Hospitality skills council helps small companies with HR

The challenge

Staff turnover in hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism is around 30% – the highest of any sector. To a certain extent, it is the nature of the industry, providing jobs for many seasonal and part-time staff.

However, while larger companies in the sector with dedicated HR departments can cope with this more easily, few small businesses have someone in the management team with a personnel management qualification to handle recruitment, retention, training, and to make sure the company stays within the law.

According to research by the sector skills council for hospitality, People 1st, 76% of businesses are micro businesses, employing 45% of employees, and the cost of replacing an employee is between £1,500 and £4,500. So poor HR practice can have a detrimental impact on both productivity and profitability. If it continues, this level of staff turnover will cost the sector £6.2bn by 2012, according to People 1st.

The solution

In response to the situation, People 1st and Adviser Plus – with the support of funding from the Department of Trade and Industry – developed a service known as Tourism HR. This comprises an initial audit, followed by a comprehensive online and telephone support service, providing HR and employment law advice.

It has been piloted with great success so far – 80% of businesses renewed their contract at the end of year one.

The service initially cost £1,200 a year, which some businesses felt to be too steep. So it was extended to offer employers the option of accessing the service at a cheaper, basic entry level, with an opportunity to upgrade to a higher level of support as and when it was needed.

This new service is called HR Business Adviser, a user-friendly, legally reliable, HR and employment law website, all for just £125 a year. It has been very well received by the sector and, currently, more than 200 small businesses have obtained licences for the service.

The future

One of People 1st’s main objectives is to ensure that funded support is directed to address the industry’s most critical needs. To that end, it has secured funding from the European Social Fund to purchase 5,000 HR Business Adviser licences, which will enable 5,000 small businesses to benefit from the service for one year, at no cost.

People 1st is working closely with trade associations, industry bodies, regional development agencies and small business associations to distribute the 5,000 licences. It is crucial that small and medium-sized businesses in the hospitality sector obtain the support they need in readiness for the 2012 Olympics, when the UK’s hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism sector will be as much under scrutiny as the performance of our athletes and have a much greater impact on the future of UK plc.

Employer benefits

1 Increased profitability, reducing legal, recruitment, and staff absence costs.

2 Assurance that your policies are up-to-date.

3 A library of tools to recruit and manage employees.

4 Step-by-step guides, enabling managers to deal with issues such as discipline, holiday entitlement and maternity and paternity rights.

5 Peace of mind – the knowledge that a professional support service is at hand.

Employer view

“With employment law forever changing, it is imperative to keep up to date. HR Business Adviser offers a very user-friendly advice service that doesn’t cost the earth.”
Christine Henney, director of HR and training,The Lowry Hotel

“The HR Business Adviser service has proved a godsend. The service represents the very best value for money and has enabled us to move our business forward significantly.”
Steve Millier, director, Norton Priory Museum

“As a new and aspiring company, we wanted to make sure that we were handling our HR responsibilities properly. We took on HR Business Adviser and we have been extremely pleased with the support it has given us.”
Natalie Raw, Hope Street Hotel, Liverpool

“We have been extremely impressed with the service offered by Tourism HR. To be frank, we couldn’t have achieved what we have, within the timescale, without its dedicated assistance.”
Vincent Margiotta, Sapporo

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