How hospitality employers can boost productivity through L&D pt2

Martin-Christian Kent concludes his piece on L&D as the solution to a more productive hospitality industry.

In many instances, employers acknowledge that managers have been promoted without the necessary development and support, so in some cases lack the relevant skills and experience to manage, motivate and retain staff.

As a result, managers have become a key learning and development focus. The aim is to help them become better people managers and give them the skills and confidence to address individual team needs. 

This is reflected in programmes to help develop specific skills and behaviours around communicating and working more effectively, such as managing organisational politics, managing different behaviours and styles for different stakeholders, clients, senior people and peers.

As one interviewee put it, “We are really changing the mind-set from “If you have got a problem with your employees, go see HR”, to “Let’s just make sure, as a leader, we don’t have those problems to start with.””

This emphasis on retention as a key building block in improving productivity has resulted in greater focus on recruiting staff who are more likely to stay with their business as well as strengthening the experience for new members of staff. Many employers are looking at improving the structure and content of their induction, as well as the training and support new recruits receive.

the focus on retention is linking it more firmly to performance management and career progression as a way to enhance and boost productivity.

The introduction of the apprenticeship levy has also had an impact on L&D, with many businesses looking afresh at their training and how apprenticeships interact with that training. As a result, the majority of businesses we interviewed are doing two things.

First, they are integrating apprenticeships into their talent management strategy, rather than seeing it as a ‘bolt on’ to their training framework; and second, apprenticeships are increasingly been used as a means to help retention and support progression, particularly at management level, rather than being a recruitment tool or entry-level programme.

This more strategic approach to the training and development of apprentices will in turn lower turnover and optimise productivity.

To manage individual learning and development, the large employers we spoke to are increasingly rolling out learning management systems. Given the link to performance management, businesses make use of these systems in different ways, but a common concern is making sure that staff are being given training for the right reasons.

When it comes to learning and development budgets in hospitality and tourism, these have historically been skewed towards programme-led induction training – often involving significant use of elearning – to support the constant recruitment necessary to fuel high labour turnover.

Some businesses adopted elearning because it is perceived as being cheaper, rather than because it is more effective. The feedback from the research is that many L&D professionals are concerned that there needs to be a better balance between elearning and more traditional training.

Finally, the research identified three broad typologies that help classify HR teams’ thinking and approaches in large hospitality and tourism businesses. These are ‘architects’, ‘interior designers’ and ‘builders’.

In relation to learning and development, businesses tend to reflect the following dominant characteristics of one of these typologies, even though they might be doing specific activities which would be typically found in another.

These typologies also reflect the journey that many HR teams are consciously or subconsciously working towards. For example, whilst some teams recognise that they are currently builders, they are working towards becoming interior designers and architects.

Other HR teams talked about issues that would fall into the architect category, but, given a lack of senior support or resources, they are undertaking activities that would typically be done by builders.

In summary, learning and development continues to be seen as the jewel in the crown for many HR teams. Now however, the focus on retention is linking it more firmly to performance management and career progression as a way to enhance and boost productivity.

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About the author

Martin-Christian Kent is executive director, People 1st. To download a free copy of the research report visit:


You can read part one here


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