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Graduate recruitment

Retail, Travel and Hospitality Employers Must Recruit Graduates More Effectively

Adam Williams

Retail, Travel and Hospitality Employers Must Recruit Graduates More Effectively

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The retail, travel and hospitality sectors are having a problem with graduate recruitment and employee retention. Here’s how technology can help.

At a time when technology-driven industries like Finance and IT seem to be getting all of the attention, it’s actually the human-services sectors like hospitality, tourism and retail, that continue to be the highest employers in the economy.

Indeed, in the UK, the hospitality and tourism employ about 2.5 million workers (according to people1st), representing an approximate 10% increase since 2009. But with such high employment levels, these industries have come up against two significant challenges: effective recruiting and employee engagement.

Employee Retention

The retail, hospitality and travel industries have consistently struggled with employee retention. Because these sectors are growing so fast, and because small businesses within them seldom have the stability of, say, a big bank, employees tend to jump from one establishment to another with a relatively high degree of frequency.

This problem is especially acute for restaurants, where factors like rotating shifts and seasonal demand fluctuations can often make the workflow inconsistent. In fact, this trend of steady employee turnover is becoming so severe that experts estimate the hospitality sector will have to recruit over 9993,000 more workers by 2022  870,000 as replacements.

What’s more, the industry’s constantly revolving door has resulted in a skills gap amongst current employees. According to a study by People1st, over “21% of hospitality and tourism businesses report that their existing staff lack essential skills,” and, on the flip side, 32% of employers believe that their managers lack motivation. Clearly, employees are moving up the promotional ladder, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re getting better at their jobs.

Another problem is that the retail and hospitality industries tend to be over-dependent on young (and often less stable) employees. In the UK, about 34% of the workforce is aged 25 or younger, which is nearly three times the global average (12%).

But forward-thinking companies are coming up with creative ways to address the current skills shortage, like capitalising on innovative new technologies to improve employee engagement and to give their graduate recruitment schemes a much-needed boost.

Technology Can Help

The hiring process usually serves as a candidate’s main point of reference for what it’s actually like to work for a company – for this reason, optimising the candidate experience and using it as a platform through which to broadcast your company’s culture and core values is crucial.

Today’s top graduates are tech-savvy millennials, and they’re looking to work at firms that are as forward-thinking as they are. What’s become clear is that the process of convincing graduates a company is innovative requires innovation in its own right.

By communicating your employer brand through all the channel students are accessing – such as social media, via content and of course through your company’s careers pages, you can ensure they know you are open to new ways of working and will be excited about the prospects of working for a more flexible organisation.

Give them the opportunity to apply via a super-slick mobile app or web page – rather than just via a clunky web interface – and they will feel much better upon entering the recruitment process.

Video interviewing software is a great way to improve the candidate experience throughout the screening and interviewing procedure, making the application process more convenient, while further demonstrating your organisation embraces technology and innovation.

On the flipside, implementing video interviewing into your graduate recruitment scheme will drastically improve your ability to attract right-fit hires. It broadens the initial pool of applicants while dramatically speeding up the screening process and ensuring that only the best graduates make it through to the assessment centre stage and in-person interviews.

Video Interviews in Action

Next – one of the UK’s largest high-street retailers – has faced growing problems with recruitment these past years. It wasn’t just that inflation and growing housing prices were demurring skilled graduates from applying for Next’s head office openings, it was that graduates didn’t actually know what a job in merchandising might entail.

Furthermore, they were unfamiliar with Next’s brand and company culture. Of course, the problem cut both ways: because of its outdated, centralised application system, Next was unable to effectively understand the personalities and values of the graduates it was targeting – or at least didn’t understand them well enough.

Luckily, the retail giant found a novel solution for this problem: video interviewing. With the help of LaunchPad Recruits, Next ran a trial to screen applicants for graduate, entry-level roles through a video interview process. This has now evolved into a long-term partnership, allowing Next to make genuine connections with their potential employees, resulting in more right fit hires, and less employee turnover in the long-term.

The Restaurant Group in the UK offers another striking, real-world example of the effectiveness of video-interviewing. Masher roles at The Restaurant Group’s outlets are very prestigious: potential employees have to be screened by all previous mashers before they can get the job.

Recruiters found themselves faced with a scheduling nightmare, and consequently, a serious time-lag in the recruitment process. LaunchPad's video interviewing software solved the problem quickly and efficiently. Now, The Restaurant Group has no trouble expediting their recruitment process because it can be done remotely, and it doesn’t have to sacrifice quality in the process. In fact, the company recently employed a Masher all the way from Dubai!

Integrating Technology Into Your Own Recruitment Program

All retail, hospitality and tourism employers know how hard it is to attract and hire right fit graduates. Companies have competitive graduate recruitment schemes, and they are moving closer to the source – college campuses – to find candidates.

Video interviewing is a great way to make your recruitment process stand apart from the rest. But simply incorporating the software into your existing scheme isn’t enough – your interviewers must engage potential candidates, while never losing sight of your brand’s image at any stage.

Adam Williams

Retail and Hospitality Lead for LaunchPad, Video technology for employers.