Front Desk Challenges (II) Training vs Hiring

When working at a Hotel Front Desk, we all know that we are the presentation of our property; we are the guest’s first contact upon arrival so that the way we do the check in represents the guest’s first impression.

This is a quite big responsibility.

But on the other hand, Hotel Front Desk involves different challenges apart from the main one (the guests); I already talked about treating drunk guests in the first post of this series. Today I would like to introduce the second challenge.

What is more difficult? Training the current employees to renovate a procedure or hiring a new employee for the company?

Challenges when hiring new employees

Hiring a new Front Desk Agent involves tasks like professional research, professional selection, developing inducting process, and additionally, taking risks.

  • Professional research will be done according to the Front Desk Agent’s Job Description. It means that it will be important to make a proper description of the tasks that the position will involve; this will make life easier both for candidates to understand what they are asked to do and for hotels to know if the candidate’s profile is adequate or not.
  • Professional selection involves the evaluation of candidates’ profiles and searching for the best one among what we have preselected.
  • Inducting process are not less important that a proper professional research. We may think about creating activities that let the new employee being easily and quickly adapted to the new team. In an ideal scenario, the company can involve the whole staff in inducting new employees.
  • Evaluating the performance of our candidates will let us know if we have found what we were looking for or if, on the contrary, we still have to keep searching.

Hiring challenges at the Front Desk -

Whether we are searching a Front Desk Agent whether we look for an Assistant Manager, every single professional research involves taking risks. We must accept that searching, selecting, inducting and evaluating new employees means that we risk our time (if the candidate is finally not adequate) and our money (hiring process are not for free)

Challenges when training new employees

When talking about training, we may take into account that we take fewer risks than when we hire new employees. Training will involve tasks like developing process, communication process and evaluation process.

Training challenges -

When I talk about developing I refer to thinking about what we are doing (Point A), what we could do instead (Point B) and what we need to do to go from A to B.

We may review any organizational chart, any procedure, any result that we think it could help to find out what can be improved. Point B needs to be imagined how things would be, how results could be improved, how procedures could change. The path from A to B is only doable if we are able to make real what we have thought.

In this case, we count on the employees that know each other and know the company they work for. Within a good training process, a good communication process will be needed: tasks like teaching, motivating and encouraging people by showing them that by doing so, results will be better, job will be more comfortable, etc.

We may add a final step when implementing new procedures: evaluation. If we need to implement new procedures properly, we will have to rate if what we have obtained is better / worst / the same than before; we will have to evaluate if the procedures are applied as we need, in order to detect any divergence; at the end of the process of evaluation, we will be able to decide whether is worth to keep the new procedure or if is better to return to point A and start thinking again.

What is more difficult?

Once we have analysed the core of a Human Resources policy, we may ask ourselves if it is more difficult to hire than to train employees.

In my opinion, a good Human Resources policy must balance hiring with training. It is not worth to keep our staff without any kind of learning, updating knowledge or improving performances (in summary, without what in some languages is called “recycling”)

As well as it is not worth to not to be able to hiring employees when we approach a seasonal peak. It is obvious that we work for an Industry that faces many types of unexpected situations… for example, our staff can unexpectedly leave the company so that we will be forced to engage staff quickly (and not good enough, probably)

We must take into account that both hiring and training involve different challenges. It means that we will have to make different efforts to face each one; both hiring and training are really difficult in a different way.

But in my opinion, if we analyse a perfect model (in which a front desk has the ideal front desk agents), training the agents is much less expensive than hiring new front desk agents. If we count on the ideal front desk agents, professional  people that know and apply the procedures with accuracy and efficacity… try to find a candidate that is able to develop a performance with the same level of quality. You will need to spend time (and money, do not forget about money) to reach the same level of accuracy… and you will need to wait until the new front desk agents are able to provide customer service with the same level.

However, this is not what it really happens in general. Have you ever realised the high turnover rate that exists in general at the Front Desk? Well, there are many reasons why the employees come and go in a Front Desk quite often; I will not analyse them today, because it is a matter a personal choice, personal priorities, career choices, career opportunities…

My question is: if hiring a new employee is much more expensive than training your actual employees (in terms of money, in terms of time, in terms of organisation) why do not we try to reduce this “turnover rate“? I am sure that if the management is able to find professional agents whose performance is high, it will be possible to reduce human resources costs by creating internal “professional development” programs that let these people develop their qualities and improve their skills.

Javier Guijarro Segado

RECOMMENDED READING: “The cost of turnover; Putting a price on the learning curve”, Timothy R. Hinkin & J. Bruce Tracey (Scholarly Commons of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration)


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