looking for casual work. When you’re running a venue, however, it can end up feeling as if you’re always on the hunt for new employees. Luckily, there’s plenty of help in this area from recruitment services like White Now, recruitment websites and support systems such as ClubsNSW.

Ron Brown is Professional Development Manager for ClubsNSW and thinks there’s something to be said for retaining staff by promoting hospitality as a career, rather than simply as a stopgap before people move on and get a ‘real job’.

“We’re doing all we can to change this perception and regularly point out to students we meet on our travels that some of the big clubs employ up to 600 staff and have marketing and IT departments,” he says. “They need graphic designers and people working in human resources. It’s not all bar work.”

“We’ve got some irons in the fire to help this process along, including working with an organisation that helps to run National Skills Week.” he continues. “They do showcases around New South Wales where they talk about different careers and alternative paths to university. We also have a couple of educational programs to engage clubs with local schools. Plus, whenever we’re at career expos, we make it a point to chat with kids and their parents about how hospitality can be a fantastic career choice.”

Jenny White is Director of White Now, a hospitality recruitment company that has worked alongside MAX Venue Solutions to help find staff for many years. White comes with 20 years of experience in recruitment, and specialises in recruiting for the club, gaming and hospitality industry.

“Over the years, we have gained the trust of people, and not only understand the values of the businesses we are recruiting for, but also the leadership styles that their teams are used to. This is what being immersed in an industry brings – unbeatable knowledge.”

As well as having industry knowledge and the contacts to find the right staff quickly, and efficiently, White and her team pride themselves on looking at recruitment a little bit differently. Rather than focusing on hitting recruitment targets and monthly financial goals, they concentrate solely on finding the right staff for a business.

“My team are rewarded for the care they take of our customers and candidates, and never for financial results,” says White. “There are only a few things that are important in this business, and that is that every customer walks away happy with their expectations exceeded.”

Exceeding expectations is where using a recruitment agency can be incredibly helpful. As well as saving you time – because they understand what you need and can articulate this in a well-written job description – recruitment agencies can also help ensure potential staff members are truly suited to the industry.

If a company with a lot of experience does this, then the candidates to interview should be the best of the bunch, which makes the job of interviewing a whole lot of people easier. For both you and them.

Top tips to recruit and retain your staff

For any employer, the most critical asset they have is their people. People are also every employer’s most significant cost, says entrepreneur and managing director of recruitment specialist firm Chorus Executive, Christine Khor.

Khor spoke at MAX Venue Solutions’ (MAX) Big Picture Breakfast event in October last year and told the room that people are the number one issue in every business, and businesses in the hospitality and gaming sector are no exceptions.

“If you think about your time as managers and leaders – how much time did you spend worrying about who you’re hiring, who you’re firing, who you’re training and how your staff are treating your customers? We need to focus on the right strategies to hire the right staff, as well as to retain them,” she said.

Khor, who also wrote Hire Love: How To Hire Passionate People To Make Greater Profit, shares with us her top recruitment strategies, while also posing some questions for employers to think about:

  • Research and spend the time to understand the talent you really need for the business. Be realistic about the requirements and have a few concise definitions of the role.
  • It’s important to remember that recruitment today is different to what it was years ago. Today, candidates are assessing potential employers as much as the employers are evaluating them.
    According to Khor, the number one reason why staff leave is, you, the manager. She says, employers need to think: “How does your place of work differ from the others? How do you, as an employer and as a business, attract these candidates? What’s in it for them? Why are you great to work for?
  • Focus on your current staff – your brand ambassadors. It’s important to reflect on what they could be saying about your business in their social circles, and how they define you as an employer. If your current staff members are engaged, doing good work and being recognised, they are the best advocates for your customers, as well as your future employees.
  • As you go through the hiring process, it’s essential to be emphatic to the candidate. Finding a job is an arduous process. For a candidate, it is putting him or herself in front of people while understanding the high possibility of rejection. As you interview candidates, be present and not distracted by your other tasks. And, if you do find them unfit for the role, let them down gracefully and respectfully.
  • Onboarding – this isn’t an induction process. Induction focuses on the formal and administrative part of the job and organisation, such as OH&S (Occupational Health and Safety) policies, sick leave policies and so on. Onboarding, however, is a socialisation process of finding out how to work together as a team.

While managers are on-hand to teach new staff the tasks, Khor recommends that employers pick a buddy for the new staff member to feel socially supported by the people in the business. According to Khor, if you onboard someone successfully in the first 90 days, you will get 60 percent higher productivity and retention rates.

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