Housekeeping Week 2021 from Hospitality Staffing Solutions
HSS is the largest national staffing provider focused on the hospitality industry. And, as a KBS company, we are part of the largest privately held facility services provider in North America. And so it’s understandable that the 40th annual International Housekeepers and Environmental Service Week is a big deal for our organization. HSS has been celebrating with our housekeeping teams at hotels, resorts, and casinos in over 40 States and over 100 markets across the U.S.
Housekeeping Week Across All HSS Branches
Here are some highlights from HSS staff thanking the thousands of housekeeping professionals who have been an integral part of the hospitality industry. Through good times and bad, hotel housekeeping teams have ensured that hotels, resorts, and casinos are safe, clean, and a second home to guests. You can also view a playlist of all the complete HSS Happy Housekeeping Week Videos as well.
Maintaining Housekeeping Staff Throughout the Pandemic
It’s important to note, that HSS is able to maintain a pool of housekeeping staff by continuously recruiting and remaining in touch with the needs of those building a career in hospitality. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to maintain employment for many workers by finding them jobs within the network of clients outside the hospitality industry through our parent company KBS. Serving as essential workers in pharmacies, fulfillment centers, senior living facilities, and manufacturing plants, HSS was able to supply these industries with needed workers while maintaining relationships with hospitality employees.
Among findings about the deep impact that the pandemic had on hospitality workers, the survey also shows that hospitality workers strongly align their career aspirations with the hotel industry and valued returning to work:
87% of respondents said they would like to return to work in a hotel or resort
81% said they would feel safe returning to work in a hotel
91% said that they have received adequate training to work safely.
90% said they have the supplies needed to perform their jobs safely and effectively
HSS worked with with ClearlyRated to compile the data for this study. ClearlyRated (formerly known as Inavero) administers more staffing agency client and talent satisfaction surveys than any other firm in the world, reporting on more than 1.2 million satisfaction surveys from staffing agency clients and job seekers each year.
Building A Career Through Hotel Housekeeping
Celebrating Housekeeping Week each year is really an extension of the work that HSS teams perform every day. We view housekeeping as a skilled profession and a career that many of our own teams participate in every day. Housekeeping jobs from entry level to management are a viable and strong career path for many people and HSS has encouraged the advancement of housekeeping staff within its clients organizations and within its own. Here is a quote from one of our thousands of housekeepers:
HSS opened opportunities for me. It was a job that really gave me stability. They’ve given me respect and understanding. I love working for this company. All the people who work here open their hands and hearts. I’m really pleased to be here and I want to grow with HSS.
They have focused on keeping employees growing by motivating them, following up and driving them. Employees work together with HSS and always get a helping hand. You feel supported when you can talk to any representative and they are there to listen to you.
Thanks again for a great Housekeeping Week 2021 from the entire team at HSS and KBS!
Running September 12-18 this year, the week recognizes their hard-work and expertise that form he backbone of this industry. In the words of the event organizers Indoor Environmental Healthcare and Hospitality Association:
“During a global pandemic, we have seen these unsung heroes on the front lines to keep facilities clean and safe for those who work, visit, live and play there.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Special recognition ceremonies, employee picnics, ice cream socials, and other activities are among the wide range of events planned across the week.
To learn more about how HSS and our clients salute the frontline staff, enjoy our new Hospitality Solutions Video Podcast dedicated to International Housekeepers and Environmental Service Week. The discussion features Tim McPherson, President, HSS and Karla Dougherty, SVP of Strategic Accounts at HSS.
As McPherson notes:
“Personally, I can’t thank our teams enough for what they do every day. Our reputation is proved every day by their work and, on behalf of the entire company, I sincerely appreciate their efforts.”
How Aimbridge Hospitality is Meeting Staffing Challenges During a Critical Time for the Industry
Challenge: Addressing Labor Shortages During Pandemic Recovery
The hospitality industry faced a year unlike any other. The rapid drop in occupancy rates during the COVID-19 era led to hotel closures or limited operations, and industry-wide layoffs. Now, with a dramatic upswing in leisure and business travelers across the United States, hotels are challenged to meet housekeeping and other staffing demands in tight labor markets.
