Hospitality? The 5 T’s of Hospitality Onboarding

Hospitality has some of the highest rates of employee turnover of any industry.

In Australia, the statistics are less transparent than the US; however, research by Griffith University indicates that voluntary turnover in the hotel industry over the last decade has been as high as 59.4% 3. This compares to an average all sector turnover between 13-18.5% as reported by the AHRI Pulse Survey between 2008 – 2015.

The bottom line

As a labour intensive industry, the cost of unnecessary turnover is a significant burden for the hospitality industry. The direct costs of recruitment and training are easily quantified. But what many hospitality leaders fail to account for are the indirect costs of reduced workplace productivity and poor customer service which has an even greater impact on the bottom line.

Hospitality Onboarding Stats

Key challenges

The exceptionally high levels of turnover in hospitality can be put down to some basic factors:

  • low-skilled and low-paying work;
  • unsocial working hours;
  • seasonality;
  • lack of meaningful work; and a
  • perceived lack of training and career advancement.4 5

No surprises here.

The problem of turnover however is compounded by the makeup of the workforce. A large proportion of hospitality employees are Generation Y’s (also known as Millennials born between 1981 and 1994) and increasingly Generation Z’s (also known as Post Millennials born after 1995).

Though generally considered confident, committed and ambitious, Y’s & Z’s are known to seek greater work-life balance, career development, communication and connection than earlier generations did. Needless to say, the hospitality industry struggles to meet these expectations.

Unfortunately many leaders have resigned themselves to the belief that high turnover is just part of doing business. But it doesn’t need to be that way.

Is Hospitality Onboarding the Solution?

Onboarding opens significant opportunities to connect with and engage new employees, for the long term. Onboarding goes beyond traditional orientations and inductions to prepare a new hire to be a fully competent and contributing employee, committed to the business.

Hospitality onboarding is definitely not a one size fits all approach. It needs to respond to the needs and expectations of the individual employee. It is therefore really important that before you embark upon designing an onboarding process, you first understand your workforce.

Hospitality Onboarding Stats

The 5 T’s of Onboarding Gen Y’s & Z’s

Gen Y’s and Z’s respond well to onboarding. They have grown up with a high degree of structure in their lives and prefer supportive environments and are motivated by positive feedback.

Y/Z’s are more comfortable with technology than any generation before them. They are the “digital natives” that can intuitively work across multiple platforms. They expect to be able to access technology to complete employment paperwork, share and access information and develop social connections across your business.

Onboarding should be pitched at the right level and tailored to the specific role. Gen Y’s and Z’s are multi-modal learners and demand communication and personalised training that accommodates their individual approach to receiving knowledge. A mix of interventions including on-the-job learning, eLearning, shadowing, buddy programmes, group discussions and mentoring all add up to make the first days inspiring and motivating for these young workers.

Y/Z employees are used to working as part of a team, having often been educated in group environments. They like to get to know their team and share experiences with colleagues. It is important to provide opportunities for Y/Z’s to develop relationships across the business so that they feel a strong sense of belonging – irrespective of their hours and shift rotations.

Millennials and their younger counterparts have very high expectations for their career trajectory. They’ll probably want to know what they need to do to get promoted and how long it will take to get there.

It will be important to have frank conversations with Y/Z employees right from the outset about how you intend to develop their skills and increase their responsibilities over time. Introducing performance milestones for them to strive towards in their first 3/6/12 months will help focus their performance and keep them invested in their own success.

(Ok – so ‘context’ is not spelt with a T…but you get the point.)

More than any other generation, Gen Y/Z’s want to understand ‘why’. Context is key. Finding ways to immerse your new hire in your culture, to see first hand the company values in action, and to understand how what they do contributes to the overall business strategy and objectives is essential to getting their commitment and buy-in.


Four areas you need to include in your onboarding checklist

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Guide to Onboarding

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  1. “Table 16. Annual Total Separations Rates by Industry and Region, Not Seasonally Adjusted.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Web. 21 June 2017.
  2. “Table 18. Annual Quits Rates by Industry and Region, Not Seasonally Adjusted.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Web. 21 June 2017.
  3. Aksu, A. Akin. “Turnover Costs: Research Among Five-Star Hotels In The City Of Antalya, Turkey.” Tourism Analysis 9.3 (2004): 207-17. Print.
  4. Davidson, Michael C.g., Nils Timo, and Ying Wang. “How Much Does Labour Turnover Cost?: A Case Study of Australian Four- and Five-star Hotels.” International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management 22.4 (2010): 451-66. Print.
  5. Hinkin, T. R., and J. B. Tracey. “The Cost of Turnover: Putting a Price on the Learning Curve.” Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly 41.3 (2000): 14-21. Print.