Challenges In Recruiting: Hospitality Industry

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Today, in the world of growing in globalised businesses and the improvement of entertainment industries. Transportations, Accommodations, Venues, Dining and Talents are now in great demand.

In the industries of people serving people, it is one of the most excitement sectors that you can best understand a business model, because it was combined with many different sectors and generated with smaller scale of many operators to build up a big organization that were full of services provided, which named Hospitality!

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The Hospitality industry is currently largest businesses among the world, it is also a global, interlocking with deep and complex of supply chain. Today in the record, hospitality industry provides more than 200 million employees in worldwide and the numbers of talents are still growing rapidly and it is in a demand today.

In Singapore, the Hospitality industry remains a key economic driver and Singapore is promoting and building the image and reputation. It is also an essential support in the industry for Singapore’s efforts to constantly remain an attractive lifestyle destination, with the development of the two integrated resorts (Resort World and Marina Bay Sands) and other exciting events and projects such as the making Orchard Road into one of the best shopping town in the world of Asia.

With the positive outlook for this growing industry, it is important for Singapore to continue improving its service competiveness by enhancing excellence service delivery and clients’ satisfaction. The industry needs professionals and talents who would continue to upgrade and improve the industries skills to take up management positions as well as new recruiting team who would be well-qualified to fill the additional jobs created with the growth.

The Recruitment in Hospitality Industry

Having the ambitions and foreseeing the industry in expanding fast, that was what most of the hospitality management are aiming for. With the business constantly growing, the responsibility of the Human Resources team is expected to deliver additional workforce at all sectors and business levels. Furthermore, Human Resources will also be maximizing the capacity of each current workforce team.

In Asia, hotelier used skills and techniques to analyze each individual’s performance, engagement and commitment levels, participation or getting involved in all training and development programs to measure the result in productivity. Linking such ways to determine each organization’s business objectives has provides useful statistics and has been proven highly effective with which senior executive management making the decision.

Human Resources roles is important in the industry, as the blooming in this industry, human resources team needs to focus on their staffing and employees, the roles as service provider in each departments and divisions. With the high demand needed in increasing staffing numbers, looking at this time when the industry’s workforce labor pool is shrinking.

To improve this challenges, first is to identify all possible causes to the challenges and the industry needs to attempt and work with the unions as allies, hopefully to come out with more time, more effective workforce strategies and money to improve the recruitment project and training to educate the politicians so as to impact the governmental economic and immigration policy on the hospitality industry.

The research from Hospitality industry information, I learned that the set of workforce solutions is based on the following priorities such as:

Image : Like other service sectors, hospitality careers are often stereotyped as low-wage and entry-level with little opportunity for advancement. Consequently, qualified workers, especially youth, are unaware the range of hospitality careers available.

Recruitment : Historically the hospitality industry had drawn heavily fm the youth labor pool to meet their workforce needs, but in recent the industry has been left with an insufficient pipeline of new workers to satisfy demand. Faced with a shrinking pipeline or workers, the hospitality industry is increasing its recruitment efforts towards youth and developing targeted strategies for previously untapped labor pools.

Retention : High turnover is a key challenge in the hospitality industry. The restaurant, hotel and lodging sectors have difficulty retaining skilled workers because of the negative image that the industry faces.

Language skills : English proficiency is a key challenge because a large percentage of the hospitality workforce does not speak English as their primary language. Employers seek language training programs that allow workers to effectively perform their job, which includes providing good customer service and understanding safety requirements.

Employability/Soft Skills : Employers have difficulty finding workers who possess basic “soft skills,” which are often a prerequisite for success in a customer service-oriented field.

Consistent training models and skills certifications : The hospitality industry as a whole lacks consistency and portability in their training models and skill certifications. Many employers run their own internal training programs for entry-level workers, which makes it difficult to monitor the content of training and the skills acquired.

Doleta, June 2005

Challenges in Singapore’s Hospitality

The numbers of turnover and shortage rates were frequently highlighted in today’s challenges for Hospitality Industry not only happening in Singapore but globally. It is important to know and understand the issues behind that causes the skills shortage in the workforce.

In today’s Hospitality workforce, it is expected for all organizations to face a similar shortage of available talent at all levels, especially in management and leadership roles in order to continuously leading the operations and teams, mostly it was due to the aggressive expansion strategies in the region. With the high demand and shortage of employees in the hospitality industry it translates into intense competition for many quality graduates. For those fresh graduates deem the unsociable hours and perceived lack of experience and opportunity in the hospitality industry were as unfavorable. Therefore the hospitality industry is losing out to industries such as entrepreneur, human resources, outsourcing or even information technology etc.

Furthermore, there is also growing awareness of an increasing of multi-generational workforce and consequently variances in expectations and values among individuals. Priorities differ especially with the younger generation, the so-called ‘Generation Y’. Markedly different from their senior counterparts, the young place greater emphasis on self-actualization, high expectations of rapid career progression and are willing to change jobs, industries and careers to realize their goal.