Aimbridge Hospitality, a leading, multinational hotel management company, faces these challenges on a national scale throughout its more than 1,100 properties across the United States. To do so requires a number of strategies, including collaborating with an ally and staffing partner with national reach, hospitality-industry expertise, and scalable, innovative solutions to meet this mega-critical moment.
Solution: National Outsourcing Partner with Industry Expertise
Aimbridge deepened its partnership with Hospitality Staffing Solutions, the hospitality division of KBS, to help hotels nimbly and profitably meet their housekeeping challenges. Hospitality Staffing Solutions (HSS) is the largest staffing and services provider to the hospitality industry in the United States with 90+ offices in major markets across the continental United States and Puerto Rico. Its parent company, KBS Services, is the largest privately-held essential facility services provider in North America with a broad portfolio in hospitality, retail, logistics, and business and industry.
The HSS strategy for Aimbridge is based upon three central pillars: Strategic Partnership; Nationwide Reach; and Safety, Quality and Compliance.
From Vendor to Strategic Partner Prior to COVID-19, HSS and Aimbridge enjoyed a productive and traditional vendor relationship with HSS providing necessary staffing on an as-needed basis. The challenges of reopening and recovery demanded a new strategic partnership.
The strategic partnership is centered on a Strategic Account Management (SAM) program. This new program connects a specialized HSS team with senior Aimbridge executives to solve problems upstream and tailor solutions to meet the need. Daily meetings are now augmented by a new online-ordering staffing system that allows for real-time delivery based on a hotel’s location and specific staffing needs. This strategic team can centrally monitor and manage staffing across the Aimbridge nationwide footprint, and word to implement solutions as well as plan for the future.
Nationwide Reach With hundreds of Aimbridge-managed hotels across the nation, HSS is the partner that is local everywhere in order to meet staffing needs across the country. HSS provides staffing services leveraging its network of branch offices. The company possesses a decades-long understanding of local labor markets and the available talent pools within each of them. Aimbridge delivers the staff required where and when it is most needed.
In addition, HSS understands where the local workforce cannot meet the needs of a particular hotel or property. To that end, the company developed mobile teams, an innovation in hospitality housekeeping. Mobile teams of room attendants travel to and service a different hotel every three weeks where labor shortages stubbornly persist. This allows properties to maintain high standards amidst spikes in bookings. Safety, Quality and Compliance
Guest satisfaction and quality scores are more important to Aimbridge now, more than ever, with returning guests looking for extra safety and cleaning protocols provided by vetted and professional staffers. HSS focuses on recruiting the best possible candidates for housekeeping and other staff through its national recruiting branch network. The HSS safety team provides regular training for a host of safety protocols outside of COVID-19. The team members also trained under Aimbridge’s AIMClean Training Program, which includes rigorous protocols in the proper use of EPA-approved products. Compliance provides an additional level of guest safety and hotel brand protection. All HSS staff are vetted for identification verification employment authorization, undergo drug screening, and background checks.
Results: Scalable and Reliable Staff Nationwide
In an industry facing significant staffing challenges, Aimbridge hotels are more than meeting the mark. In the near term, thanks to its strategic partnership with HSS, this amounts to more than 1,500 high-quality, AIMClean-certified housekeeping staffers at a total of 224 properties. While keeping guests satisfied and hotels profitable right now, in the mid to long-term, Aimbridge now has a scalable solution nationwide so that its properties have a reliable pool of qualified staff from a high-quality and compliant source. Evolution: Bundled Facility Service
As the hospitality industry continues to recover, it will require more than expert housekeeping services to keep it profitable. Thanks to the breadth and depth of HSS parent company KBS, bundled facility services have been added to the mix. For example, Aimbridge recently began bundling snow removal and landscaping services across its properties. The companies are examining other facility service offerings that can help Aimbridge properties address staffing challenges, manage costs centrally and, overall, raise standards and lower costs.
