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  • Writer's pictureStephan Busch

Human Resources in hospitality! Are we all nuts? Or lost?

Ideas to solve the labour problem

in hospitality are seemingly getting weirder or more desperate.

CEO’s of big chains demand more migrants to fill low ( = really bad) paying positions. England wants to introduce new regulations for migration of only skilled labour. Some in the industry suggested that we also should consider more people with disabilities, people released from prison for a second chance and all kind of poor people from unemployed mothers to elderly who want to earn a little so they don’t have to search for empties in garbage cans like in Germany ( 1.5 Million elderly under the minimum) - in Germany an absolutely normal, daily sight. Just to fill all low paid positions in hospitality. That’s the way to go! Self service and grap and go are other genius idea to offer more service. We must be nuts!

Are you all nuts?

Lets think about it.

The shout from CEO’s for more migrants is an arrogant shout for more cheap labour! They even wont higher them themselves but leave it for outsourced companies who can easier pay under the minimum wage. They are still not ready to invest in people – just to use them. The reputation of hospitality as an employer will be further damaged.

Skilled labour? What's that?

England’s shout for only skilled workers visa should really scare the irresponsible hotel owners and management companies all over Europe and America. For decades they managed to remove all skilled workers and replace them with part timers, migrants ( who would be good if offered training and education – which wasn’t) and by passing any disturbing union by only hiring no skills – no education – no union - but cheap! Good luck to you – and don’t complain please about your short term profit thinking.

People with disabilities?

I remember that we always had them in the past in hospitality and took care of them. And believe me – they took care of us too and added value to every company I ever worked in. The one with walking disability has still a beautiful mind and will be happy to serve and be thankful. Working together with them the others will learn what is possible with limitation, will learn respect and be more humble – something I am missing most in this world. But then came the young GM or F&B and looked at us and said:” You are not serious. We need healthy people , young strong, reflecting the image of our company. Ever heard of the healthy Barmen movement in America? No kills needed but looking like a bull? Of course not!”. We were forced to hide them, get rid of them, demotivate them so they would leave. We felt bad but were too stupid to look into the future either. Most properly it would anyway have cost us the job. Shame on us.

Staff with criminal background? No way!

Believe me – we always had them in the past – and most of them were great team members , staff and contributors to the companies success. Like a Mantra we read about this entrepreneur advise to learn from the past but only to look in the future. And in daily life we ignore this totally. But then cam the young GM, F&B and the new hip management company … you know the rest of the story!

I worked with – and hired a lot – of people with a prior conviction or who served jail sentences before. The key is that you as a hotelier and your HR are absolutely discreet. That’s what our guest expect too, right? This people want a new chance – so leave the past behind. I had once a CEO who told me about one employee:” He served a criminal sentence but we need staff”. Great. The worst introduction you can give to someone who wants to start new. I hired once a guy as dishwasher who just served three years for Credit card fraud. Well – first a long sentence and then no profit put aside as he started as dishwasher. After four years he was promoted to Restaurant Manager. On that years annual staff party with more then 500 staff we found one quiet moment to talk. He ask me:” You know that I was convicted and jailed before?” I nodded. “And you made all this possible for me?” I honestly told him: “I didn’t make anything possible for you. You did. Yes I kept a closer eye on you in the first month but that was it. Who am I to judge you? Of course you are responsible to protect your staff and guest but here you have to follow your gut feeling.

Elderly? What do they have to offer?

When I started in hotel business it was the older ones we learned from. They had experience, skills, knowledge, techniques and had seen it all in hotel business. Like you wouldn’t expect or respect a teacher in school who is the same age like you with the same amount of knowledge. But that’s where we ended up in hospitality. Young people only, part timers or outsourced even better, promoted fast without knowledge. Now the elderly, experienced ones who have to offer it all sit at home, limited income and we hire people with limited income to teach others something they don’t know about. The elderly take care of our development – we should take care of the elderly and see their value. And I don’t mean the politicians who want us to retire later as they only follow industry instruction to provide cheaper labour longer as they mismanaged the pension funds and have to cover that up. Its true that the ones who want us to work until 70 do not hire us once we are 50 because we are considered too old. Its time to bring value back which will result in profits. Not profits without value.

Author: Stephan Busch, Academic Director at the State University for the Humanities Moscow RGGU, Faculty of Tourism & Hospitality earned his Master Certificate in Hospitality Management from Cornell University, USA. He has a diverse experience in launching operations, business development and service training- for hotel and cruise companies in Asia, Europe, Canada and Russia.,

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