How spa & hospitality can attract and retain talent in 2024

attract and retain talent

The crisis continues: so, here’s how to attract and retain talent at your spa & hospitality business in the coming year.

It’s old news at this point, but an issue that continues to plague the spa and hospitality industries, and therefore one we continue to address: as we head into 2024, are we any closer to solving the staff crisis? 

Here’s a sad metric:

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Job Openings and Labor Turnover report (JOLTS), the hospitality industry has the highest turnover rates of any sector – by a lot. In 2021, the accommodation and food services industry had a turnover rate of 86.3%. That’s down from the 2020 pandemic high of 130%, but it’s still significantly more than the US national average of 47.2%. We need to reduce those numbers.

Companies are working on the issue. Like Marriott International, which launched its new people brand, “Be,” earlier this year with a plan to focus on attracting and retaining top talent around the world. And Hilton introduced a large-scale employer brand campaign called “Every Job Makes the Stay,” to increase attention to career opportunities available at the hotel, specifically for those considering front-line and hourly positions.

What can the rest of the industry do? Face facts, for one thing. Sometimes people refuse to see what’s right in front of us. We hide behind buzzwords like “company culture,” “mission and values,” and, somewhat ironically, “wellness” – while ignoring what people actually want and need when it comes to employment. A company’s “values” don’t mean anything to an employee who is burning themselves out to pay the bills. And what good are free gym memberships and yoga classes to a mom who can’t even find childcare to cover her work shifts?  

The pandemic saw a lot of hospitality employees get let go, and many of those people vowed never to return to the industry. This firsthand experience with feeling expendable was a wake up call for them. It should be for us too.

Here are some tips on how hospitality businesses can attract and retain talent in 2024. 

Be upfront about compensation  – You can save a lot of time and effort by being upfront in your job posting about compensation. People will only apply if the compensation is within their range, rather than waste your time and theirs only to learn that they’re not interested. Companies continue to push back hard against pay transparency because it might cost them by exposing unfair practices, but consider the notion that protecting your right to compensate your teams unevenly might not be fighting the good fight.

Pay people as much as you (really) can – Obviously compensation is a huge part of why people leave jobs. If they can’t make enough money to not just pay their bills but also live a life worth living, why do they want this job? They might need it – but they won’t want it. Meaning, they’ll apply for it and accept a lowball offer but the moment something better comes along, they’re going to take it and leave. And if you run your business this way, turnover will always be high. If you can’t afford to pay people what they’re worth, that’s not an excuse, it’s a problem to fix by looking at ways to increase revenue and decrease costs. Tiered, performance-based compensation systems are something to consider.

Keep time to hire short – Time to hire is a crucial metric in a talent crisis. Research has found that time to hire is increasing and is approximately 44 days across all industries. While hospitality is generally lower than the average, keep in mind that the faster people can move through the process without cutting corners, the better. When someone is actively seeking employment, they are not just applying with one company and they don’t want to wait six weeks to find out if they are going to be able to eat and pay the rent and will take another offer if it comes along. 

Don’t burn out your teams – Burnout is big in spa and hospitality as managers try to fill the gaps by demanding more of the people they do have. It’s understandable to a degree. Bookings can be unpredictable and you can’t hire a bunch of staff for busy times, only to have them sitting around with nothing to do the rest of the time. Again, however, it’s leadership’s responsibility to smooth this out by maximizing schedules and accepting that sometimes you have to turn away customers. Yield management can be a life saver in this area, as you can fill less in-demand time slots with dynamic pricing.

Provide growth and advancement opportunities – Advancement and growth opportunities are important to people. Nobody wants to feel like they have nowhere to go and upward momentum is key to many people’s happiness. Short sighted leaders keep people stuck in the same roles while prescient ones support their growth. This will mean that some people leave, but it also means they will be happy in their roles while they are in them, which reflects on your guest experience. And if you don’t let them grow, they’re going to leave you anyway, so you might as well nurture those careers and relationships. Tracking employees into management roles also means that, when the time comes, you have well-trained and experienced managers who know your brand.

Offer comprehensive training and onboarding – At no point should an employee not know what is expected of them or what they are supposed to be doing. Offering comprehensive training and onboarding builds employee confidence and gives people the tools and information that they need to perform at their best, and people feel good when they know they are doing a good job. It also streamlines processes and improves guest experience. Don’t skip this step. 

Optimize scheduling – Shift work can be frustratingly uneven and that is bad for staff morale. Again, your software’s yield management functionality can help fill less busy time slots. Turn-away tracking, meanwhile, can help you determine reasons for turning away customers so you can tweak schedules accordingly. Your software should also eliminate conflicts and be accessible from anywhere so your team can check their schedules from wherever they are and at whatever time.

Recognize and reward your people –  Recognition helps to build strong company cultures. Just like nobody likes to feel stuck, people don’t like feeling invisible and unappreciated either. Recognizing employees is also good for business. A study by Gallup and Workhuman found that by making recognition an important part of company culture, a 10,000-person organization with an already engaged workforce can save up to $16 million annually due to reduced employee turnover. Reward the big things, but also reward the little things, and don’t always focus on the stars. Your B players should be recognized too. They are an important part of your business.

Share business goals – When people feel like they are an integral part of  the success of something, they are more invested in that success. This is why sharing your goals with your team members so that everyone is aligned is a key strategy. This gives people something to work towards, gets them working together, and helps provide direction. We all need a target to work towards.

Employers need to start giving people what they want and need – and not just barely meeting these needs but exceeding them. Only then will people want to join our teams and stay.

Spa Executive is published by Book4Time, the leader in guest management, revenue and mobile solutions for the most exclusive spas, hotels, and resorts around the globe. Learn more at 

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