Talent retention: Mentoring the future generation

It’s a question that comes up time and again – how do we sustain a talent pipeline? Andrew Mosley gives the hospitality perspective. 

The one debate that seems to have been at the forefront of the hospitality industry throughout my management career of more than 20 years is: ‘How do we retain our top talent?’ There has always been a concern that we will see a ‘brain drain’ of our future leaders to other, more profitable, industries which are perceived to have a better work/life balance (with more out of work benefits attached).

It is a topic that is likely to become ever more pressing as we hurtle towards leaving the European Union. The British Hospitality Association has warned that the shortage of British workers in UK hotels and restaurants is so severe that some companies will need 10 years or more to replace all of their EU staff. Scary stuff for the UK’s hoteliers and restaurateurs.

There are welcome signs that the Government is listening to the needs of the hospitality industry with the newly announced ‘T-levels’ qualifications designed to provide practical, non-academic opportunities for future talent.

However, it is clear that we as an industry need to make a concerted effort. We need to engage with our current workforce and provide talented individuals from all levels and sectors with the opportunities to succeed, progress and become the leaders they aspire to be.

One important way that we, as business leaders, can do this is through mentoring – both informally and through structured programmes.

We need to engage with our current workforce and provide talented individuals from all levels and sectors with the opportunities to succeed, progress and become the leaders they aspire to be.

I have been incredibly fortunate to have received exceptional advice and wisdom throughout my career. There are a few significant characters that have guided me along the way, particularly in the early stages. 

During my time as a placement student at the Britannia Hotel in Manchester, the calm authority of Morag Kilpatrick, front of house manager was something that I admired and respected, not forgetting the legendary Bruno Lucchi, restaurant manager. His passion, impeccable standards, innate motivation to mentor and get the best out his staff was infectious. 

Ian Harkness, Managing Director at Shire Hotels, was a real influence; he helped to strategically guide my career, which played a genuine part in me achieving a senior general management position, within the company, aged just 28.

As a result of this I have always looked to ‘pay it back’ by taking opportunities to mentor new entrants in to the industry, current employees and also those that have moved on to pastures new.

Fast Forward 15 is an initiative which encourages and inspires women in the events and hospitality sector and provides applicants with the opportunity to be mentored, encouraged and advised by an industry expert for a period of one year, as well as becoming part of a wider community of successful women supporters.

A report by Dr Kate Dashper at Leeds Beckett University highlighted some key benefits from the mentoring scheme:

  • Mentees mentioned improved confidence as one of the major gains they had experienced as a result of their involvement in the programme.
  • Many identified the tools they had learnt on the programme, such as goal-setting, had helped to renew their focus on the industry and the opportunities available within it. 
  • The programme also helped them to establish a wider network that will last far beyond the scheme and will prove very useful throughout their careers. 

As someone who has benefitted from both sides of the coin, I would thoroughly recommend business leaders investing in these initiatives. While it is by no means a silver bullet, the value of mentoring cannot be underestimated in terms of retaining top talent within the hospitality industry.


About the author

Andrew Mosley is general manager of the Grand Hotel, Brighton.


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