The effects of the pandemic continue to be felt across all kinds of industries and in many different ways. One of the most pressing is a critical shortage of labor. And this is an area where hospitality has been hit particularly hard.
With the cost of losing a single employee often reaching tens of thousands of dollars, the industry urgently needs to think how to counter this trend. The bad news is there’s no silver bullet. These changes are being driven by broad societal issues and complex individual incentives that no single business can entirely control.
That said, there are a range of actions that hospitality companies can take to both manage short-term talent scarcity and rebuild for a more inclusive, diverse and equitable future. One of the most important is to understand how digital technology can enhance both the experience of the workplace and the long-term prospects of the workforce.
Smarter scheduling with automation and artificial intelligence (AI) promises real change. Predictive platforms are now able to anticipate peaks and troughs in demand far more effectively and enable businesses to match individual employees’ desired work patterns. For part-time workers (who are often women) this added control over scheduling can be transformative.
Virtual training programs to help employees returning from parental leave get up to speed more quickly, and offer programs of continuous learning to help employees advance their long-term careers within the company.
The metaverse is another potentially exciting area for the industry. Some businesses are already exploring how to use mixed reality experiences to transform corporate training and help employees learn in a more accessible, more effective, and more enjoyable way.
The above examples show how the flexibility and accessibility that tech enables can promote workforce diversity, enhance day-to-day working experiences, aid recruitment, and support retention. This is all the more important as the industry looks to rebound from the pandemic and capitalize on the pent-up demand for travel and hospitality services that’s undoubtedly out there.
In the end, it’s about recognizing that hospitality has both commercial and moral incentives here. Opening up the business to a more diverse wave of talent is a way to mitigate the impact of widespread labor shortages, while also making the workplace more inclusive and more attractive for potential recruits. It’s both the smart and the right thing to do.
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