The hotel industry in Australia is worth $14 billion with a workforce of 380,000 employees working across 6807 hotels. With the rapid hospitality expansions and high labour turnover in hospitality, there is a skills shortage of 123,000 hospitality skilled workers needed by 2020.
The hospitality workforce comprises of predominantly young workers where 43% of the hospitality workforce is aged between 15 Ð 24. However, attracting prospective employees in hospitality has been problematic in Australia. The Australia Department of Employment Survey reported a 28% vacancy rate among hospitality employers in trying to fill vacancies in their hospitality companies.
A young workforce that is emerging in hospitality is the Generation Z (born between 1995 to 2009) that recruiters know little about. In the mainstream media, they have positioned differently from their previous generation Y cohort. Generation Z are highly familiar and dependent on technology, confident, hardworking, embrace team work, seek happiness at work, and expect to move up quickly in their career.
So why are recruiters finding it difficult to attract Generation Z to work in hospitality?
After more than three decades of research, the reality is that the harsh working conditions of the hotel industry is still prevalent and stigmatised by perennial issues of low pay, long working hours, and physical demanding work.
Recent research has found that dealing with people, workplace health and safety, and pressure to perform are key barriers that Generation Z worry about when deciding to work in the hospitality industry. This implies the possibility of the fear of working in a team environment where tensions add to the stress of having to deal with people internally. Interpersonal employee tensions if not resolved effectively can result in job dissatisfaction and turnover.
Generation Z are concerned with their ability to perform on the job and deal with customers in a live environment. Interestingly, this is different from how the mainstream media has portrayed Generation Z as one with self-confidence. One possible explanation is that Generation Z are impatient career climbers who are willing to work hard but may lack specific skills required at the workplace.
The thought of potential discrimination was another perceived entry barrier by Generation Z. One of the interviewed respondent mentioned ÒI am afraid that I would be bullied given my minority ethnic backgroundÓ.
How can hotel recruiters help remove preconceived barriers?
With regards to overcoming barriers, it is recommended that hospitality recruiters portray the reality of dealing with customers, which is the core business element of the hospitality industry. Hospitality companies must be more open and provide more information on how they provide training to interact with customers.
For example, the ACCOR Hotel group developed a training package called ÒPeopleologyÓ for all ACCOR employees on providing excellent service quality and managing customers. In addition, this can address the perceived difficulty of emotional labour that Generation Z employees are concerned about if they knew more about support training and strategies hospitality companies have in place to manage emotional burnout.
The offering of training in hotels can provide more clarity on their job roles to reduce job ambiguity, which reduces turnover. Hospitality companies can provide Òopen daysÓ for hospitality students and prospective employees to get to know the business better and increase confidence about their decision to embark on a hospitality career. This will also alleviate the concern of Generation Z about potential workplace health and safety issues when they get to see the tangible working environment conditions of the property.
Even though the issue of low pay was not seen as a negative attitude, hotels must be realistic about pay and ensure that minimum wages are paid according to the Hospitality Industry General Award 2010 (Australia Fairwork, 2017) at the very least to remain competitive. Although most hospitality companies do not disclose the salary package and increment policy, this will be useful information to attract Generation Z in joining the hospitality industry.
The issue of perceived discrimination must be addressed especially given the multicultural diverse hospitality workforce. This can be addressed by portraying a diverse workforce with the use of multicultural personnel in their corporate brochures and career expo booths.
It is important to note that the hospitality workforce is experiencing a Òperfect stormÓ where older workers from the Baby-Boomers and Generation X are exiting the industry and there will be a stronger reliance on younger hospitality workforce such as the Generation Z. As the recruitment battles intensify for share of young hospitality talent, hospitality recruiters must ask themselves the question ÒWhat do Generation Z wants in a hospitality career?Ó. For more information, please read the full article on:Ê https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278431917308113
About the authors
Dr. Edmund Goh is Senior Lecturer in Hospitality Management at Edith Cowan University. Previously, he was the Head of School at Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School, Torrens University Australia. He has published extensively in the area of hospitality management such as workforce issues, teaching pedagogy, employee theft, rational decision making, and customer satisfaction. He is currently the Secretary and sits on the Board of Directors for The Council for Australasian Tourism and Hospitality Education.
Cindy Lee is Lecturer in Hospitality Management at Blue Mountains International Hotel Management School, Torrens University Australia. Her recent work is in Generation hospitality research and Selfie tourism. She has a strong passion for learning and is completing her doctoral studies in the area of tourism behaviour through the digital lens.