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Recently in my monthly newsletter to the industry, On Rizzo’s Radar, I wrote about what industry executives and managers are saying about the environment for hiring in the coming months. Hospitality Industry Leaders Forecast Hiring for the Year Ahead” got a quick and strong response from readers. Clearly, we are all feeling the pressure of finding the right talent and getting them hired. I want to share some of those responses.

Promising Trends

David Hoenemeyer, the COO at Seminole Gaming, (Davie, Florida) acknowledged that 2021 had been a challenging year for hiring in the hospitality industry and including his own properties. However, he is feeling positive about the upcoming trends.

According to Hoenemeyer, “we are extremely encouraged by recent trends whereby we have not only stemmed the flow of people leaving our company/industry but are making in-roads into filling our many open positions.” 

Hoenemeyer is right when he says that the casino gaming industry is not for the faint-hearted. I agree with him when he says that we as employers in the industry must be more realistic about the job role description, so candidates fully understand exactly what they are signing up for when accepting the job offer. 

This brings in another possibility to re-hire employees. According to David Carroll, Sr. Vice President Human Resources, at Seminole Hard Rock Support Services, LLC (Davie, Florida) says, “2022 will continue to be challenging from a hiring standpoint. We do expect more people to re-enter the workforce but not at a rate fast enough to change the current dynamic significantly. The best insurance will continue to be sound leadership. People want to work for good leaders.”

High Demand for Talent Remains Competitive

The trend of high demand for talent in our industry is nothing new. Some of the rules have changed. The offer and negotiation process has become more complex and elongated. Chris Rellinger, the Vice President of Strategic Marketing at Yaamava’ Resort & Casino (Highland, California), tends to agree. 

Rellinger wrote, “There will continue to be significantly high demand for talent with a very tight talent pool. 

Analytic and Tech jobs are increasingly hard to fill, and companies will need to come up with creative ways to close the deal. Companies will need to keep their hands on the pulse of salaries and hiring trends now more than ever, or they will quickly begin to suffer the consequences. “

To back up Chris’ claim, Cynthia Kiser-Murphey’s comment agrees. Cynthia is General Manager at The Palms Casino Resort/ San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority (Las Vegas, Nevada). She says her property has an advantage in being at the nexus of the industry.

Cynthia wrote, “Las Vegas is an ideal place for those wanting to be at the very center of the hospitality and casino gaming business and it is a growing community that offers a robust lifestyle outside of the job. Families find all that they want in quality of life.”

 “While staffing has been challenging for many, we feel confident that proactive, direct engagement in the community offers us the best opportunity to grow our talented team,” said Kiser-Murphey

Fighting the Labor Shortage in Our Industry

Employee retention has been one of the biggest nightmares hospitality employers have come across since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I am glad that some of my peers from the industry agree with my thoughts on employers finding new ways to retain hospitality staff.

Peter Arceo, Casino General Manager, Yaamava’ Resort & Casino (Highland, California)replied to my post and said, “In 2022, the hospitality sector will continue to struggle with labor shortages across many categories. More than ever, organizations and leaders will have to focus on team member engagement and help people develop their careers.” 

Peter is on the money. Many employers in our industry have been struggling to maintain their service standards. The shortage of staff and lower retention rate leaves us high and dry, especially during busy seasons. 

Bo Guidry is a known name in the hospitality industry in Florida. As the President of Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood. “The workforce is changing, and we need to change with it. Our team has to be laser-focused on retention and reducing the amount of turnover.” 

He further added that employers must try and build a rapport with employees within the first 90 days. “Make your employees feel like part of the family, i.e., your business, and they will find it hard to leave you,” said Guidry. 

It’s all about the Perks

The hospitality industry is known to offer perks to customers. However, the focus needs to include the employees and offer them fair compensation for the hard work to make our establishments shine brighter with better services.

John Elliot, CEO at Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California, shed some valuable light on how his company has been attracting top-notch candidates for any job openings in the city. His company has reassessed the compensation packages and is not offering something that makes the employees think twice before leaving the company,

John says, “Competitive wages, along with implementing work-from-home policies, allow us to take a more effective approach to recruit specialized personnel in the fields of technology, strategy, project management, and change management. We also increased the minimum wage for our non-tipped positions to $17 per hour, which will improve our ability to hire line team members in areas such as custodial, hotel operations, and food and beverage.”

Taking care of your employees can translate into an optimistic and enthusiastic workforce to maintain resiliency and focus during the pandemic. 

Stephen Judge, the Chief Operating Officer at Gibson Restaurant Group in Chicago, Illinois, wrote, “Those employers who take great care of their employees and become the employer of choice in the markets that they operate will gain market share and become stronger than they were before the pandemic.” 

The Takeaway

Key executives understand the situation on the ground and the challenges ahead. The industry’s collaborative spirit has an amazing ability to identify and solve problems. Anyone who has been in this industry for more than a few years has seen the good, the bad, and everything in between. In my own 45-plus years, the changes are monumental. The struggles are difficult. Ours is an industry of extreme ups and downs. And the rewards can be generous and satisfying.