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We're all going on a summer holiday (all year round): overcoming the ups and downs of seasonality

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Career development, Employer ownership, Investment, Skills and training, Uncategorized

At this time of year, hospitality businesses are at full stretch, hosting holiday makers enjoying the British summer and making sure we are all having memorable holidays. But like other sectors, their trade is subject to seasonal peaks and troughs. Our latest report, part of the UK Futures Programme, shows that by working together with local councils, enterprise partnerships and other strategic bodies, it might just be possible for businesses to have summer, Easter or Christmas all year round!

At UKCES, we have been working with seven projects supported through our UK Futures Programme to test how businesses in the hospitality and retail sectors can help address some of their key problems by supporting pay and career progression for low paid staff. Problems include ‘talent loss’ (not being able to retain staff, sometimes because of seasonal troughs) and the knock-on problems of poor customer service and high recruitment costs.

The businesses and organisations we worked with looked to make career pathways clearer to staff; provide support for apprentices to help them overcome barriers to work; and change how work was carried out to allow staff to develop a wider range of skills and be more flexible in the workplace.

The projects also provide toolkits and guidance for other employers to consider how they can change what they do to improve their business.
The projects showed that there is greater potential for change where employers and the public sector work together. For example, in Cornwall, Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant, St Austell’s Brewery and Watergate Bay Hotel worked with Cornwall College and Visit Cornwall to share best practice in employment practices amongst each other and other small hospitality businesses through their Experts Grow toolkit. The intention is not just to improve prospects of those businesses and staff within, but through partnering the College and Tourist Board, to grow Cornwall as a year round destination with a reputation built on the professionalism of its staff.

Matthew Thomson, Chief Executive of Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall, says:

We are thrilled to have been invited to work with UKCES.  The hospitality industry is central to our regional economy and we need thriving, professional hospitality businesses to deliver sustainable and inclusive growth in Cornwall and beyond. Companies flourish when the people who make them are well rewarded and can shape their own careers.  Our partnership of progressive hospitality businesses is keen to make a difference across the south-west and we would love to hear from anyone with the same ambition.

There are other actions that businesses can take to tackle the twin troubles of talent loss and low pay. Findings from the projects include:

  • Ensure staff career progression opportunities are clearly communicated.
  • Progression can mean either traditional vertical progression - promotions – or horizontal progression – allowing staff to take on different tasks, enhancing business flexibility and increasing their earning potential. This means looking at how work is organised and getting to know staff to make the most of their skills and talents.
  • Good recruitment practices help get the right people but also motivates and engages them.
  • Smaller businesses might find it beneficial to work with other small businesses to develop a pool of talented staff.
  • Partnerships with other employers and the public sector can provide a bigger boost by ensuring there is a local strategy for sector growth.

Sean Taggart UKCES Commissioner and owner of a number of small tourism businesses, concludes:

For me, it is simple: providing progression opportunities helps firms to retain good staff, develop their workforce and reduce costs. This in turn achieves better quality service and sales along with increased productivity and ultimately more sustainable and successful businesses. Why wouldn’t you?

Our brochure provides key information on each project and how you can contact them to take action.

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