President of the Bradford Dalton Group, Jeff is a former journalist with 30+ years of experience as a public relations professional.
One of the biggest business stories of 2021 is the U.S. labor shortage, which is especially prevalent in the leisure and hospitality industry. Experts have pointed to a number of reasons for the shortage, including lack of childcare, fear of Covid-19 and enhanced unemployment benefits.
So, if you own a restaurant, hotel or other hospitality business, what can you do, from a public relations standpoint, to attract workers? One possible solution is to tap into people’s emotions about working in the industry. Here are some suggestions based on my 35 years in the PR business, which includes 21 years running a PR agency that has represented several hospitality businesses.
Make Your Employees Feel Special
Treat them especially well. Compliment them on their work. Put up a bulletin board in the break room and post notes on it about how specific employees have gone the second mile to make customers happy. Compliment a server in front of a table they are waiting on. Compliment housekeeping staff in front of hotel guests. When people feel valued, they tell their friends why they’re happy. Maybe their friends will begin to think that working for you would be a good idea.
Tell The World How Special Your Employees Are
Buy a series of small ads in your local newspaper to laud your employees. Be specific in the ad about what the employee did that was so special so it does not look like a typical, uninspired employee of the month program. Run these ads sporadically, as things happen to celebrate. And be sure to include the employee’s photo. A second-mile effort like this will get tongues wagging — and you can be sure the featured employee will point out the ad to their friends.
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Give Your Employees Attractive Swag With Your Logo On It
Spend some money on a nice backpack, windbreaker or hoodie with your logo on it and give this cool swag to your employees. As they go about their life outside of work wearing your logo, they are silently telling others that they are proud to work for you — in addition to enhancing your name recognition wherever they go.
Pay Employees To Blog On Your Website
It’s unusual for a restaurant or hotel to have a blog on its website, and because it is out of the ordinary, it is more likely to be read. Pay employees to write for your blog about what it is like to work at your business. Select employees you know will be complimentary and reserve the right to edit what they write — but be judicious in how you use your editing prerogative, lest you turn a friend into an enemy.
Write Bylined Articles About Life In Your Industry
Pitch industry trade publications on providing them with a series of bylined articles about life in the hospitality industry. Be honest, but don’t be afraid to glamorize a bit to showcase the work as exciting and the working environment as welcoming. Quote employees and ex-employees about what they learned on the job and how it prepared them for success later in life. (For example, working in a restaurant taught me how to sell, which has proven to be a very valuable skill.)
If you can tap into the positive emotions that surround hospitality work and the sense of accomplishment it gives so many employees, you have a fighting chance to lure workers back to the industry.
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Author: Jeff Bradford, Forbes Councils Member