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Hoteliers'​ Ignorance is Not a Blessing

I was talking to somebody yesterday who basically said, "Hoteliers are the greatest recruiters for the retail sector and standalone restaurants here in Dubai."

It has been happening for years, right before our eyes, and we have no idea about it or choose to ignore it (willful blindness is a thing). I am still trying to figure out which one. Retail and independent restaurant recruiters are sitting in our bars, cafes, and restaurants, scouting for talent. Why wouldn't they? I have been saying for years, "Go and find talent. Don't just post vacancies and pray for the best." And they are doing it.

In the meantime, hoteliers face 45% (which has been normalised) staff turnover and celebrate when it drops to 42%. We did better than last year, well done! But remember that those guys in retail have a 10-15% turnover rate. We plan overseas recruitment trips, hire recruitment agencies to bring people into the country, we train them, only to lose them within a few months.

So why are our staff so easy to be lured away from us? The answer is easy. Retail and private restaurants are catching up to the 21st century with their people practices, while hoteliers still live in 1967, unwilling to change.

The benefits are incomparable, and it is not all about the money! Of course, pay is better outside of the hotel industry, but what is even better is the much-needed flexibility hoteliers have been asking for for years. Retail offers all sorts of flexible contracts, such as part-time, 4-day work week, only morning, mid-shift or early evening jobs and shared part-time if you are a parent so one day mom works half day and the next day dad does. They get the monthly commission, transportation allowance allowing them to commute anywhere in the city (not just being bussed between the staff accommodation and the hotel), leave out allowance for everyone, which integrates them into society as opposed to the hotel staff who often feel that they are not part of it. How would they be if their lives lived in the hotel or at accommodation mostly somewhere outskirts of the city?

We don't see that things can be done differently, even if it is in our faces. Let's take the Mall of The Emirates as an example. There are two hotels in the same building as hundreds of retail stores and restaurants. Those thousands of staff commute to work by metro (mostly), yet, it has yet to occur to the HR team and the GMs of those two hotels that "Hey, maybe we don't need to bus and accommodate our people. We could just do as others do, we just need to be commercially sound enough to present this positively to the owning company." Instead, they sit back and watch progress pass by them, utterly blind to the information presented.

Flexibility is the way forward, and as long as we don't get that, we will be the recruiters of the service industry. People no longer want to spend their lives at work. They want to be part of society, have private lives, and have time to spend on hobbies, with friends or studying.

If you watch TikTok, you must have seen the emergence of videos of the younger generations saying, "I don't want a career or climb the corporate ladder; I just want a job that allows me to live my life outside of work." These videos must ring the alarm bell as this will majorly impact EVPs and professional development.

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