We sat down with Karla Dougherty, SVP of Strategic Accounts at HSS to get her expert take on what she’s hearing from clients and how HSS is serving their evolving needs during this uncertain recovery period.
Highlight: Flexibility in the Hospitality Industry is Vital During COVID Recovery
One thing that I see as a common theme from our clients is that they know that this period is not over. So, everybody’s sure that uncertainty, unfortunately, is something that we will have to continue to deal with moving forward. But what we are seeing more consistent is from them a shift in being more open and more flexible. And those that are actually making that shift quicker and faster, we see that they are able to solve some of the problems or at least talking about them with us. There is not a quick solution for anything. But we do see that trend, if you will, within some of our markets more than others.
With the changes that we’ve had within the last year, we’ve seen some of our partners be more open to the idea to become flexible in the shift that we’re going to offer to our associates, or they’re going to be more flexible in the protocols that they need to be applying when they’re being onboarded or cleaning the hotel rooms. And indeed, the adjustment that we had to had in terms of the mindset with the labor pools, with compensation. So, we do have some clients that are very in sync with what is happening in the market, very understanding, and who are working with us to be flexible and ahead of the curve, if you will, with the wages and the compensations. And we’ve seen some of them that are still having a little bit of a resistance to it. And obviously those, you know, get on board later on. It just takes them a little bit of more time. So, the key right now that we’ve seen is that flexibility when it comes to what’s happening locally in that market and when having to change the logic that we had six months ago.
Highlight: We Never Stopped Recruiting
[HSS is] working with our current partners to be more flexible in the ways that we are recruiting, to still have a very good grassroots recruiting in each of the markets, to improve the communication with the candidate pool, to ensure that we’re not only telling them that wages are going to be different but also that the flexibility is going to be there, and also to ensure that we make these new roles or these roles that we’re offering in hospitality attractive for them and that they are still very mindful of the workload that they will have to have when they join the hotels. So, having those conversations and still being strategic about that. As a company, we never stop recruiting, not even during the pandemic, which I think has been a competitive edge for HSS because we were able to see firsthand some of that shifting the pools from the hotels to other industries. So that actually has helped us to inform and educate our clients of those trends and then have some collaborative approach on how do we bring back some of those associates to the hospitality industry.
Highlight: Trends Beyond COVID
One of them is related to changes in assets from one management company to the other. So we’ve seen a lot of merging from companies and acquisitions within different portfolios. And with that, it has come also a big awareness at the level of the decision making for new services.
The Full Conversation
James Krouse [00:00:05] Hi, my name is James Krouse, I’m the senior vice president of marketing at Hospitality Staffing Solutions or HSS, a KBS company. Hosting the HSS Hospitality Trends podcast together with Carla Dougherty, who is the SVP of Strategic Accounts at HSS. Today we’re going to be talking about trends and strategies in the hospitality industry moving ahead. Karla, welcome.
Karla Dougherty [00:00:35] Thanks, James.
James Krouse [00:00:37] So first, Karla, can you just describe your role at HSS and also the SAM program overall and how that works?
Karla Dougherty [00:00:47] Sure, our SAM program is part of an alignment strategy that we had as a company after being acquired early last year by KBS. And the main goal of the program is to ensure that we can provide support to our nationwide customers and ensure that we are acting more as a strategic partner for them and adding value based on the services that we currently offer by keeping them informed not only on that, but also on the trends that are happening within the services that we provide.
James Krouse [00:01:21] And, you know, in that role of working strategically with clients, I’m sure that you are involved in discussions and have insight into how hospitality leaders are really dealing with this recovery period that we’re in right now in hospitality and in the economy overall.
Karla Dougherty [00:01:41] Yes, absolutely, and to say that changes happened very quickly is an understatement. So currently, the way that we have seen some of the leaders in the industry acting is by being very open to what is going on, changing not only their standards and protocols and how they do business right now within the industry, but also partnering with us in new ways, venues and ideas to be able to help them with the resources that they need, which in this case, you know, staffing being one of the most critical.
