“Can we get serious now?”

It’ll go down as one of the Great Lines from a movie in 2017. It’s from “Sully” (if you haven’t seen it, I recommend you do, It’s a cracker). In movie terms, it’s called a dramatic plot transition. It moves the story from one trajectory dramatically to a different one. It’s up there with “We’re gonna need a bigger boat” and “Say hello to my little friend”.

And it prompted me into the belief that this is exactly how I think and what we need to be thinking in Hospitality, an industry that makes such a positive impact in a huge amount of world’s population, directly and indirectly.

So, I ask. Can we get serious now?

For the last 2 years or so, I’ve been hearing the same message from all corners of our industry. “If we keep going at this rate of growth, we’re going to hit a skill shortage”. Well, we’re here. We’ve reached it, in fact we’re way passed it.

And that’s quite annoying.

What annoys me more is the fact that our industry has continually talked about the problem and yet has not acted to rectify the situation, almost like someone is waiting for someone else to come up with a magic solution that we can all adopt and implement.

But leadership is not about title or position, it’s about behaviour and action! Too long we’ve used our lofty positions to talk about the issues, but it feels like no collective action has been taken. Only now, when we’ve passed the point of no return, are people beginning to realise that something needs to be done.

You see, I work on the fringes of the industry, I’m not on the inside (Although I could help so many of you more if you’d let me in). As a result of that, I’m limited in the direct impact I can make in helping the industry rectify the problem it finds itself in. Or so I thought. As it turns out, we all have the power to change. I’m no different.

And the problem, as I see it, is profit and negativity.

I’m a business owner, I treat everyone I encounter, with the utmost respect. But I fully appreciate profit in business. It’s is what puts food on my teams and my own table and pays our mortgages and for that reason, it gets me out of bed in the morning. It’s that simple. There are business owners who need not worry about either food or mortgages, their business has moved beyond that, and these people are the driving force behind the growth of our industry. And do you know what? I fully respect that, and welcome it.

But not when they disrespect the individuals associated with the success of their business.

Above all other industries, ours is such a people centric business. We are the ones that make people feel special when they’re away from home. We are the ones that give them an experience that they cannot emulate on their own, and we are the ones that make them want to try somewhere new, beyond their comfort zone, to travel, to experience, to feel!

And we need happy and motivated people to help them achieve it.

Now, with Brexit and the uncertainty that brings in what happens to EU Workers, there’s a chance that this will get worse before it gets better, but I’ll examine that another time.

Speak to 100 industry leaders and the message is likely to be centred around doing more to attract and retain the talent into hospitality. The latter, for me, is now the biggest threat to our industry. Having been lucky enough to be asked to be a mentor for the next generation coming through, it’s clear we are still attracting people as an industry.

But the way I see it, we’re asking too much of people in the form of hours worked, we don’t respect them in the form of pay or their home life, we’re not adapting to the next generation’s way of thinking quickly enough and, more importantly, this is the message that’s getting out into the wider world. How can we ever hope to attract exceptional and gifted people if the message that’s received is that this is an industry that pays poorly, works you to the bone then hangs you out to dry.

The annoying thing about this is that there is so much wonderful work being done by companies and individuals but that only seems to be known amongst industry professionals. That’s not getting out there. Let’s shout about it more.

This industry excites me more than ever, we have an enlightened consumer which leads to boundaries being pushed on product and new ideas being created.

But start thinking about the journey your team are on, in work and at home and how that impacts your business. Humans are your number 1 asset, but they shouldn’t be treated as merely another line on the balance sheet. And I know it’s easier said than done and that respect is a two way street, but it must start somewhere, don’t wait for someone else to take the lead.

Respect everyone’s journey, adapt to it and watch engagement, morale and productivity go up.

Thank you for reading.