Accordingly, methods for employee engagement analysis need to be even more sophisticated. Long term outlooks enable Human Resource managers to predict and plan for specific areas of talent shortfall and to adopt management training programs to prepare for the demands of future growth.

Next to think, which are the areas of shortage talents in Hospitality Industries that were affected? As hospitality was combined with many different sectors and generated with smaller scale of many operators to build up a whole organization, below are the listed out sectors and areas in the hospitality industries.

Front Line operations, talents that have face to face contacts with guest and to handle various general enquires, needs, transaction, dining or organized events and function in the hotels. Beside that, talents also need to have the knowledge of hotel’s facilities and services, guest relation and expectation, tourism-related matter and of cause handling guest arrivals and departures too.

Front Office

Front Desk, Concierge, Cashier, Bell Counter, Butler, Guest Relation Officer, Executive Club and Business Centre. Both Guest Service Centre (Operator) and Housekeeping are the two back end departments that direct support for Front Office.

Food and Beverage

Dining Outlets and Café, Banquet, Bar and Lounges, Executive Lounge and Kitchens. For both F&B Reservation Centre & Stewarding they are also under the umbrella of Food & Beverages Division.

Beside the listed sectors, there is also some other back of house Operations that covers the supporting roles to the business.

Human Resources Department, Maintenance and Engineering Department, Events and Sales Department, Marketing & Public Relations Department, Accounting and Finance Department, Purchasing Department, Security Department and etc.

There are so many sectors of division in a hotel, and which are the areas that are really affected and in demand in the industries? Eventually, the shortage came from the Front Line team (both Front office and Food & Beverage). And why is there a shortage?

Below is a article researched from Khaleej Times Online on Manpower shortage biggest challenge to hospitality industry by Zoe Sinclair (Staff Reporter) 4 May 2008

MENA Travel Awards organizer CHA International President Dr Sam Saker estimated staff needs at an average ratio of five staff to one room.

This ratio puts staff needs at more than 50,000 people by 2010 and by 2016 a further 150,000 staff would be needed, he observed.

He, however said that the ratio of staff per room in luxury hotels was likely closer to seven to one. Compounding this is the issue of manpower retention. According to estimates, 20 per cent of staff will stay with their current employer and industry management predicts poaching to dominate staff recruitment.

A report by world hospitality recruitment website was launched and surveyed more than 3,000 hospitality professionals across the Asia.

It estimated only 10 per cent of staff would look for career opportunities within their current property.

‘The challenge is to match growth with talent so service levels are maintained. At the same time retaining that talent within the hospitality industry via training and career progression opportunities is essential,’ said Peter Willis, Sales Manager,

‘Hotels must look at what they offer to candidates in terms of salary, benefits, and accommodation in an increasingly competitive landscape, otherwise, the strain on the sector will begin or already beginning to slow down.’

Today, as I am in the sectors of Human Resources Industries, in my company, we did many recruitment campaigns for different industries and mainly for Singaporeans, I realized that Hospitality Industries have been highly active and continuously in hiring. Talking to many Hotels’ Human Resource Officers, they mentions that in today’s employment in the hotel, they can hardly find a replacement or new hire of Singaporean to do the job, the turnovers especially in the front line operations are extremely high and fast. The staffs that are currently supporting the roles are mainly foreigners from Malaysia, China, Vietnam and the numbers of Filipinos are increasing in these industries, only small percentages of Singaporean can be found in today’s front line operations.

Questing where has the Singaporean gone to? I recently did a few career fairs for the fresh graduates in different Polytechnics and we are mainly recruiting for Hospitality Industries. The responses are slow, and I took the opportunity and created a simple survey form for the students in the collage, allowing us to better understand the student’s future choice of careers.

Students are required to tick the industries and the preferred working hours that they are keen in perusing in the future. And the collective of results and industries are shown below: (A sample of the survey form is attached under appendix)

Job Specialization

Looking at the results from the survey, I learned that Hospitality Industries only stands a small percentage of 1.9% out of 3,000 students, of cause 3,000 students is only the 21.4% out of estimated 14,000 graduating Polytechnic students annually.

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In the survey, I also added on with the preferred working hours for their job, I realized that today’s students preferred to be off duties during weekends and public holidays as it standing at 45.1%, it is almost half the percentage from the survey, next highest preferred working hours are from 9 to 6pm office hour’s job, which is standing at 43%.

Now, looking at the hospitality industries, most likely is it not possible to have a fixed off days during the weekends, and front line hoteliers are scheduled for shift work like (Morning/ Afternoon/ Midnight shift) – starting from 7am to 5pm, 3pm to 1 am and 11pm to 9am or even a split shift from 10am to 3pm and back to operation again from 6pm to 11pm.

