How to effectively train hotel staff

Published: 20 September 2020 - 8 a.m.

Over the last few years, the GCC hospitality sector has been marked by monumental growth. Hailed as a source of much welcomed economic diversification in the region, new hotel and resort projects all across the GCC states have created tens of thousands of jobs. However, such rapid growth has not been without its challenges. The unprecedented expansion of these industries has resulted in a noticeable and dramatic shortage of talented employees, threatening to disrupt the operation of numerous businesses and firms. With recent growing interest from young and entry-level job seekers looking for exciting hospitality careers, the sector has a valuable opportunity to invest in these candidates to fulfil its own human capital needs. Numerous hotel chains have already jumped on the chance to secure their future talent requirements and have begun launching large-scale training and development schemes. Yet such extensive programmes require considerable resources, and the question of “how can I get the most out of my investment?” has become a core concern for many hotel managers.

A Research Team from the German University of Technology in Oman believes that they may have found the answer to this question. In their published study ‘An empirical examination of the antecedents of training transfer in hotels: the moderating role of supervisor support’ the multi-national team of Osman El-Said, Bashaer Al-Hajri and Michael Smith lay out the factors that determine how well an employee absorbs and applies their training. Insights from their investigation of 302 employees in 4- and 5-star hotels throughout Muscat City could be used to save hospitality firms from wasting substantial amounts of funds on inefficient training programmes.

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As the research team explains, the level of support that an employee feels they have from their company has a huge bearing on how motivated they are to learn new skills, in addition to their willingness to apply newly learned skills on the job. Likewise, employees who are more self-confident are also more motivated to learn new skills. Therefore, to achieve desirable results from training, it is absolutely crucial that hospitality firms devote the necessary persons and resources to making trainees feel well looked after, and to reassure them of their ability to succeed in learning new talents. The researchers recommend that managers organise support teams for trainees, consisting of various members in the hotel hierarchy, to review performance, encourage and reward employees during the training process.

But motivating trainees is only half the battle. The research team reveals how creating opportunities for trainees to use newly learned abilities is just as important as encouraging them to do so. The transfer climate of the hotel, being the attitudes and connections between hotel members that determines the level of access that employees have to opportunities and supporting materials, plays a decisive role here. To create a positive transfer climate, managers are advised to improve awareness, among middle and senior managers of the hotel, of the needs of employees and trainees. A creative way to accomplish this is to literally place managers in frontline positions for a few weeks every year to experience first-hand what the training needs are, what resources are lacking, and where opportunities can be increased.

It must also be appreciated that creating opportunities is useless if employees are not willing to take them. Accordingly, the research team highlights the importance of fostering accountability among trainees. This means making trainees responsible for achieving training goals and outcomes with thorough assessments of their performance. Also, the researchers draw attention to the important role that supervisors have in the training process. When trainees feel that their supervisors encourage them to do well, recognise their efforts and reward their achievements, they more successfully transfer their learned skills to their job tasks. Conversely, when trainees feel that they are not encouraged by their supervisors, they apply their new knowledge more poorly, regardless of their motivation or the availability of opportunities. Consequently, the research team suggests that hotel managers set up mentor-mentee relationships between trainees and supervisors as a part of any training programme. Finally, the outcomes of the study could also be very beneficial for hotels during the current period of COVID-19 crisis where employees are required to be trained for sanitation and hygiene programs to adapt to the new norms of the industry.

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