Can upskilling help improve staff retention in the hospitality industry?

25th March 2019
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Low staff retention rates in the hospitality sector is an issue that needs to be addressed. In this article, we look at upskilling and whether teaching hospitality staff additional skills can lead to increased job commitment.

There are a variety of strategies that can be used to address staff retention rates in hospitality:

  1. Appealing to the government to help impose less intrusive working hours for staff.
  2. Companies could introduce a variety of benefit schemes and packages for employees.
  3. Companies could create programs to help staff manage the lifestyle that comes with working in hospitality.

There are several approaches that can be taken, but for now, let's focus on upskilling as a retention strategy.

What is upskilling?

Upskilling is the process of improving the skills of your workforce; it can be done in a variety of ways and at different levels. For example, at a higher cost, a company can help sponsor employees who wish to gain a qualification, as seen in the case of Chick-fil-A's in-house scholarship program. Another way, that would cost a lot less is through mentoring and shadowing - This method allows employees to learn from senior members of staff and add to their existing skill set.

How can upskilling encourage staff to stay in a job?

Upskilling done right can be a key tool to help employees stay motivated and increase their job satisfaction. It is often assumed that a significant reason for employees to search for a new job is money, however, according to, only 12% of employees actually leave their job because of money. The same can't be said for upskilling - According to Robert Half, a strong learning culture led to 30-50% high retention rates in companies.

Along with a good salary and a positive company culture, staff want to feel they are developing in their role; they don't want to feel stuck. By giving them job flexibility through providing an opportunity to try and learn different things in their role, it creates a sense of job fulfilment. The great thing about this is that it's not only the employees that benefit but also the employers. Fulfilled staff can translate to a better customer experience and saving costs needed to start an external recruitment process, which are both beneficial to the business.

Upskilling can be both expensive and inexpensive depending on the approach you take. The fears of upskilling come from the idea that once trained, employees with seek higher paying jobs. However, there's evidence that proves otherwise; case-in-point, Chick-fil-A's in-house scholarship program. The American restaurant have pumped up to $15.3 million in upskilling their worker force. The results from their survey show: 90% of scholarship recipients intended to keep working at Chick-fil-A. They could still look for jobs away from the restaurant but the results from the survey are promising and add to the argument in favour of upskilling as a retention strategy.

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