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Feeling the Hospitality Staff Shortage? Hire Locally with These Tips

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Since the announcement of drastic changes to the 457 visa program, hospitality businesses have been scrambling to find another answer to the hospitality industry’s critical staff shortages.

The Federal Government’s crackdown on 457 visas was partially designed to encourage businesses to hire locally. Yet many businesses attest to the difficulties they have in finding and retaining quality local staff.

Part of this is due to hospitality not being seen as a viable long term career. A recent survey by Year13 found that 74% of its school-aged respondents dismissed vocational training. Over 16% of those who do take up an apprenticeship do not complete their course.

And with the hospitality industry struggling to retain staff – new hires typically lasting only 8 months in one business – the question for many hospitality owners is how to hire and keep exceptional Australian chefs, cooks, and wait staff.

How to Attract Quality Local Hires

Invest in In-House Training

Many hospitality businesses with good cash flow have turned to in-house training to ensure they keep quality, local staff.

Chris Lucas of the Lucas Group (which operates Chin Chin, among other venues) has invested $2.5 million in 12 months into a training department with four full-time staff.

In-house training gives employees clear avenues for promotion, so they can see the potential for career progression, something that’s often missing from many hospitality venues.

Such in-house training encourages staff to stick around, not to mention it helps develop staff members with the desired skillset you need. For the Lucas Group, this strategy has helped to halve the staff shortage in two years.

Cultivate a Renowned Workplace Culture

The Deloitte Access Economics’ Australian Tourism Labour Force Report 2015-2020 predicts the hospitality industry to suffer a 123,000 worker shortfall by 2020.

With the increasing competition for staff in the industry, what are you going to do to make your business stand out for potential new local hires?

Hospitality venues are renowned for their fast-paced, high-demand work. This can often create a stressful environment for employees, but it doesn’t need to be.

Create a positive workplace for your staff so they look forward to coming on shift. Promote the team culture with team building exercises, social events, regular meetings, and community engagement.

Promoting a clear brand culture – whether it’s a coffee-club focus, a hipster vibe or a prestigious fine dining experience – can also help attract locals with the same beliefs or personality, so you find the right fit for every position.

With any luck, you’ll have potential new local employees approaching you for job opportunities, because word of mouth has spread about your positive culture!

Consider a 4 Day Work Week

Led by Attica’s Ben Shewry, some Australian hospitality businesses have started offering a four-day work week to their staff members. It may seem counterproductive and counterintuitive to offer fewer shifts to staff if you’re suffering a shortage.

But hospitality work – particularly for those in the kitchen – is often renowned for its unstructured work schedules and long hours. Offering a four-day work week not only boosts staff morale and engagement, it can prove a huge calling card for a business looking for new staff.

Antoine Reymond of Bistro Gitan and L’Hotel Gitan reports plenty of benefits of the four-day work week, chief among them the decrease in employee turnover. After all, as people get older, they will generally have more commitments, and a four-day week enables more freedom and flexibility, keeping people who may not normally have been able to stay in hospitality.

With the 457 visa changes making it trickier for you to attract highly-skilled foreign chefs, cooks, and other hospitality experts, it’s time to get creative about finding and attracting local talent to your venue.

Working on a positive brand culture, reinforcing a good work-life balance and offering avenues for career progression are all ways you can try to attract Australian workers. Check out some of our other tips for hiring and training staff today!