Benefit, Wage Increases Also Key in War for Talent
The U.S. hotel industry has been struggling with its labor shortage since before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting drop in and outsized recovery of demand has only exacerbated the problem.
The competition for employees, both within the industry and from other sectors, is driving hotel operators to experiment with pay, schedules and benefits in the hopes of attracting and holding on to talent.
Aimbridge Hospitality’s approach has been to bring the perks of gig work in-house, said Ann Christenson, executive vice president and chief human resources officer. All Aimbridge employees, both part-time and full-time, those on property and in corporate offices, can request early access to their earned pay. Hotel associates also have the option of picking up shifts at nearby Aimbridge properties.
The “gig pay” option allows all employees to request up to 50% of their earned hours in their wages anytime during that pay period, she said. The company partnered with a financial-wellness platform to make it easy for employees to request early access to their wages through an app with no required approval from a manager.
“Americans are stressed financially, and people are spending up to $10 billion in late fees and having payday loans,” she said. “We wanted to have a vehicle where employees who might have some of that financial stress in their lives to try to ease that.”
Current employees have responded positively to the early access to wages, she said. There has also been a lot of interest from potential hires as well.
With Aimbridge’s scale, particularly within the U.S., its density within markets opens up opportunities for hotel associates to pick up shifts at nearby hotels, Christenson said. While this has been available to associates before, it’s been a manual process, and the company is looking to automate the process to make it easier for staff to pick up shifts at different hotels through an app.
“Everybody’s looking for workers,” she said. “It’s not like there’s a surplus of workers, but within our density in the market, there might be an opportunity to share workers across hotels.”
This allows general managers to share workers among properties while also letting individuals who have the time and interest to pick up hours or overtime, she said. That opens them up to opportunities at new properties, as well. The staff member could be a part-time associate at one hotel with the capacity for additional hours or a full-time employee who wants extra shifts to pay for college or earn more for their family.
The vision for this program is that it builds on employees’ training and background, so the shift their picking up at a different hotel might not necessarily be the same position they have at their original property, she said.
“It’s not just tied to what they’re doing today, but it’s tied to their capabilities and their experiences,” she said.
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