James Krouse [00:02:16] And what about the uncertainty of the period that we’re in right now? How are your clients dealing with that? And do you have any insight into how to deal with that uncertainty?
Karla Dougherty [00:02:28] Yes. And will it have been different for everybody, James. Obviously, we’ve seen some companies that have taken a little bit longer to realize the quick changes that we’re witnessing in the industry. And again, it has been very challenging for everybody. But for the most part, the one thing that I see as a common theme from our clients is that they know that this period is not over. So, everybody’s sure that uncertainty, unfortunately, is something that we will have to continue to deal with moving forward. But what we are seeing more consistent is from them a shift in being more open and more flexible. And those that are actually making that shift quicker and faster, we see that they are able to solve some of the problems or at least talking about them with us. There is not a quick solution for anything. But we do see that trend, if you will, within some of our markets more than others.
James Krouse [00:03:33] Could you just elaborate on when you say quicker and more flexible? Are there some examples you can give?
Karla Dougherty [00:03:38] Yeah, absolutely. So, for instance, we all know that the hospitality industry was very set in its ways in the days prior to the pandemic – from the cleaning protocols to the way that we would recruit and hire and onboard. With the changes that we’ve had within the last year, we’ve seen some of our partners be more open to the idea to become flexible in the shift that we’re going to offer to our associates, or they’re going to be more flexible in the protocols that they need to be applying when they’re being onboarded or cleaning the hotel rooms. And indeed, the adjustment that we had to had in terms of the mindset with the labor pools, with compensation. So, we do have some clients that are very in sync with what is happening in the market, very understanding, and who are working with us to be flexible and ahead of the curve, if you will, with the wages and the compensations. And we’ve seen some of them that are still having a little bit of a resistance to it. And obviously those, you know, get on board later on. It just takes them a little bit of more time. So, the key right now that we’ve seen is that flexibility when it comes to what’s happening locally in that market and when having to change the logic that we had six months ago.
James Krouse [00:05:00] Well, let’s talk a little bit about the current labor situation, because that’s on everyone’s mind right now. What are some strategies that are working in the hospitality industry in tackling the labor shortage that we are facing right now?
Karla Dougherty [00:05:18] Absolutely. Well, let’s start with there’s no magic pill to fix this situation. But with that said, we are working with our current partners to be more flexible in the ways that we are recruiting, to still have a very good grassroots recruiting in each of the markets, to improve the communication with the candidate pool, to ensure that we’re not only telling them that wages are going to be different but also that the flexibility is going to be there, and also to ensure that we make these new roles or these roles that we’re offering in hospitality attractive for them and that they are still very mindful of the workload that they will have to have when they join the hotels. So, having those conversations and still being strategic about that. As a company, we never stop recruiting, not even during the pandemic, which I think has been a competitive edge for HSS because we were able to see firsthand some of that shifting the pools from the hotels to other industries. So that actually has helped us to inform and educate our clients of those trends and then have some collaborative approach on how do we bring back some of those associates to the hospitality industry.
James Krouse [00:06:40] And I know it’s hard to get to look beyond the pandemic, but I wondered if you’re seeing in your conversations with clients longer term trends that that are impacting hospitality good and bad.
Karla Dougherty [00:06:58] Yes, we’ve seen some of these trends. For instance, one of them is related to changes in assets from one management company to the other. So we’ve seen a lot of merging from companies and acquisitions within different portfolios. And with that, it has come also a big awareness at the level of the decision making for new services. In the past, we did notice that general managers at a proper level will have the buying decision. But right now, because of the costs associated with it and obviously the financial stress that the industry has, we see more involvement of their management company, their corporate offices, and indeed the ownerships in the decision process. So in the end, we do see that little by little there will be more opportunities for consolidation of some of these vendors or strategic partners, especially at a nationwide perspective, because they are looking more at the opportunities of having a better deal or improving their service quality and their standards and probably lower their cost. We are having these open conversations with them in order to help them where they need suport.
James Krouse [00:08:15] And that ties into HSS now being a KBS company. You mentioned that at the at the top. You want to just talk a little bit about that acquisition and also the benefits that it’s bringing to a lot of HSS clients.
