Industry trends

How to make onboarding stress-free for your hospitality staff

Petra Hancz

Petra Hancz

How to make onboarding stress-free for your hospitality staff

Difficulties in finding enough of the right hospitality staff aren’t over. Statistics released in February revealed that in the US accommodation and food service businesses were still experiencing a quit rate of 4.3% — way above other industries. 

Pair that with the fact that staff training is still the third biggest challenge for 59% of hoteliers seeking to optimise their operations, and it’s obvious why staff onboarding is of critical importance. Hospitality operators are still having to work hard to recruit, and hiring staff who leave quickly remains one of the biggest avoidable own-goals they can experience.

Employees will often depart because they’re not receiving the support and job satisfaction they were expecting, but research shows proper onboarding can change all that. 

Staff find a job stickier if they’re onboarded properly. In fact, 69% of them will probably stay for three years or more if they have a positive onboarding experience, according to Deloitte. This can completely transform the efficiency and operations of businesses that rely heavily on people.

And they’ll do more than stay. They’ll be happier in their roles and that will be reflected in their performance as well as guest satisfaction. 

Onboarding has become more of a focus for hotels and serviced apartment operators because the sector’s younger staff are very reluctant to use outdated software. They are digital natives who have grown up with user-friendly apps that are intuitive. They demand the same when they go to work – as such, operators are using their adoption of the latest tech to attract and retain the best candidates. After all, it’s still a seller’s labour market in most major economies, and this is keeping competition for staff high. 

Digital tools have changed what onboarding looks like, however, so you’ve got to be strategic in how you approach it.

So how do you onboard well? 

Stress-free onboarding depends on FIVE factors:

  • Digitise: Hospitality management is fully digital for many operators now, so it’s a fantastic opportunity to digitise the onboarding process too. This has the added benefit that other members of staff aren’t stuck training them, so they can concentrate on other things.  

  • Helping hand: Even if new staff will do most of their learning in-app, don’t leave out the human element completely. They will have questions so give them a buddy or make sure a member of the senior team is available to answer queries. 

  • Culture: If using digital guest journey and hospitality management tools (including property management software, unified inbox for guest messaging and housekeeping or maintenance scheduling), then explain early on why these are important to guests. New staff need to understand why the guest journey they are responsible for is sought after and highly valued, because in some buildings they’re not going to have as much contact with guests as they might have done 20 years ago. Guest interactions prompt many workflow tasks so staff need to be able to see the hand of the guest behind many of the things they see on their cloud PMS. Those most successful at onboarding staff know they can’t just say these things once — these principles are rehearsed repeatedly so they become ingrained in the company culture.

  • They’re not alone: Many web and app-based property management tools have their own online communities. Knowing it’s there on day one will help new staff seek help and answer common queries. It will make them feel like part of a much bigger team, even if they’re really working for a small chain. These often go hand-in-hand with e-learning modules, hands-on training and troubleshooting.

  • Harness AI: The latest AI tools are transforming property management and hotel automation but they’re also impacting staff training. Operators can train staff using a virtual-reality sandbox to simulate real life situations. It’s fast, accurate and it can even create personalised training programmes for individuals based on where they need the most support. 

Hotel Illuster & Hotel Banana City in Switzerland takes a really proactive approach to onboarding and the benefits it can bring. The digitisation made possible by switching their hotel tech stack to Apaleo’s open API platform meant that they were able to reduce the number of mundane tasks staff were forced to undertake. This made onboarding easier, with roles appearing more exciting, fast paced and engaging — and staff training time was reduced from two months to just two weeks. 

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