The implications for talent management are profound for the hospitality industry and the companies in it will find themselves significantly disrupted unless they can recruit, retain, nurture, develop and evolve their talent consistently. This is especially relevant as the new age customer and the new age employee are now very different to how they were ten years ago and understanding one is key to serving the other better.

For the 2015 Luxury Global Hospitality CEO Perception & Analysis Report on talent management and the disruption, in association with the World Tourism Forum Lucerne, Bridge.Over Group interviewed 50 Hotel CEOs and top management executives in the luxury hospitality industry across the globe, to get an insight into how to manage and develop talent in a rapidly changing world. The study focusses on how the new work force has up to 70% millennials or generation Y and how the priorities, ambition and expectation of this workforce is different and needs to be addressed to stay relevant by hotel companies.
There is unanimous agreement across the Hotel CEO’s that the younger and future generations have value to add to our business in different ways and an open conversation amongst various stakeholders is what can keep the companies ahead of the curve. The research highlighted six most important priority areas that CEO’s believe matter most for the young generation.

The young talent have a need for speed when it comes to their careers

The hospitality industry suffers from a negative perception that career progression can be tedious, slow and working hours too long. This conflicts directly with the ambition of the new generation who need dynamism in their careers. If companies cannot provide a robust career path the young talent are not going to stick around as they don’t want to feel underutilised. The reason hotel graduates don’t necessarily join the industry is because not many companies allow them to implement their learning at school on a job in a junior management position with a clear path to senior management. Hence, risk taking has to become a far greater part of how companies manage talent and there needs to be career progression that is far quicker to retain this talent.

The millennials are in search of a wholesome work life experience

The millennials and generation Y do not equate having a job with having a life. They don’t want a job for a life time anymore; they want valuable life time experiences and they want to balance all aspects of life. They cherish employers who help them grow, and take time to understand them and their dreams. The new generation owing to their impatience to increase their experiences also do not hesitate to consider disjointed or disconnected “next steps” as a learning path that often looks very different from a typical career path.

The generation Y needs to feel valued and recognised to stick to their jobs

A conversation with the generation Y today can’t be a generic conversation. They are global, well-travelled and need to respect their supervisor to stay on a job. And they only stay in places where they feel they are able to contribute and when they do, they want instant recognition of their efforts for work well done. Empowerment, ability to assume responsibility and flexibility in the opportunities to grow based on their preference and specialisation is what gets their attention. Any company that can help them be the best in what they want to be excites them. The young today need the opportunity to impact change, be involved, leave their own personality and have a certain work-life balance. And employers have to address these requisites to stay relevant and generate loyalty.

It is not all about the money for the young generation

Jobs that are neither well paid, nor a source of creativity, are obviously no longer esteemed by the wider culture of generation Y or millennials. Young people – rightly or wrongly have the expectation of being well off. They will question the hours, they will question the pay and this is a fact of life which will not change. We also need to review long term pay trends in the industry – especially for the right candidate. However, paying more for the young would just be a start. In view of the limitations of the industry, 86% CEO’s believe that intangible factors can prove to just a strong a motivator as tangible benefits of pay

Constant feedback and appreciation is a pre-requisite

Generation Y stands for greater need of personal care and development – they need to feel that they have an input into the businesses and that their voices are being heard. Priority areas for the way any business manages the younger generation, therefore, evolve around the understanding that no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach can last in any organization, but rather a greater need to work with the individual. Regular communication with employees and coming together to celebrate shared successes are just some of the ways in which a company can foster an environment that places greater emphasis on the needs of the individual. A yearly feedback and appraisal system is simply not good enough in today’s world – it has to be constant and consistent.

Social conscience is very important for the Generation Y

Generation Y is certainly more sensitive and have a deeper social conscience. As a group, this next generation appears to have a broader global perspective and is more value-centred, particularly about giving back to their communities or being associated with Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. A rewarding feeling of giving back is just as important to them as recognition for good performance.


An enlightened, modern, flexible approach is necessary to continue to attract young people to the industry. The CEO’s believe that the values, expectations and life style priorities of the young have to be embraced and employers have to integrate a lot more with this generation to understand what really ticks their boxes. Proactive solutions that were highlighted in the interviews to manage the young talent better include the following:
Foster diversity at all levels: One of the core obligations as CEO is to hire the finest people and that means not just looking at within the industry. A good talent strategy has to be based on customisation and innovation –more and more hotel companies need to look and perhaps find talent from other disciplines as long as they understand good hospitality practices.
Profile the industry image better: Career growth potential can in fact be very fast and enormous for the young who are good and focussed in the industry. However an effort needs to be made to present an updated and more nuanced image of the industry which needs to include differentiating between marketing blurb and reality. The generation Y and millennials want a brand that represents what they aspire to be. The young won’t leave companies if the brand engages them. Hence targeted employer branding is critical.
Make the industry financially attractive: Most companies have a remuneration package that is base salary driven. There is a critical need for companies to keep the critical talent pool growing – not necessarily through or only through salaries, but through experience, responsibility and other intangibles. Talent management is definitely a core obligation for a CEO, but it is equally everyone’s responsibility to contribute in this regard. Hence, at all levels people should assume that responsibility and the key is to make people realise that if you want to progress you need to make people in your business progress.
Customised and fast track career plan: Generation Y needs variety – to keep the interest levels high, the key is to allow the young to personalise their experience and choose what excites them. It is important for them to have individual development goals than to have established traditional development stages. The Millennials need establishing clear development plans and career paths. Organisations have to continue identifying, acknowledging and rewarding especially the high achievers that contribute significantly more than others.
Make talent management a core part of the strategy: Talent management practices in hotel industry are in a nascent stage. By developing the right kind of talent management practices, one could make younger talent join the industry and stay with it. Solid recruitment, interventions related to work life balance, joy at the workplace and in life, allowing an employee to find his/her natural talent and developing it, deliberate exit interviews etc. would make the industry much more attractive for younger generation.
Young generation have different demands – they want managers they can respect and they also expect clear leadership paths and roles of the manager. They also need constant feedback and clarity in communication. This requires that the industry needs to be more focussed if we have to successfully encourage employees to stay and build their careers in the industry.

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