Karla Dougherty [00:08:33] Yes, absolutely. So for instance, as part of our offer, SAM program last year I mentioned after the acquisition – our company has been very well known for thirty five plus years as a leader in the industry on the staffing side, as we have specialized mostly in that vertical, but with the acquisition of our company, now we have additional services that are critical as well for the facility management of the hotel and their operations. So now, instead of just being one of these two strategic partners for our clients, where we can offer only the labor force, the staffing side, we’re able to bundle some additional services that are also alleviating some of that shortage. For instance, of janitorial services, cleaning their kitchen and their public areas, their restaurants, as they are being open and back online, as well as some of the services involving the maintenance of the exterior, anything from their landscaping of the property, which again, taking consideration that some properties were close for a long time. So, getting these back online is attractive for their guests or keeping that in good shape as well as the parking lot maintenance or even the snow removal services in season.
James Krouse [00:09:51] Great. Well, Karla, that’s all the time we have. I’m sure we’re going to be talking again soon. I’m James Krouse with Hospitality Staffing Solutions. We’ve been talking to Carla Dougherty, who is the SVP of the Strategic Account Program there at HSS. And this has been the Hospitality Trends podcast. Thanks for watching and listening.
As the hospitality industry continues to recover from the effects of the pandemic, recruiting candidates to fill open roles remains a top focus for many venues.
In early June, of the eight million available jobs in the U.S., one million hospitality jobs were open, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Often, hospitality venues struggle to find enough workers to fill their labor needs. However, there are some strategies they can employ to address this critical issue.
Here, we offer five recruiting strategies for hospitality employers to try:
One factor that can boost a venue’s recruiting efforts is frequency. If a hiring organization is constantly stopping and starting to hire enough staff, that may hurt its ability to find – and keep – a skilled staff.
Instead, recruitment efforts that are continuous help establish an employer within the community. Given the rate of turnover some venues face, this approach can help meet the constant need to find and hire suitable candidates.
By getting involved in community groups, a hiring organization can uncover potential job recruits and even potentially get to know them in a more relaxed environment.
Building trust can help attract strong candidates who may tend to be more loyal once they’re hired. Groups to explore include chambers of commerce and professional associations.
Social Media Engagement
It’s probably a given that most hospitality venues maintain a social media presence. But – if you’re simply posting – and failing to engage – your efforts there may fail to boost your hiring campaigns.
Posting consistently IS important but engaging with those who comment and share your posts is of equal significance. Be sure to respond if someone comments on your post. If they share it, thank them.
If you’re able to build a social media following of engaged members, your presence there can lead to a pool of potential candidates who may be primed and ready when you’re looking to fill roles within your business.
What is digital engagement? It includes all the methods your customers can interact with your organization online – so consider your web site, email, and social media.
Your web site should include job postings and a way to apply – or information on how to get in touch to apply. If you send out regular emails to your mailing list (perhaps you send a newsletter or other email campaigns), you can also include open job listings there.
Have you overlooked one of the most vital sources of potential candidates? Referrals from your existing workers can be a source of strong applicants. Working where friends, neighbors or relatives already work can be an attractive prospect for many job seekers. And, if those they know who already work for your business have positive things to say about it, the trust that can create can be a draw, even for those who may be resistant to take a chance on a new role.
Consider starting an employee referral program, offering incentives to those who refer a candidate who is then hired. This may motivate current staff to recommend those they know. In addition, candidates who come through referral are more engaged, more productive and less likely to leave.
Supplementing Permanent Staff
Some organizations look at temporary staffing as a quick or emergency fix. In fact, many hotel properties work with staffing agencies to bolster their existing staff. This approach helps reduce the workload while also giving you another pool of talent to work with as demand ebbs and flows.
Factor Recruitment Strategies Into Your Hiring Plans
As hospitality venues move forward, recruitment efforts will play a major role in their success. Be sure to factor these strategies into your hiring plans and programs to achieve your recruitment goals.