The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Hospitality Employer of Choice

by Isioma Daniel, 13 minutes read
HOME blog the ultimate guide to becoming a hospitality employer of choice

The hospitality industry can be one of the most rewarding and challenging fields to work in. As an employer in this highly competitive industry, it’s essential to understand how to attract and retain top talent to run a successful business and provide the best possible experience for your customers. 

So, how do you become the hospitality brand everyone wants to work for? This comprehensive guide will provide actionable strategies to position your business as the employer of choice in your part of the world. 

1. Understanding the Importance of Employer Branding

The foundation of becoming an employer of choice begins with understanding the significance of employer branding. There’s no getting around it - to become an employer of choice, you must start by building a strong employer brand. This section will explore why a strong employer brand matters and how it impacts your ability to attract and retain talent. 

What is your employer brand? Your employer brand is how you communicate your company's values, mission, and goals to your employees, potential hires, and the wider world.  A great employer brand is an outward expression of the internal culture of the organisation, and it’s crucial for attracting the best talent in the industry and keeping your current employees motivated and engaged. 

To build a strong employer brand, you must start by defining what your company stands for and what sets you apart from your competitors. Once you have a clear brand message, you must communicate it consistently across all your marketing channels, including job postings, social media profiles, and press releases.

For example, in 2021, one of our customers, Honest Burgers, shared its updated employment contract on LinkedIn with the following statement: “Here’s our new employment contract. Our old one felt one-sided, and it only protected Honest Burgers. So we changed it – to protect our teammates too. We now have guaranteed hours for everybody; this means nobody has a zero-hour contract (unless they ask), and nobody is on minimum wage, regardless of age or position. We offer private healthcare for everyone.” 

This public release of Honest Burgers’ new employment contract represented a refreshing new way to build an explicit agreement between a company and its people. It positioned Honest Burgers as a business that tries to live up to its values of transparency and honesty. 

2. Creating a Compelling Employee Value Proposition (EVP)

What is an Employee Value Proposition? Your Employee Value Proposition is the heart of your employer brand - the unique set of benefits and rewards an employee receives in return for the skills, capabilities, and experience they bring to a company. An effective EVP can help your company stand out in a crowded job market, attract top talent, and retain existing employees. 

Let’s delve into the components of a compelling EVP and how to tailor it to attract the right talent.

The Key Elements of an Effective EVP 

An EVP encompasses several components that collectively define your employment offer. These include:

  • Work Culture: This refers to the environment and ethos of your organisation. A positive, inclusive, and supportive culture can significantly enhance your EVP. You can use Deputy’s communication tools to regularly share your business’s mission and values, fostering a sense of alignment and purpose among your workforce. 

  • Salary: Competitive pay is vital — there’s no denying this. However, remember that today’s workforce often values a complete package of benefits over salary alone. 

  • Benefits: Your benefits can make a significant difference, from health insurance and an Employee Assistance Program to vacation time. Over 60% of UK shift workers in our State of Shift Work survey say their employers have offered additional benefits such as free mental health programs, financial education opportunities, same-day pay for quicker access to wages, free meals and drinks, and cashback offers. Second to better pay, these benefits rank highly according to our data in retaining employees, with 94% of UK shift workers wanting more benefits. 

  • Career Advancement Opportunities: Clear pathways for career progression can make your company more attractive to ambitious professionals — leverage Deputy’s performance management tools to track employee progress and implement effective career progression plans. 

  • Work-Life Balance: Focusing on work-life balance can set your organisation apart in today's fast-paced world. Promote flexible scheduling to accommodate personal commitments and have robust leave management processes

Tailoring Your EVP for the Hospitality Industry 

Tailoring your EVP for hospitality has unique challenges and opportunities because it is a demanding industry. Your EVP should reflect this reality. Communicate the following messages in your EVP:

  • High Seasonal Demand:  Address the industry's seasonality by offering year-round employment options or flexible scheduling arrangements. With shift swapping and leave management features, Deputy promotes work-life balance and flexibility for shift workers. 

  • Customer-Facing Roles: In job ads and brand campaigns, highlight the opportunity to interact with diverse guests and gain valuable customer service experience. Promote diversity in your marketing imagery and messaging.

