Graeme Scott, co-founder of online tailored training solution Tayl.net, says providing flexible online courses for employees is essential if firms are to find and retain staff and offer the customer service levels they need to operate profitably
Guest Post: Firms can beat the skills shortage crisis by upskilling online
The pandemic has forced hospitality businesses to drastically ramp up their digital transformation efforts in an attempt to keep up with the accelerating rate of digitalisation.
After the torrid two years the sector has endured, understandably most businesses have focused these efforts on improving online services for customers, as well as investing in ways to reduce customer touchpoints.
However, bearing in mind the ongoing staffing crisis, it’s notable that businesses are still yet to take the next step in improving their technology to make their employees' lives easier and, importantly, motivate and nurture talent. Afterall, the biggest asset of any hospitality business is its people.
The right employee training has the power to both elevate the workforce to be the best they can be, whilst also improving customer experiences – a factor that is more important than ever to today’s consumer and in boosting post-covid business.
Despite this, many businesses have remained with outdated and in-person employee training programmes which are often overlooked in digital transformation strategies. Or they’ve discounted it altogether in an effort to save costs, under the assumption that it is a costly investment on said outdated options.
Increase employee productivity
The pandemic has highlighted several inefficiencies in hospitality brands' processes. In these difficult financial times, businesses have been forced to do more with the same number of hours in the day.
With a greater reliance on data and technology to achieve this and recover, employees need the training to understand how they can use the technology businesses have invested in to become more efficient.
However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to technology solutions, and therefore businesses need tailored training programmes to upskill their workforce and help employees understand how technology can increase their productivity.
Employee wellbeing and development
Another key social change over recent years has been the need for a greater focus on employee wellbeing and development. During the early stages of the pandemic, furloughed or redundant employees, and those that just wanted to better themselves with their newly found time, turned to online learning.
This has led to a trend in people wanting to improve and take part in professional development opportunities more than ever. Employees now expect a certain level of dedication from their employer towards professional development, and businesses must meet this to retain staff.
This leaves businesses with the challenge of providing a variety of training to suit all individual employees’ aspirations and needs, at an affordable cost while they recover from the impacts of lockdown. To avoid huge expenses, businesses need to invest in one platform that can be tailored to suit all employees.
With hospitality staff working changing shift patterns and often having other responsibilities outside of work, such as university or children, employees need a flexible approach to training.
Online training platforms will help businesses provide programmes that are truly suited to their employee’s lifestyle and working requirements, giving access to modules 24/7 and control so employees to complete these whenever it best suits them.
Better staff retention rates
The hospitality industry continues to face huge challenges in retaining staff, with an average turnover rate of 30%, which is double the UK average. With these high staff turnover rates comes increased staff training costs - with little return on investment. Alongside this, the industry has been experiencing huge skills gaps.
As demand increases, and now that COVID restrictions have been removed, businesses face the challenge of replacing many of the staff they had to let go of, as well as those who decided to leave the industry during the pandemic. This will require attracting new talent to the industry and training them completely from scratch.
Training up new staff is not only costly, but it’s also incredibly time-consuming. For businesses to recover, they need to streamline this process and try to increase staff retention.
A lack of training opportunities for employees can be a huge barrier to encouraging new talent and staff retention, damaging job satisfaction.
It also gives little opportunity for staff to be rewarded, which has been proven to boost morale and drive retention. Without a training programme that encourages and allows employees to further their skills, they have no platform to better themselves or access to incentives and rewards.
Although businesses may be tempted to reduce the quality of their training to cut back on wasted investments in quick-flighting staff, this can end up costing businesses much more than just hiring costs.
Short-term employees still require proper training to reduce the number of mistakes made and to ensure that they offer a competitive service to customers.
Instead, businesses should invest in technology-driven training platforms to automate and increase the efficiency of the staff training process. With less human input needed, this will reduce the time and resources spent on training and compliance for all new employees.
Improved customer service
Today’s consumers are willing to pay more for memorable moments and the best experiences. This means hospitality businesses need to give the best customer service possible to help boost recovery.
For businesses with multiple facilities, a big part of this will be in ensuring that experiences remain on brand and to a high standard across the board. Investing in people will not only ensure consistency but will also have a knock-on effect on customer satisfaction, and ultimately, profit.
In today’s landscape, customer service is more important than ever and important for growing loyalty as businesses strive to recover. However, what’s important to customers, and the opportunity to demonstrate care is evolving.
Businesses need technology-based training programmes to enable them to flex and adapt the guidance they offer staff to meet this. For example, over the last year, drink spiking cases have been widely reported in the media and are a key concern for today’s customers.
Traditionally, this has not been widely considered as fundamental in training hospitality staff, but today businesses need to include this in training programmes to provide the best customer care.
Tailored training programmes are the key to facing the challenging staff retention rates within the industry and in boosting financial recovery. Although some training programmes may seem dauntingly expensive and inflexible, they don’t have to cost a fortune and compromise profitability to be effective and for businesses to reap the benefits.
Online learning management systems are subscription-based services, allowing businesses to train multiple employees at once and create courses and track employee learning that best suits the needs of their brand and employees.