By Richard A. Currie, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Boston University School of Hospitality Analytics
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. hospitality industry had longstanding issues related to attracting and retaining talented workforces. Such problems included low starting wages for many hospitality workers, high rates of employee turnover, as well as difficulties marketing an education in hospitality to prospective college students and their parents. Once the Covid-19 pandemic forced many hospitality organizations, both in the United States and around the world, to either significantly reduce their service offerings or close for business entirely, hospitality workers as well as the public in general quickly became aware of how the hospitality industry might be especially susceptible to major public health crises and economic downturns. These perceived susceptibilities in combination with pre-pandemic workforce-related challenges likely contributed to the Great Resignation – a term that represents the phenomenon where millions of U.S. hospitality workers voluntarily left their jobs in the hospitality industry in search of employment elsewhere in other industries and occupations.
As the world re-emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, there are a few questions worth asking. While we know much about former hospitality employees that either voluntarily or involuntarily left the industry, what does research have to say concerning the effect of the pandemic on workers that remained employed in the hospitality industry during the pandemic? What lessons might hospitality operators learn about how best to build resilient and thriving workforces? Are there novel strategies hospitality operators might take to cultivate racially inclusive workplaces?
Accordingly, this special issue of Boston Hospitality Review on Leadership is comprised of four articles from a diverse set of authors, each of which seeks to provide answers to one or more of these questions. The article by Richard Currie, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the School of Hospitality Administration at Boston University, presents findings from a research study on strain outcomes associated with job insecurity for hospitality workers that remained employed in the hospitality industry during the Covid-19 pandemic. Quendrida Whitmore, Ed.D., executive coach and founder of Quendrida Whitmore Coaching and Consulting, authored an article that contains practical tips and best practices to enable hospitality operators to attract and retain the right talent, develop communicative and empathetic leaders, and create organizational cultures that foster passion and commitment to both the workplace and the work itself. A third article authored by Sarah Diehl, founder of the hospitality human resource consulting firm Empowered Hospitality, provides additional evidence-based strategies to train and develop talented workforces, while also describing how employee benefits packages may serve as a useful tool to attract and retain workers. Lastly, Sean McGinley, Ph.D., Florida State University, and Ravi Ramani, Ph.D., Morgan State University, co-authored an article on gamified selection and promotion systems that may help to reduce bias that is often present when relying on more conventional methods of selection and promotion.
Together, the articles included in this issue of Boston Hospitality Review provide a largely prescriptive, forward-looking perspective on how best to build talented hospitality workforces that meet the needs and demands of the future.