  • Diverse Workforce: Highlight the varied and dynamic nature of the industry. Promoting diversity and inclusion is a strength, given the multicultural nature of the hospitality industry. Creating a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming workplace is essential to becoming a hospitality employer of choice. Communicate clearly in your EVP that you aim to recruit candidates from a variety of backgrounds, implement inclusive policies and practices, and that you train all your staff on diversity and cultural awareness. 

  • Training and Certifications:  As part of your EVP, position yourself as a company that offers opportunities for employees to gain industry-specific certifications and skills. Use Deputy’s performance management toolsto track employee progress and implement effective career progression plans. 

3: Leveraging Technology for Workforce Management

Modern technology can revolutionise how you manage teams — from scheduling to time tracking, communication, hiring, and onboarding and being known as a modern company with contemporary tools positions you as an attractive employer, particularly with a young workforce. 

Hospitality hires a lot of young people who live life on their smartphones. As a hospitality manager, attracting and retaining talent is your top priority - and issues with legacy technology affecting your operations can quickly negatively impact your ability to hold on to staff.

Honest Burgers acted swiftly and shifted to Deputy when spreadsheets were causing payroll errors. “We were getting hundreds of messages from staff we’d paid wrong or spending hours checking that we’d paid tips correctly,” says Stuart Macnab-Grieve, Operations Partner at Honest Burgers.

With Deputy, you can streamline scheduling, time tracking, payroll, and communication, enhancing your reputation as an excellent workplace and improving your employees’ experience.  Honest Burgers can attest to this. “Having a great smartphone app where the team can see their shifts and request shifts in one place is gold. The feedback’s been positive,” says Stuart. 

4: Attracting Top Talent

To be an employer of choice, you must know how to attract top talent. Recruiting the right people is essential for setting up your hospitality business for success. Choosing the best people for the job, with the right skills and experience to bring your brand to life, can take time and effort. 

Creating a comprehensive recruitment process that provides applicants with a positive experience from start to finish is essential. This section will explore various recruitment strategies, from crafting enticing job descriptions to leveraging online platforms effectively.

i) Crafting Engaging Job Descriptions

Your journey to better employee retention starts with an enticing job description. It’s vital to write job descriptions that reflect your company culture and highlight opportunities for growth and development, all while using language that resonates with your target candidates. Deputy’s AI capabilities can support you in crafting compelling listings that attract candidates who align with your company’s values. With Deputy, you can create and post a job in seconds using AI-assisted job descriptions to get the help needed to find the right people.

ii)Improving Communication During Hiring

Clear, timely, and respectful communication during the hiring process can make applicants feel valued, improving their feelings about your brand and increasing the likelihood of them accepting a job offer and staying with your company. Providing detailed feedback to applicants creates a positive candidate experience. HR tech can support you in effortlessly moving candidates through the recruitment process, informing them with automated messages as they progress, and once you’ve hired them, helping move them straight through to onboarding. 

iii) Communicating Company Culture

Your company culture is one of your most significant selling points. Showcase it in every step of the hiring process, from the language used in your job ads to the look and feel of your website. Ensure your mission, values, and vision come across clearly to potential candidates. Share employee stories and successes to give candidates a glimpse of your company culture. Give behind-the-scenes glimpses of your workplace.

iv) Optimising Job Postings for Online Platforms and Social Media

The digital age demands a solid online presence. With Deputy Hire, you can leverage online platforms to reach a wider pool of candidates while maintaining your brand identity. You can also use Deputy’s integration with popular job boards to contact a wider pool of candidates. You can promote your job listings across the world’s leading job boards and social channels like LinkedIn in one click

It’s also essential to tailor the candidate experience.  With a hiring platform like Deputy, you can easily tailor your application questions and allow candidates to shine with video responses. This increases your chances of finding the right fit for the role while providing a better candidate experience. 

“I enjoyed the video application, as I felt confident I had the opportunity to connect with the audience and show my true self beyond the words on my CV,” says an applicant to Piccolina Gelateria, one of our customers. 

