Employee turnover is an age-old problem in the hospitality industry, and will continue to present challenges in the years ahead. Though the industry itself is growing, labor shortages are on the rise in the coveted 18-24 age bracket. What's more, employees show continued willingness to move from one employer to another for better benefits, a healthier workplace culture, higher salary and similar. This presents a significant challenge to hospitality organizations whose success depends on a qualified, well-trained and competent work force.
Many companies struggle to train new employees because those doing the training are often new themselves. Consequently, many new hires are faced with learning their responsibilities while on the job and in the line of fire. This leads to an erosion of service quality.
Hotels should consider training approaches that seek to exploit the capabilities of technology-based training. IT-based training tools, while not new, have become more affordable and accessible on site at hotel properties, due to their ease-of-use and ability to create customized, modularized training content.
So how does today's hotelier come up with the right learning approach and infrastructure using today's state-of-the-art technologies? The answer is to move training online for centralized management but with localized, on-demand delivery. This approach makes sense for consistency, leveragability, and updating. Content changes can be made quickly and easily, and organizations can reuse training materials, thereby sharing the development costs.
Many companies are also turning to video games and simulation tools to teach core service concepts and managerial decision-making and to help make learning more engaging and fun. Cold Stone Creamery, for example, developed a game called Stone City to teach portion control to scoopers and its impact on store profitability.
To help address training needs across geographically disperse enterprises, some vendors have created a solution called a learning management system (or LMS). An LMS offers several advantages over first generation computer-based training technology, including:
- It is entirely web-based, which means it can be accessed on any computer that has an Internet connection.
- Everything is stored in a centralized repository. Content changes only need to be made once and in one place, and the updated information is made available immediately to all system users.
- Content can be differentiated based on the trainee's location, brand association, language, etc.
- Tests can be provided and scored in real-time to assess comprehension.
- Reports can be generated to show who has taken the training and who has not.
Traditional, face-to-face training carries several challenges, including high costs, scheduling and logistical considerations, and tracking results. Using an LMS, a great deal of training can be done on-line, resulting in cost savings as well as flexibility in changing content. The user can also monitor who has taken the training and who hasn't through the use of on-line tracking and testing capabilities.
At InterContinental Hotels Group, training on the Priority Club rewards program is routinely delivered and measured to more than 3,000 hotels across North America and Canada via an online LMS to ensure consistent program delivery and standardized service levels across all its brands.
Though successful, online training should not be viewed as a comprehensive solution to replace all face-to-face training. Rather, many companies have experienced success through a blended approach of offering both face-to-face and on-line training. For instance, initial set-up/installation training can be done face-to-face, while on-going new employee training or training that focuses on particularly complex or problematic areas can be handled through a web-based approach.
To determine what's best, hospitality professionals need to take into account where employees are located, what is most accessible, what the learning objectives are, and what approaches will yield the desired results.