Attracting and Retaining Tomorrow’s Top Talent - RTO 9

Attracting and Retaining Tomorrow’s Top Talent

If you are a business owner, particularly in the tourism and hospitality sector, the struggle to find employees as we move through the reopening stages is incredibly challenging. How is it that we can tell the right story to attract the right people and seamlessly bring them on to our teams? And when they arrive, what can we do to keep everyone engaged and productive? Yesterday’s best practices aren’t necessarily ‘best’ today and how we tell our story to attract and keep top talent must change.

We met with workplace and talent expert Eric Termuende and Kingston’s Sean Billing of the Frontenac Club to discuss workforce struggles, new insights, and research to build incredible places to work both today and into the future. From what the next generation of work is looking for to future workplace trends, these insights will help you prepare for an exciting and unpredictable 2022 and beyond.

Eric is the co-founder of NoWof Work, author of the bestselling book Rethink Work, and global keynote speaker. A former World Economic Forum Global Shaper and recognized as one of the Top 100 Emerging Innovators under 35 by American Express, his ideas have been featured in Forbes, Thrive Global, The Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, and many more. Having been on hundreds of stages and worked with and studied the greatest places to work in the world he knows what it takes to build incredible teams that are resilient, innovative, and ready for the future of work.

Sean brings a wealth of hospitality, accommodation, and tourism experiences with him, having held corporate, regional, and senior property positions during his 26-year career. Sean’s path has seen him lead in resort areas around the globe, including the Canadian Rockies, East Africa, the United States, and Central Ontario.

Eric: “What are you seeing right now in the industry that both excites you and both concerns, you, with respect to this talent conversation, and attracting and retaining top talent?”

Sean: “So what excites me right now as I think we’ve got an opportunity to retell our story to speak, to speak to potential job seekers about what our industry brings to the table and what skills they can develop within our industry.

I’m a firm believer, just based on the number of people that I stay in contact with, who built their career and hospitality, and then turn those skills into something else, that we’ve got a real story to tell. I’m excited about that. Any disruption like we’ve just gone through creates an opportunity for us as well. So there’s an opportunity right now, as we retool, and get busier and busier, to bring new talent into our organizations. The struggle, of course, is where’s that’s talent going to come from? And how attractive is our industry going to appear right now after having gone through a series of layoffs?

And after having, displaced a lot of people in a pretty short period of time, I’m generally excited about the opportunity. I think every disruption creates a bit of a renaissance. Employers, we have the opportunity to redefine what working in the tourism and hospitality industry can look like.”

Eric: “How has the industry sort of evolved through the last 16 or 18 months? You said sort of new hospitality industry is emerging. What does that look like? And how has that changed over the last couple of years?”

Sean: “If we go back to 24 months, we had a talent shortage that we were feeling. We were still struggling to find positions, particularly frontline people, that we then went into, this massive disruption, and in many cases, we weren’t able to hang onto the good people that we had. In some cases, we were able to. And certainly, those businesses that were able to take advantage of government support probably felt a little bit better than those like-minded it couldn’t. But I think it, it’s probably coming out the other side, we can see what talent looks like. More clearly, we can see how productive organizations can be. Many operators, probably were in the trenches and probably can think about now more clearly than they could have two years ago. What the job actually entails and what skills and abilities you actually need, so I think there’s a real opportunity there.”

Sean: “What do you think is happening from a macro level as it relates to our sector or as it relates to work in general?”

Eric: This talent opportunity is shared by industries all across the nation. Achievers Workforce Institute right now is saying that 52% of people across the country and into the United States now are interested in or looking for a new job. We’re seeing about a 50% increase in the number of people who are turning over from last year. I think there are multiple factors, I think people stuck around, maybe longer than they would have, or would have liked to. We’re seeing people move at, record numbers, interestingly enough, though we’re calling this or researchers are calling this the great resignation. I don’t like that term, because it implies that people are just leaving their resigning, and not an active part of the workforce. I would rather rephrase it, the Great Reconfiguration, in the sense that I think COVID, in many ways, was a catalyst to what the future of work will be.

The future of work is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed. When I look at the future of work, it’s actually less about the jobs or the tasks. It’s more about the lifestyle and the workplace experience. I would say that in 2011, people moved their lives for their job. Now, people are moving their jobs for their lifestyle. And I think that, over the past 18 months, we’ve seen priorities shift. We’ve seen new skills, new talents, emerge. We’ve seen that new priorities have been heightened and increased in importance and the companies that are doing the best right now or even the operators that are doing the best right now and attracting and retaining talent.

Sean: “What are great companies doing to sort of battle this great resignation or this great reconfiguration?”

We don’t sign up for jobs anymore. Let’s be very clear. We sign up for a lifestyle. The job becomes the vehicle that we use to drive through this lifestyle. When we can proactively create a great workplace, the more proactive we can be in creating that environment of safety –  Psychological safety, which is the ability to present your full self.

It’s the companies that are creating the sense of psychological safety, of belonging, of camaraderie, of community that are now able to leverage this experience and the positivity and the great environment. They have to attract more people that want this similar experience. If we want to start to attract the best talent, we have to be more proactive in creating a great place for the people that are already there. They can be our greatest advocates, our best recruiters, and ultimately source the best talent.

What’s to say, that we don’t showcase their story, maybe on our social media page, or maybe through a little blog post, or maybe give them something to share on their social media, or whatever it might be. I found that when we can start to showcase the people who are already doing great work, not only does it reinforce the great work that they do, not only does it help them repeat the great actions that have happened. But it also gives their network a bit of a peek behind the curtain as to what’s happening in the organization, how these individuals are treated, and how they’re part of a better team and how they’re trusted and respected and appreciated, and that maybe they could be two. 

In all the work that I’ve done surveying these organizations and interviewing these leaders, we talk about connection, and there’s something that’s really stood out to me. And it’s the fastest way to speed up human connection is actually to slow down. There are no shortcuts, there are no fast lanes in this. The end actually is a long way, because, if we keep trying to take shortcuts will never actually get to where we wanna go. When teams are able to experiment, and try new things, engagement, and motivation, go up by about 40%.

We’re seeing the rise of entrepreneurs and startups. We’re seeing the rise of remote work. We’re seeing the rise of the freelancer who isn’t necessarily creating their own company, but now is on websites like Upwork and Freelancer and doing all sorts of design in consultation and maybe even some engineering work all from the bedroom in their house. They’re doing quite well, and they’re able to live a more flexible environment in a flexible lifestyle.

We’re also seeing the priorities have changed in the last couple of months. We’re seeing that people want to spend more time with their families. We’re seeing that, life is a little bit more fragile than perhaps we thought that it might have been.

All of these things are shaping the working world. I would also say that immigration in Canada is down. So we’ve got a job shortage in that sense. We’re seeing that attrition in the workplace is up, we’re seeing more baby boomers retiring than ever before, especially now that the pandemic would like to thank is on its final legs. So there’s a structural change in the employee market.”

COVID has helped bring some very key aspects of employment that maybe were not top of mind before – Psychological Safety, Belonging, community, camaraderie. It is vital that you engage in a positive way with your team! If you are looking for more inspiration, we would encourage you to look for a copy of Eric’s book Rethink Work.