Understanding the hotel’s operation hours, hotels operates 24 hours business, the hoteliers are required to work minimum 198 hours per month (excluding the over time hours) it is about 9 hours per day and 2 days off per week. And very often, hoteliers are expected to do over time after their scheduled timing, especially during the peak period. The overtime hours, can be 2 hours extra or at times, hoteliers have to be prepared to cover the next shift, usually to cover the absentee or last minute shortage to manpower, which can be another 7 to 8 hours more.

Although hoteliers are entitled for 2 days off, but it comes during the weekdays, weekends off only come after the rotation within the team. The busier and peak period in hospitality industries business are during the festive seasons or public holidays, long weekends, school holidays and during the big functions or events happening in Singapore.

Hotel’s Standards Yearly schedule are shown below –

(Peak Period, Events & Festive Season)

In January : New Year’s Day

In February : Asia Aerospace and Chinese New Year

In March : 1 week School Holiday

In April : Good Friday, Easter day and events of World Gourmet Summit

In May : Labor day and Vesak day

In June : 3 weeks of School Holidays

In July : Slow Period

In August : Slow Period (Chinese Ghost Festival), Singapore National Day

In September : 1 week school holiday, Hari Raya Puasa and event of Formula 1

In October : Slow Period

In November : Deepavali and Hari Raya Haji

In December : 1 month of School holiday, Christmas Day and the celebration and countdown of New Year’s Day

Hoteliers besides handling the activities within the country, their main objective is to operate services to Tourist and Guest from Business trip which will happen every 365 days.

Looking at the above surveys and studies of employment for front line hoteliers in Hospitality Industry, I learned that although the environment and atmosphere is a glamorous one. However, looking that living of Singaporean today, I understand why there is a shortage of local’s talents.

I believed that many of the local’s family members or friends are mostly working in the above stated industries, which are the standard office hours from 9am to 6pm operation. Because that is the most preferred working hours that Singaporean can balance their time for work, children, family members and social.

Before, I am also an hotelier, as I do not have any commitment to my family members and I needed a stepping stone for my next step into my career, I chosen hospitality industries. My experience during those 5 years of journey in hospitality industry is the most enjoyable and valuable one. Although, I have missed out many of the fun moment with my family members and friends especially during their weekends and festive sessions, because most of the time, when I am off during the weekdays, they were all working or schooling. And when they are off during the weekends or festive session, there I am working. It is hard for us to spend time together. That is why I can understand why Singaporean has chosen other industries then Hotel industry.

The only main focus for a Singaporean to choose hospitality industry as their professional career, they must be someone that has the PASSION in serving and meeting different various people around the world, because the local has to sacrifice the times with the family members and the love ones. And only people that accepted and understand this service industry will be happy and enjoying working in this sectors. This is also why you can find more foreigners working in hospitality industry because some of them actually paid to come over Singapore to work, with the nature of long working hours in this industry, they have less commitment here then a Singaporean, that is why there are willing to work for a longer hours then any Singaporean.

Working in hospitality industry, everyday, every moment you see smiles smiling at you, you see people servicing people and at the end of the day, the satisfaction is there, and that is what makes the hoteliers enjoying working in the industry.

Succession planning was identified as a key contributor to strategic growth and for the continuation of high quality standards for customer service levels. Employees with a high potential for promotion are monitored, especially in regard to their participation in training and development, which has been determined to be a key indicator of success in upward progression.

The measurement of leadership skills was the subject of intense debate and most organizations are investing in developing these metrics, for early identification of leaders with potential.

Maintaining contact with previous and potential employees has become standard practice among the hoteliers. New approaches to communication, such as blogs, online social networking groups, electronic newsletters and bulletin boards are widely used to maintain contact and remain abreast of this group of potential employees concerns and ideas.

Department of Labor’s employment and training administration is supporting comprehensive partnerships that include employers, the public workforce system, and other entities that have developed innovative approaches that address the workforce needs of business while also effective helping worker find good jobs with good and attractive wages and promising career pathways in the hospitality industry.

In my essay 2, I will be writing about the retention challenges in hospitality industry and I will also provide some positive and effective ideas to improve the matters.

Reference List

Doleta Gov; June 2005, Hospitality Industry Information.

Available at: .cfm

[Accessed 20 April 2010]

Warren. Bennis, Ph.D. On Becoming a Leader

Forbes top 100; 9 January 2006, Merkel World’s Most Powerful Woman. Available at:,1518,434696,00.html [Accessed 29 November 2009]

Squidoo; 2006. Angela Merkel – the first female chancellor of Germany. Available at: [Accessed 29 November 2009]

Tatiana. Serafin. 9 January 2006; The most powerful woman in the world. Available at: [Accessed 29 November 2009]

Travel China Guide; Empress Wu Zetian. Available at: [Accessed 9 November 2009]

Biographies; 1996 to 2009. Female Heroes of Asia: China. Available at: [Accessed 9 November 2009]

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