Hiring hurdles: Overcoming recruitment fraud and fear in hospitality

It is often said that your staff are your greatest asset and nowhere is this truer than within the hospitality industry. Given that a vast majority of staff are client-facing and, in many cases, have cash handling responsibilities, getting hospitality hiring right is of critical importance to continued success.

As with many hospitality businesses, hotels are exposed to the rigours of high staff turnover. You compete for an international pool of talent and often have a relatively low proportion of management or ‘professional’ roles, meaning that finding the right people, within short deadlines, is perhaps the sector’s greatest challenge.

Juggling the need to just “get it done” and “do it well” can lead to a general, underlying sense of fear when it comes to recruitment in the hospitality industry, something people will all too often take advantage of.

Addressing the issues and recognising the solutions available is the first step to overcoming hiring hurdles.

The pitfalls tainting recruitment

These challenges of high turnover, dispersed talent and short deadlines, place the industry in a vulnerable position when it comes to potential recruitment risks. The constant pressure to find and attract people can leave the door ajar for process corner-cutting on the employer’s part, and offer candidates the opportunity to exploit gaps left by poorly managed recruitment.

The hospitality labour market also tends to be relatively liquid compared to other industries, with talent that rotates between employers regularly due to the volume of opportunities available. The vast variety of vacancies at any one time means staff are less inclined to show loyalty to one employer which can, in turn, also lead to a higher level of misconduct than is seen in other industries.

Added to sector-specific issues are the general recruitment shortcomings among UK employers. A recent study commissioned by Xref found that one in four (23.5%) UK candidates are not asked for a reference before starting a role. This is a startling figure, particularly in light of other findings of the study, including the fact that 29% of candidates admitted to deliberately lying to employers to improve their chances of landing a role.

Not having a suitable screening process in place, whereby every candidate is vetted using a consistent and secure approach, is leaving organisations open to risk. In terms of the hospitality industry, not only does this threaten the service your establishment offers clients, but it leaves no way of knowing if staff really have the skills or qualifications – such as the ServeWise certificate for bar staff – that they are claiming they have. Should something go wrong, your venue could end up in hot water with little in the way of an audit trail to demonstrate that an appropriate level of due diligence was done to ensure the suitability of an employee.

The introduction of HR tech solutions

In recent years the recruitment profession across all industries has been positively disrupted by the introduction of technology. With many sectors already benefiting from various vendors, now is the perfect time for hospitality HR professionals to learn from their counterparts in other sectors and embrace a more efficient, consistent and secure approach to recruitment.

Today, there are tech-based solutions available for every element of the recruitment process, from sourcing right through to onboarding. When considering where best to begin your HR tech journey, identifying the processes that lack the value they are intended to offer should be your starting point. Two elements of the recruitment process that commonly fall into this bracket are reference checking and interviewing.

Candidate reference checking is one of the most fundamental elements of the recruitment process; it is usually the final task to be conducted before an offer is made and is the only aspect of the whole recruitment journey that incorporates the input and validation of a third party.

A well-conducted reference is a goldmine. It can shine a light on a candidate’s capabilities, reliability, training requirements and any weaknesses they have before they even step through the door. In short, a thorough reference check can save time, money and prevent bad hires. However, archaic, inefficient processes turn a critical hiring task into a burden that causes delays in reaching a hiring decision.

Similarly, the interview process is often conducted as little more than a formality, rather than an opportunity understand a candidate through direct, face-to-face communication. Given the prevalence of a decentralised workforce in the UK, coupled with the vast geographic nature of many hospitality candidates, interviews can be a strain on resources, awkward to organise and subject to inconsistent, non-standardised processes. Much like reference checking, the interview process has fallen victim to a reliance on the status quo and a reluctance to adopt new, more efficient and insightful solutions.

A smarter approach to critical processes

Xref is a fully-automated, online candidate referencing solution. The platform supports organisations, big and small, globally and enables them to make faster, more confident hiring decisions, based on reliable, data-driven insights. Xref has already had great success in the UK hotel space, with clients such as The Dorchester Collection, Shangri-La Hotels and The Old Course – St Andrew’s, now benefitting from the process improvements offered.

Xref captures 60% more data than traditional reference checking methods and references are usually returned within 24-30 hours, resulting in a reduced time-to-hire and the assurance that the candidate is who they say they are, with written validation from a verified source.

Arguably the most valuable feature of the platform is the fraud detection algorithm which automatically flags any potential candidate fraud. The result of this is a more confident hiring process, and a huge reduction in the number of rehires organisations have to make due to poor hiring.

Another smart, tech-based solution is Sonru, an automated video interviewing tool, which allows the interviewer to set questions in advance and the candidate to read and record their answers in a virtual interview environment that replicates a Skype interview.

It is helping businesses improve their interviewing process by enabling them to offer a fair and consistent approach for every candidate and overcome any of the usual logistical or geographic issues. With questions set and delivered to the candidate, the risk of the any unintended discriminatory questions slipping into the interview, as may be seen in the traditionally conversational approach, is also eliminated.

The heightened importance of getting process right, now

From the outside looking in you’d be forgiven for assuming that both interviewing and reference checking would be straight-forward, after all they’ve been around since the dinosaurs as far as HR practices go.

However, beyond improved efficiencies and assurance, changing data handling regulations mean it’s become significantly more important to ensure you have robust business processes in place.

As a department handling a wealth of personal data, HR is sure to come under the spotlight when the impending GDPR legislation comes into effect on 25 May this year. And, with the hefty fines to be issued for any non-compliance, it has now become critically important to update your recruitment processes. If you are yet to consider the introduction of GDPR or would like an overview of the key steps to take in preparation for 25 May, Xref has compiled a checklist of seven critical questions you should be asking.

This article first appeared in the Febraury issue of Hotel Owner

Read more: hotelowner.co.uk

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