Improving staff retention in hospitality

By Sam Thomas | 27th September 2018 | 9 min read

Staff retention is one of the biggest issues facing employers in the hospitality sector. With the shape of the workforce under threat of change from Brexit and other factors, these retention issues need addressing by industry heads.

In this blog, we’ll look at some of the key reasons staff are leaving their roles in hospitality and what can be done to stem the flow.

Why are retention levels so low?

A recent YouGov survey has identified the key reasons workers are leaving the hospitality in such high numbers, and found that poor retention in the hospitality sector was primarily the result of:

  • Low pay
  • No control over unsociable working hours
  • The idea that long-term careers weren’t available

One of the core message that came from the survey is that employees hate not knowing when they’ll be working one week to the next. This hinders their ability to plan the rest of the life – everything from social events to doctors’ appointments.

Interestingly, this was ranked as more of an issue than low wages – meaning even businesses with low budgets can make a positive impact on their staff retention rates.

This survey seems to illustrate that low wages, while an issue that can be rectified in some measure by freeing up budget elsewhere, isn’t the ultimate cause for staff attrition.

Beyond the lack of control over working hours, another cause for moving professions was the perception that there were no long-term careers available for employees. This is in spite of the fact that many employers pride themselves in offering opportunities and training for those who want it.

How can you improve retention?

Employee engagement is key to improving staff retention levels. The best performing employees tend to be the most ambitious, so it is important that they are presented with opportunities to progress within your organisation.

If your business structure doesn’t have enough room for individuals to progress in the form of regular promotions, consider diversifying career paths horizontally with internal recruitment for different job roles. Introducing new skills means that, when vertical promotions arrive, employees have wider skills sets.

In whatever form they take, internal recruitment and development programmes are a great way to evolve employee skills and knowledge and, in turn, encourage employees to stay.

As covered above, flexible and transparent working hours can improve job satisfaction and retention. For the best engagement and retention rates, transparency should be extended to other parts of the business too. By offering a clear insight into how the business is performing and how each employee fits into the continued success and improvement of the business, you can improve their personal relationship with your business and their job and improve engagement as a result.

Ultimately, key to retaining your staff is ensuring you communicate with them and ensure they have a chance to discuss any issues they feel like they’re facing. If you don’t already, try giving employees a chance to speak anonymously – such as through a suggestion box. This will encourage them to speak more honestly than they may feel able to in a face-to-face scenario.

How outsourcing payroll fits into the equation

Freeing up the time to take on these staff retention programmes can be difficult, which is why many business look at outsourcing to alleviate the time and strategic burden such a complex payroll places on them. IRIS alone caters for over 1,000 companies with employees ranging from 1 to 10,000.

When the weekly and monthly payrolls are run without any time dedication need from yourself, you have the time available to focus on revenue and retention-based projects.

Outsourcing can also be a financial help to businesses in the hospitality sector. UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls has gone on record saying that payroll is the largest turnover cost in the industry, at almost 28% of turnover.

By handing this over to a team of experts, you’re condensing this turnover into a much smaller and affordable payment that includes everything from payroll processing, stationery and tax filing. And with your budget less restricted, you’ll be able to offer more opportunities in training and development for employees and therefore further reduce your existing recruitment costs.

To learn more about payroll outsourcing and whether it’s right for you, take a look at this free dedicated eBook for outsourcing in the payroll industry: