Nichola Daly is a high-end hospitality recruitment professional and recently named Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality who heads up Daly Recruitment, which pairs candidates with some of the most renowned hospitality roles offered in Ireland.
This article was originally published in the Spring 2023 issue of Hospitality Ireland Magazine, in March of 2023.
Around this time three years ago, Ireland’s hospitality sector came to a grinding halt, just before St Patrick’s Day. With the global spotlight on our country’s warm welcomes, showstopping attractions, and craic agus ceol, our pubs went quiet, hotel beds lay empty, landmarks went unvisited, and pints were left unpoured. For those working within the hospitality sector, that week was traumatising – not only for its economic impact, but also for the symbolic impact of Ireland’s constant and growing tourism and hospitality offering simply disappearing. We take so much pride in our ability to make all visitors feel welcome, and this part of our identity was stripped from us while we all shifted our focus on stopping the spread of Covid-19.
As we emerged from the throes of the pandemic, the sector faced its next challenge – staff shortages – and in late 2022, we witnessed a huge increase in candidates seeking new opportunities, citing poor workplace culture and not feeling valued as the primary reasons for exiting their roles. Having spent nearly three decades of my life working in the hospitality sector, with the latter years focused on recruitment for luxury hotels and events, it has become imperative, to me, that if we get the culture and working hours right, our industry will progress and our globally renowned hospitality industry will thrive.
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Now that we are out the other side of the ‘staffing panic’ and our industry continues to rebuild, post-pandemic, this year we need to focus on rebuilding the appeal of the industry by fostering the correct staff culture and improving working conditions. In order to maintain the world-class professionalism with which a global audience regards our industry, its workers, in turn, must also be treated with and encouraged to pursue the highest level of professionalism, to facilitate life-long careers in the industry. The days of excessive night and weekend hours without equal compensation are well in our past, with many more hospitality workers seeking a better work-life balance and a variety of shifts.
There is a misconception that young people simply do not want to work in hospitality – or at all. I have experienced first-hand that this is not true, and I have witnessed the value that young people can bring to a company’s culture and overall offering. Day to day, I am noticing that candidates are increasingly more selective about the companies with which they work, and young people, especially, are showing a greater interest in moving beyond a job and developing a career – which is such a positive for the industry that we must act on it! To ensure that young people feel encouraged to choose hospitality as their career path, the culture, pay, and work-life balance on offer need to align with what these candidates demand.
Especially in the South of Ireland, where the ongoing housing crisis continues to drive young people away from our big cities and back to their hometowns or other rural areas, an immense opportunity exists for some of Ireland’s leading rural attractions and accommodation, as the seeds of hospitality professionals planted in big-city venues can bloom into lifelong careers if fostered by employers with strong ethics and cultural alignment between their businesses and their candidates. By building positive, people-centred cultures, exploring new ways of scheduling, to allow for a work-life balance, and broadening hiring practices – to ensure diverse, inclusive and engaged workplaces – hospitality employers will attract young career-driven candidates, but in an economy with more jobs available than candidates, it will be up to hospitality employers to comply with the younger generation’s criteria for what makes a job appealing in order to fill their roles.
An employer’s ability to attract and retain team members will have a major overall impact on his/her business – and the wider sector – for the years ahead. I believe that everyone should operate under the premise that everyone who comes through their doors is either a potential employee or a potential customer – and they should be treated that way. This doesn’t mean that employers have to offer lavish perks or extortionate pay packages, but if they wish to attract professionals, their businesses will need to act in a professional manner with both current and prospective employees, making it clear that they will be appreciated and valued. As younger generations enter the workforce and those who pivoted careers during the pandemic return to hospitality, expectations of what makes a good employer will continue to change.
Daly Recruitment offers a relationship-driven, guided approach to matching the right candidates with the best hospitality employers across the UK and Ireland, working in close collaboration with employers and candidates alike. For more information on Daly Recruitment, visit https://dalyrecruitment.com/.
Read More: Hospitality Ireland Spring 2023: Read The Latest Issue Online!