An Insider View: What Keeps Hospitality Leaders Up At Night


The hospitality industry finds itself in a state of flux. Many organisations have had to restructure – thus not only forcing executives to re-evaluate their professional careers, but also forcing the organisations themselves to more critically assess internal workflows, staffing and productivity levels. ‘Change management’, ‘adaptability’ and ‘innovation’ are certainly the buzzwords which are front of mind. Having recently participated in several panel discussions, below is a quick summary of what – collectively – senior executives have identified as their ‘top three’  leadership/HR worries. Unfortunately, questions still outweigh the answers…

  • In the current operating environment, defined by extreme financial pressure and the need to cut costs and reduce payroll, many hospitality organisations are axing entry-level positions and reducing the temporary or part-time work force – yet, often times minority groups are representing a large proportion of these roles and functions. Hospitality firms are thus grappling with the consequences of these austerity measures, which – unwillingly – jeopardise undoing a lot of progress which has been made in that area as it relates to providing equal opportunities to a much broader workforce. This will remain top of mind for leaders as they continue to navigate what is both best for their perspective companies financially as well as organisationally.
  • Most organisations have tried their very best to avoid major rounds of redundancies. However, for many the financial realities have hit home and action needed to be taken. They recognise, though, that what matters is not only the way these redundancies take place, but – more importantly – how organisations are further supporting at risk staff members or those who have already been made redundant. What has been highlighted was the urgent need to provide ongoing support – to help employees and staff members with potential cross-training initiatives, mentorship and coaching, or the provision of access to a support network. Organisations have equally highlighted their initiatives to provide better mental support – this applies to remaining staff members on the payroll as much as those who have been let go. For the moment, though, no one seems to have the perfect program in place.
  • Talking about mental wellbeing, many executives and organisations have highlighted the need to be more conscious about one’s own state of mind. Staying positive and keeping the long-term in mind can be difficult during times in which short-term survival depends on cost cuttings and drastic efficiency measures. Seeing opportunity in an environment of chaos requires a calm and steady approach and the mental space to identify or develop strategies and tactics which can help pivot a business into a different direction. Leaders are hereby not only required to display this ‘inner calmness’ themselves, but they are also focused on working with HR executives to instil the same in the general workforce. Many executives have actually highlighted here that focusing on the chance for those who remain in the workforce to prove themselves in times of crisis represents something of not just a baptism by fire – but an opportunity to test their leadership skills during a time of crisis and help pivot their business in a positive direction.

In line with what organisations are doing, leaders, too, are required to re-evaluate and assess their own strategies and tactics. The various round table discussions have brought to light opportunities which present themselves to hospitality executives – in particular, the technology sector has been highlighted as one of the business segments which appears to be keen to capitalise on the current available talent pool. Companies are looking for business or sales and marketing professionals who, with their knowledge of and relationships within the hospitality industry, could assist in growing market share (or to further enhance software products, tailored to the needs of hospitality clients). In fact, with many organisations looking to reposition themselves, or keen to tap into new customer segments, commercial functions appear to be in demand across a broad variety of business sectors. The same holds true for technology and IT experts – perhaps not surprising given the new business environment characterised by remote working. Executives thus shared that they are spending more time nurturing their professional network and building a small ‘personal board of advisors’ which can help identify or assess such hidden opportunities.