5: Enhance the Employee Onboarding Experience 

Once you've attracted talent, providing an exceptional onboarding experience and a positive employee journey is crucial. Your employees’ journey begins on day one. Make it memorable. Learn how to set the stage for long-term retention. 

i) Leveraging Digital Onboarding Platforms for Efficiency

Digital onboarding platforms can automate many of the tasks involved in onboarding, such as paperwork and compliance processes. This frees up time for you to focus on more strategic tasks. Deputy Onboarding streamlines the onboarding process, reducing paperwork and enhancing the new hire process. “I’ve been using Deputy Onboarding for some time now. It’s a handy feature. It saves me time and money,” says Mary Birks, HR Manager at MPK Garages

ii)  Automating Paperwork and Compliance Processes

Automating paperwork and compliance processes can help ensure you meet all onboarding requirements promptly and efficiently. Automation can save time, reduce errors, and reduce administrative burden. “Onboarding used to take us at least a week for each new starter, which could delay them getting paid. With Deputy, you can get through all the onboarding paperwork on Tuesday and include them on the pay run the next day,” says Simon Fox, General Manager, Operations, The Boathouse Group

iii) Gamifying Onboarding to Enhance Engagement

Gamification means using gameplay mechanics for non-game applications to encourage specific behaviours and outcomes. Gamification can make onboarding more engaging and interactive for new hires by adding elements that make the hire experience more fun, competitive, and exciting. Details such as games and quizzes can help new starters learn more quickly and effectively about the company culture and their new role. Points, scores, and leaderboards are traditional gamification elements that show your employees how much progress they make with their onboarding. 

Deputy’s digital onboarding platform can enhance the onboarding experience for your new hires, saving time and improving your employer of choice branding. 

6: Employee Development and Growth

To retain your talent, you must invest in their development and growth. Providing opportunities for your staff to grow and progress with their roles ensures they feel valued and rewarded for their hard work. This section will cover strategies for providing ongoing training, mentorship programs, and career progression opportunities. 

i) Personalised Skill Development and Training Programs

Provide your staff with the training and development they need to succeed. This could include formal training programs, on-the-job training, or mentorship opportunities. 

ii)  Implementing Career Progression Plans

Create clear career paths for employees so they know what they need to reach their goals. Support them in mapping out their career goals and developing a plan to achieve them. This will give them a sense of purpose and direction in their work—leverage Deputy’s performance management tools to track employee progress and implement effective career progression plans. 

iii) Mentoring and Coaching Initiatives

Pair your newer starters with experienced mentors or work coaches who can help them develop their skills and knowledge. Use Deputy’s communication tools to share mentoring and coaching messages within the business. 

7: Building a Positive Work Culture

A positive work culture is a cornerstone of becoming an employer of choice. Working in hospitality can be physically demanding and emotionally challenging. Tanja Sonja Schoenberger, Operations Manager at Barworks, discusses instilling a supportive working environment.  

"We want everybody who works for us to know that we don't just sit around and look at spreadsheets and go, 'This is how you do things.' Everyone in senior management has worked their way up from the floor. We know how hard it is mentally and physically to work behind a bar. And so the support systems we have in place come from a deep understanding of the industry," she says. 

i) Offer Flexible Work Arrangements for Shift Workers

According to Deputy’s 2023 State of Shift Work report, one-fifth of UK shift workers have more than one job, making flexible working arrangements and clarity even more critical. 45% of UK shift workers value the ability to fit in other commitments, and 43% say they appreciate schedule flexibility. A flexible working culture is the number one priority for shift workers. 

Flexible work schedules mean something very different for shift workers than what they mean to 9 - 5ers. For shift workers, flexibility means having more control over when they work, a stable and predictable shift schedule, the ability to declare their availability, and swap shifts quickly when life happens. Deputy’s scheduling tools can accommodate shift workers’ needs, offering flexible arrangements and easy shift swapping that enhance work-life balance. 

ii) Nurture Employee Wellbeing Through Wellness Initiatives

These include on-site fitness facilities or equipment like yoga mats or weights, free mental health resources, EAP, or health insurance. Over 60% of UK shift workers in our State of Shift Work survey say their employers have offered additional benefits such as free mental health programs, financial education opportunities, same-day pay for quicker access to wages, free meals and drinks, and cashback offers to remedy some of the effects of the cost of living crisis. Second, to better pay, these benefits rank highly according to our data in retaining employees, with 94% of UK shift workers wanting more benefits. 

iii) Promote Mental Health Support and Resources

Provide mental health resources, such as counselling or therapy through an Employee Assistance Programme to create a culture where staff feel comfortable discussing their mental health. Check out our Hospitality Growth Hacks series that tackles how to support and retain your team through the cost of living crisis. You can use Deputy’s communication platform to share mental health resources and support or give words of encouragement to your team during a hard shift. 

