Attracting and retaining a new generation of talent

Written by
Kathryn Porter

20 Jul 2018

20 Jul 2018 • by Kathryn Porter

What will the next generation want from work? Kathryn Porter, director of youth strategy EMEA at Hilton, discusses how the hotel group is meeting the demands of Gen Z.  

In 2017, we welcomed 160 million guests to our hotels across the world. Our business is growing, and fast. We’ve got 144 hotels in the UK, and a further 38 in the pipeline. That means our guest numbers are increasing, and we need to expand our talented workforce in response, focusing in particular on training up the next generation: Gen Z – the post-millennials.

A recent report by the BBC revealed that the majority of this age group believe that having a job they love is more important to their happiness than any other significant life achievement. Hilton will celebrate its 100th birthday next year, and to maintain our relevance, we need to not only respond to the changing needs of our guests, but consider how we engage with potential team members to keep bringing in the brightest and best talent. With this in mind, I’ve set out my top tips for attracting Gen Z.

Speak to potential recruits: connect in person as well as online

Gen Z workers will never know a world without social media. They are true digital natives, which means our own social platforms matter more than ever before, not just to attract guests, but also potential team members. The vast majority of current students use Instagram so we use our @Hilton_Careers platform to provide a real insight into life at Hilton. Different team members take over the channel on a regular basis to give followers a more authentic impression of what it’s really like to work with us.

Despite the rise of digital channels though, engaging face-to-face with Gen Z is key to showing them why they should consider a career in hospitality. Each year in May, we run Careers@Hilton week, designed to give young people a taste of the industry. Our hotels and corporate offices open their doors or go to visit local schools and colleges, putting on workshops, talks and taster sessions to help open students’ eyes to the opportunities available. This year, we hosted an amazing 449 events in the EMEA region, reaching about 27,000 young people.

Diversify the offer: provide opportunities, for every level

The tourism industry is the largest employer in the world, accounting for almost 10% of global employment. According to the WTTC, one in five jobs created in the last decade have been within the travel & tourism sector. That means there are countless opportunities for young people to find a career that suits them. But we need to bear in mind that not every individual has the same ambition and skillset – or the same starting point.

That’s why we’ve created a range of programmes to suit all kinds of backgrounds. For example, our fast-track elevator programme prepares ambitious graduates to take on a general manager position within five to eight years, while our apprenticeship programmes provide a combination of structured on and off the job training to help young people kick-start a career.

Provide training: allow every Team Member to learn continuously

Studies show that Gen Z will expect continuous training and development from their employer throughout their career. They’re looking for life-long learning, which is something we’re already committed to providing to all our team members through Hilton University (HU). HU offers more than 2,500 online courses in 18 languages, with five different ‘colleges’ for owners, leaders, general studies, commercial and hotel – each with its own Dean. And this is all supported by on-the-job training and development programmes to ensure that everyone is equipped with the right tools to develop a long and meaningful career. 

Support your employees: let them thrive

When asked in a recent survey what attracts them to a career, the most popular answer among Gen Z was “an empowering work culture” (29%) followed closely by “growth and potential” (28%).

This is something we’re really passionate about, not least because the wellbeing of our team members is critical to the success of our business. That’s why we launched Thrive@Hilton last year. Working with experts at Thrive Global, we’ve developed a proposition that helps every team member feel more resilient, focused and optimistic about their work, helping them thrive in body, mind and spirit.

Above all, it’s crucial to remember that there is no “one size fits all” recruitment and retention strategy. We have to remain flexible and innovative to continue to attract and retain passionate and committed individuals with a desire to learn and progress. Listening and responding to what motivates and drives the next generation is critical to the success of any business.