Our industry is in recovery mode and Meet Minneapolis continues to represent and advocate for our local travel/hospitality industry as we navigate our way through. One way we do this is by forming alliances with organizations that provide us with relevant research and resources. One such alliance is our elevated involvement with U.S. Travel, whose mission is to increase travel to and within the United States.
Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a U.S. Travel event. We heard presentations and had discussions on a variety of issues relating to our industry’s recovery and long-term growth. The issues ranged from marketing and sales to upgrading tourism infrastructure.
One major issue that emerged is workforce development and how our approach to it has been impacted by the pandemic. We know that nearly 40% of all the jobs lost during the pandemic were hospitality and tourism jobs. We also know that many workers have changed industries because of the catastrophic job losses. A recent Forbes article entitled “The Great Resignation: Microsoft Predicts 41% Attrition,” suggests that 4 in 10 workers are considering a job change and that 4 million workers voluntarily left their jobs in April of this year. Now that we have begun our recovery, restaffing for many businesses in our sector has been a challenge.
I would like to offer some observations and suggestions on our workforce issues, based on lessons learned from U.S. Travel, reviewing workforce-related research, exchanging ideas with peers and colleagues, and testing our own strategies.
Invite the Entire Person to Work
Employers must be mindful of the multiple dimensions of diversity represented in our individual team members like race, ethnicity, gender, income, and sexual orientation. We must also consider such things as whether the team member is a parent or caretaker for a loved one, has a side hustle, or has other interests or obligations outside of the workplace.
We must provide a welcoming environment that will allow them to thrive and be able to become even more valuable assets to our organizations. With more than a year of working from home, we have largely lost the ability to compartmentalize the various phases of our lives. Our team members are returning to work in a much different mindset than they were pre-pandemic.
Continue to Pursue Workplace Flexibility
It will be years before we understand all the ways the pandemic impacted how we work or the impact it had on individuals. Companies have made many adjustments on-the-fly over the last 16 months as the situation unfolded.
I would advise us not to be so quick to get “back to normal.” Many companies are reviewing job requirements, adjusting schedules, and even filling positions using part-time workers or contractors. Many employers are providing hybrid working arrangements. Even as we look to quickly get back to that new normal, employers need to stay engaged with their teams to learn if further adjustments need to be made. Meet Minneapolis formed a staff-led “Future of Work” task force during the pandemic and that group will remain intact. And if all else fails…
Be Prepared to Let Go
After we have made the whole person feel welcome in the workplace and exercise as much workplace flexibility as we can, we may have to face the reality of seeing a valued team member depart.
The pandemic may have allowed a team member to develop new skills and interests that have become their passion. The pandemic provided opportunities to reset priorities. Sometimes the most valuable way we can support a team member is to not stand in the way if our organization has legitimately done all it can to develop that individual. It may be worth a candid conversation and a plan to explore viable external opportunities.
As we prepare for the long recovery, we must look for sustainable workforce solutions that will take us into the future.
Our opportunity is to empower and celebrate the team members we need to help us live up to the destination promises we make.