Hitesh (HP) Patel
AAHOA Chairman (2018-2019)
When hoteliers consider the best way to get maximum return on investment, they often focus on guest-orientated initiatives such as property renovations, incorporating new technology, and offering on-site restaurants and cafés. As important as all of these assets are, hoteliers also need to take into account their greatest asset: employees. They are at the front line of all guest service, maintenance, and behind the scenes management. Investing in them leads to greater long-term gains such as engaged employees who want to move up within the business and not having high rotation in and out of certain positions, which can cost money and disrupt daily operations.
The workforce shortage, however, makes this hard to accomplish. A recent survey conducted by AAHOA found that nearly 15 percent of jobs in the hotel industry remain vacant. With the unemployment rate at a historic low, it is difficult for employers to find skilled workers to fill empty positions. To combat this trend, small businesses must find ways to draw in the job-seekers that are qualified and eager to be part of a team. The most obvious way to do this is by increasing compensation. But this does not always have to mean giving higher wages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 32 percent of total compensation now comes in the form of employee benefits.
Employers can offer their employees a host of different benefit options that will make them want to come, and stay, on board. This can be anything from paid leave for new parents to increased vacation time or more flexible work schedules. All employees are different, so offering a range of benefits can personalize benefit packages and appeal to more applicants.
One specific benefit that is always highly sought after is health insurance. In many cases, small businesses have been unable to afford health coverage for their employees, but the recent expansion in association health plans has made them more accessible and affordable. AAHOA recently partnered with the National Restaurant Association to offer our members top-notch health insurance through United Healthcare. Members who decide to participate will be able to choose from over 120 health benefit plans to find one that best fits the needs of their business. Employers will also be able to give out pharmacy discount cards to their employees. These cards are guaranteed to give a discount on FDA approved medications on up to 75 percent of the cost and most importantly, are reusable. Perks like this can set your business apart from the rest in your area and bring more talent into your hotel.
Look at your employee retention rates to see if you are doing enough to be a competitive employer. Considering most employees in management positions started out in entry level jobs within the industry, it is important to incentivize your workers with new and improved benefits to keep them in your business. All employees have the potential to be long-term team members that can be counted on to produce good work and boost the success of your business.