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Recruitment & retention – staff retention

From comprehensive inductions to creating a positive culture,
ensure you use all the tools to retain staff.

Staff Induction

It is vital to get any new employee off to a good start in their job and forms an essential part of staff recruitment and retention. A well planned induction will make an employee feel welcome in their new workplace and with new colleagues, while building commitment to the business and giving them the required knowledge to start doing their job effectively.

The induction process should start on the employees first day of work. Sending information to employees before they start will also be helpful, such as what to wear, travel, parking, working hours. You could consider preparing an information pack with an overview of the company, its history, culture and values. This will create a strong first impression and will reduce any anxiety the new member of staff will have about joining your business. Consider planning ahead and providing the new employee with:

  1. Induction Checklist
  2. Welcome Pack/Company Handbook
  3. Standard Operating Procedure

It is important that someone in the business is appointed to manage the induction process and that the new recruit knows who they can turn to if they have any questions or issues. Appointing a work ‘buddy’ can also be a good way to provide another support, offering time for an informal chat and helping with any concerns.

CPD Online provides further advice and a comprehensive list of items to consider when creating an induction process.

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Staff Retention

Once you have great staff in place, you will then want to keep them!  Staff retention is key to maintaining a high quality service and having experienced, skilled staff who are committed to the growth of your business.

Being clear about behaviours and values you want in your business will set the bar for the whole team. Remember that managers within your business may also have development needs. As leaders within your business, having skills to motivate and develop others will have a positive impact. Managers who can effectively provide feedback while coaching and developing they staff team will find that their working relationships will be better and will improve employee retention rates.

Where possible, offer flexible working arrangements. This will help employees with families or other caring commitments, or for employees who have interests outside of work and their employment does not then become a barrier to their life outwith work.

Creating a positive culture

Communication with staff is essential. This will allow the opportunity to gain feedback on business operations, suggestions of where things could be improved and to address any problems. Having  effective 2-way communication will allow staff to feel valued and encourage creative solutions while being motivated and happy while engaging with customers.  Your business can foster a positive culture through some of the following ideas:

  • Take time to listen to staff through 1-1 or personal development meetings with each staff member.
  • Consider establishing an employee forum to create a structure to listen to people in your business, or simply setting time aside to bring all staff together to meet at the same time.
  • Create opportunities for staff to develop and to see a clear progression within the business. Support opportunities for staff to gain experience through mentoring, coaching and external training.
  • Work with your local community. This is a great way to be part of developing your local destination, building collaborations and showcasing your business to your community as a good employer that local people will want to work for.
  • Investors In People – This provides businesses with a framework to implement best practice for recruitment, retention and development of the people working in your business.


Useful Links: For further information, see Scottish Enterprise’s ‘Improving your workplace’ which includes advice on funding, workshops, and tips on how to increase efficiencies and staff morale.

Food & Drink Scotland’s Recruitment & Retention Guide includes a helpful checklist to assess where improvements to making an attractive workplace can be improved.  This can be completed anonymously by staff members and as a self-assessment by management. This will produce a comparative score and model to identify where changes are needed the most.

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Staff Development

Ongoing development is important to retaining staff . For businesses in more remote locations, or where there is a shortage of experienced staff available, the need to develop people new to the sector and within the business will be critical.

It may be the case that not all staff are looking for promotion or to occupy leadership and managerial roles, however, everyone can develop further. Having close engagement to staff to understand their ambitions and steps needed to get there will give staff greater confidence to perform in their current role, a wider range of skills and experiences for and for those looking to rise through the ranks, the basis for them to be ready to step up when the opportunity arises.

This level of investment in staff will pay off in reducing staff turnover, absence and resulting in a higher quality performance of staff.

  • Training Records – Keeping an up to date record of employee’s training allows you to track their development requirements and ensure they stay in date with legal training requirements. This should include all in-house training and any external courses etc that the employee has attended.
  • Performance Appraisals – The purpose of Performance Appraisals is to provide employees with feedback in terms of what they are doing well, and areas that could be improved in relation to meeting the requirements of their job role and standards of performance. Performance appraisals, if done well, can improve employee motivation and productivity. The use of an appraisal template (link below) will support these conversations.

Creating personal development plans and reviewing these through an appraisal process can provide structure to the business’s approach to employee development.  Any plan should be created in discussion and agreed with each employee – not a plan that is enforced by management.

Delegating tasks can also be a good way to give staff more opportunities to learn and some greater responsibilities. These should be planned and sufficient training given on what is required for any delegated duties. While this will stretch the individual, they will feel rewarded when they learn something new and achieve results.

