Our sincere thanks to all participants in our annual survey of partners and stakeholders and to those who distributed the survey to their members. Your insightful feedback allows us to respond to industry needs and keep on top of emerging issues affecting our sector.
We asked a lot of key questions and are starting to dig through the robust data. Detailed analyses will follow, but here is a preliminary look at the highlights so far.
The sector’s priorities for the next five years will be skills upgrading for all staff, be they supervisors, managers, or frontline. Skills upgrading has consistently been the top priority since we launched this survey in 2016. A close second is finding ways to retain existing employees. Succession planning remains a high priority, as does using technology to improve productivity. Interestingly, increasing automation of business processes was the lowest priority, suggesting the industry sees technology as a tool for workforce enhancement rather than workforce replacement.
Human Capital Priorities: Next Five Years
Respondents told us tourism’s skilled labour shortage is having many effects. The most pressing included managers doing “double duty”: filling in for missing frontline staff. While every manager and supervisor does this upon occasion, when it becomes commonplace the negative effects are compounded. Regularly filling frontline roles pulls managers away from their main duties—one of which is finding ways to mitigate the impact of missing frontline staff.
Labour shortages are also eroding businesses’ ability to compete and making it difficult for them to expand their offerings. Hampered growth is a serious problem at a time when demand for tourism services is growing rapidly.
Effect of the Skilled Labour Shortage
When asked to identify the most pressing issue affecting their ability to attract and retain workers, respondents’ answers varied, but a few trends did emerge. Businesses were concerned about competition, whether from other tourism businesses or other industries. The sector’s reputation, the inability to pay higher wages, and, for many businesses, location also hampered attraction and retention efforts.
Multiple factors affect tourism and hospitality, whether for good or for ill. Respondents felt that in the coming years increased competition from other sectors, lack of funding for HR needs, and changing government policies would each have a negative effect. They then identified new and expanding markets, increasing immigration and diversification, increasing use of technology, and the introduction of more sustainable practices as positive factors. Respondents were divided evenly on whether the economy would be a positive or negative influence.
Effect on Tourism’s Labour Market
Answers to “In which of the following areas will we see the greatest change or activity that will affect the growth of tourism in the coming year?” reflected this uncertainty— the economy was the first choice by a large margin. When asked what specific economic issue they considered when responding, many told us they were concerned about increasing costs for businesses, the repercussions of changing relations with the United States, and the potential effect this all could have on people’s discretionary spending. Clearly the tourism sector shares the general sense of economic uncertainty currently felt across all areas of the economy.
Area of Greatest Change Affecting Tourism
Finally, 48 percent of respondents were not subscribed to HR Insider. Spread the word: share your copy so all tourism and hospitality stakeholders can keep up to date on—and react to—the latest HR trends that will affect them.