8. Measuring and Improving Employer Brand

Hopefully, once you’ve begun implementing these measures, you should see your business's reputation as an employer improve. To continuously improve, you must measure the effectiveness of your employer brand initiatives. Here are the critical metrics for tracking your progress and making data-driven improvements.

i) Employee Satisfaction

Define and measure employee satisfaction metrics, including surveys and feedback loops. A satisfied employee is proof of a strong employer brand. Regularly surveying employees and their job performance can provide valuable insights into how your brand is perceived internally. 

ii) Candidate Quality

If you’re attracting high-quality candidates, your employer brand is resonating with the right audience. Track the qualifications and experience of your applicants over time to assess this metric. 

iii) Retention Rate

High staff retention rates suggest that your business isn’t only attracting quality talent; it’s successfully retaining them. Monitor your turnover rates closely, and conduct exit interviews when employees do leave. 

Case Study: Successful Hospitality Employers - Honest Burgers, Barworks, Winter Wonderland

Honest Burgers, Barworks, Atlas Hotels, and Winter Wonderland are brands that partner with Deputy to improve their employee experience. 

Hospitality hires many young people who live on their smartphones, and Deputy has improved the employee experience for Honest Burgers’ young employee demographic. 

“Having a great smartphone app where the team can see their shifts and request shifts in one place is gold. They don’t have to sit in front of a laptop. They get a notification when their rota is ready, and they’re good to go,” says Stuart Macnab-Grieve, 

“Our staff are also generally happier on shift since we implemented Deputy. They’ve got the right number of people on shift, they’re not being brought in for a shift then sent home an hour and a half later because the manager’s put too many people on,” says Stuart Macnab-Grieve, Operations Partner at Honest Burgers in our latest video with Honest Burgers. 

“Deputy plays a larger role in staff retention because our staff can use Deputy to request time off, display their availability and see their rotas ahead of time and in real-time, which helps them plan their lives better,” echoes Cody Gaffney, Assistant Manager at Honest Burgers, Finsbury Park.

“The Deputy system’s one of the reasons I stay at Honest Burgers,” says Fred Houlder, Hospitality Master at Honest Burgers. 

For Barworks, creating an excellent place to work is also extremely  important. 

"Deputy empowers us to be the best employers we can be. It aligns perfectly with our people-first approach, enabling us to invest more time in our team and build a stronger workforce," says Tanja Sonja Schoenberger, Operations Manager at Barworks

Winter Wonderland, London’s largest seasonal amusement park, strives to do right by its staff. 

“Deputy has improved trust massively between staff and management. There are no disputes anymore about who worked where and when. It’s introduced transparency both for managers and employees. Staff could see exactly what hours they were getting paid for," says Fiona Sadler, Senior Manager Recruitment at Winter Wonderland.

"It’s improved trust and transparency. They can now see what shifts they've worked and that they have been recorded and approved. In the past, after we'd run payroll for 100 staff, 15 would return to us querying their pay. We might now get one person, which is usually down to personal error; either they didn't clock in, or I hadn't approved their shift," says Wasib Awan, Box Office Manager at Winter Wonderland.

Atlas Hotels, the biggestIHG Hotels & Resortsfranchisee of Holiday Inn Express Hotels in Europe, was keen to improve work-life balance for its employees when they deployed Deputy. 

“Before Deputy, the recurring complaints in our Employee Engagement Survey were around a lack of work-life balance. We can’t control the external labour market conditions we’re all facing, but we can control doing everything we can to make our existing employees happy. And I’m pleased to say that since implementing Deputy, those complaints have reduced to 5 comments from 766 employees,” says Sub Iyer, Head of Operations - South at Atlas Hotels.  

Put Your Employees First

Becoming a hospitality employer of choice is an ongoing journey and is all about putting your employees first. 

By understanding the importance of employer branding, honing your Employee Value Proposition (EVP), leveraging technology to manage your workforce, improving your hiring and onboarding experience, creating opportunities for employee development and growth, and building a positive work culture, you can become the business every great candidate aspires to work for. 

By following these steps, you can position your hospitality business as the go-to destination for top talent, ensuring long-term success in the industry. Try Deputy for improved efficiency and employee satisfaction.