Mentoring within a business can also be effective. This could involve partnering an employee with another team member. This will encourage development for both the mentor and member of staff receiving mentoring support.

Explore opportunities for employees to achieve on their learning goals by using your business networks. Can staff learn more about local produce to develop their product knowledge? Are there ways for staff to learn more about the local area, history and attractions to better advise visitors for example? There is a wide range of e-learning courses and webinars many of which are free. Business Gateway and VisitScotland websites are good resources to keep a look out for any suitable training opportunities.

External training courses can also be effective, providing expert teaching and often creating an opportunity for the employee to learn from other participants with different perspectives while making industry connections.  Often a blended approach to staff development is an effective way forward providing a range of benefits as outlined above from the different development methods.

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Working Lives

Pay & Conditions

Hospitality and tourism is recognised as being a fun industry to be involved in and average wage levels have increased in recent years and look set to continue to do so. In a competitive employment market employers are increasingly seeking ways to offer fair and attractive terms to employees. While employers have basic legal responsibilities, it is worth considering the following:

The National Living Wage – is an obligatory minimum wage payable to workers in the United Kingdom aged 23 and over. This is set at a rate above the National Minimum Wage (the minimum hourly rate that an employer can pay, as set by the UK Government).  Although this may result in an increase in wage budgets, the savings made through lower recruitment turn-over, reduced absenteeism and better performance mean that paying the Living Wage can be an advantage to your business while demonstrating that you are taking responsible steps towards committing to your staff team.

The benefits of being accreditation – In a recent survey, 93% of businesses said being Living Wage accredited benefited their business. Key benefits include:

  • improvements in their reputation
  • improved recruitment and retention of staff
  • increased staff motivation
  • Payment of a real Living Wage allows workers to better meet their everyday needs and feel that their hard work is recognised by their employer.

Living Wage accreditation – this celebrates employers that choose to go further than the government minimum, by paying the real Living Wage to all relevant workers. Accreditation is the process where an employer applies for the licence rights to display the Living Wage employer mark. This mark is a recognised symbol of responsible business practice. It’s designed to help employers signal their support of the Living Wage movement to staff, stakeholders, and consumers. The link here provides full details.

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Fair Work

A practical Fair Work Employer assessment tool will help you understand and fully embed the dimensions of fair work and support your organisation to take positive step. Fair Work aims to balance the rights and responsibilities of employers and workers and generates mutual benefits for individuals, organisations and society, such as increased participation in work; improved productivity in the workplace; and wider distribution of wealth within local communities.

The items below can also benefit workplace health, well-being and retention.

Tipping and service charges – These can be an important income stream for many employees and it is imperative that a fair system is implemented to ensure all employees benefit from providing services to customers and that there should be no unnecessary deductions by employers. Many operators add a percentage service charge to the customer’s bill and this should be passed on to staff in full from the total amount paid by the customer.

Review Working Hours – Long and anti-social hours can be damaging and draining and increases the risk of developing or worsening existing mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress, as well as affecting our social life and sleeping pattern. Supporting staff to achieve a work-life balance (the idea that you have time for both work and other aspects of your life) will be an attractive aspect when recruiting new staff and in retaining workers in your business.  People will only want to work in the tourism and hospitality sector if it works for them and enabling staff to enjoy the great location that has attracted so many workers to the National Park, or for others to spend time with family and to fulfil other personal interests is of high importance.

Working Environment – creating a positive, healthy working environment can improve working conditions, requiring little financial outlay. Steps such as engaging with employees on ways of working and when making operational decisions makes staff feel included, are listened to, and have the chance to contribute to the success of the business. Showing recognition for good performance can boost confidence and improved performance. Highlighting good performance within your business and publicly can be a simple way to demonstrate how valued the effort and dedication of staff means.  The Hoteliers Charter offers a framework of commitment to providing a workplace environment built on the foundations of respect, fairness, equality, diversity and opportunity

Career Paths – while entry level wage rates in hospitality may be towards the lower end, the sector can offer much more rapid advancement than others. A clear progression will allow employees to develop their careers and social mobility while supporting business staff retention aims.

Incentives and rewards – there is more that can be done in addition to the above points. This includes considering support for staff through childcare, transport and the cost of accommodation. Additionally rewards for staff who demonstrate high levels of performance, or who go above and beyond to provide an excellent customer experience could receive a suitable rewarded. This to range from a highlighting their excellent work within the team and accompanied by a workplace accolade such as employee of the month. Reward could also come in the form of a bonus payment or gift voucher. Businesses can also use their contacts to enable a reciprocal reward scheme where employees can receive rewards in the form of free attraction entry, hotel stay or other day-out experiences within the destination.

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