Crerar Hotels has laid out plans to tackle the hospitality industry staffing crisis with a new £1 million initiative to help the company attract and retain staff.
The Scottish hotels group, which is currently on the look-out for around 35 employees across its portfolio, said it has committed the cash towards attracting, retaining and developing the best talent as widespread worker shortages affects hotels and restaurants across the UK.
The group has also unveiled a number of other employee benefits in a bid to “set it apart from others in the industry”.
Benefits aim to attract staff
The lifestyle benefits include contributions towards driving lessons, paid time off the day children start primary school, a compulsory day off on employees’ birthdays and pet bereavement leave.
“There’s no doubt that the hospitality industry is in crisis when it comes to availability of skills – a crisis we have all met far sooner than expected due to the double impact of the pandemic and the fall-out of Brexit.”
Chris Wayne-Wills, Crerar Hotels chief executive
Chris Wayne-Wills, Crerar Hotels chief executive, said: “We’re coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic in a relatively fortunate position regarding our ability to invest in attracting and retaining talent.
“We planned meticulously for the impact Brexit was set to have on the industry’s workforce, so we are ahead of the game.
“There’s no doubt that the hospitality industry is in crisis when it comes to availability of skills – a crisis we have all met far sooner than expected due to the double impact of the pandemic and the fall-out of Brexit.
We are committing more than £1 million to our people development plans at a time like this as we know there is nothing more valuable than our people.”
“In response we’ve accelerated our plans that are focused on not only becoming an employer of choice within the Scottish hospitality industry, but to become a first-choice employer regardless of sector.
“That’s why investment is so important. As a privately-owned company, we are committing more than £1 million to our people development plans at a time like this as we know there is nothing more valuable than our people.”
All Crerar Hotels employees will also have access to the newly-introduced Crerar Academy to help them develop their skills and gain qualifications.
New academy aims to develop skills of ‘Generation Covid’
With an investment of £250,000 per year Crerar claims the initiative could see staff members working their way up the career ladder to general manager within five to seven years.
Mr Wayne-Wills said: “As well as supporting long-term career progression, we also want to develop and nurture the next generation of hospitality talent through our apprenticeship programme – which is vital given the current levels of youth unemployment that has granted 16–24-year-olds the title of ‘Generation Covid’.
“Progression through the ranks, supported by the Crerar Academy, could see new employees starting out with us work up to general manager status within five to seven years, which is a fantastic prospect.”
The group’s portfolio includes the Deeside In in Ballater, the Oban Bay Hotel and Thainstone House in Inverurie.
Growing a career in hospitality: Carolyn’s story
Since taking on a Saturday job in a café at the age of 14, Carolyn Carrington has stuck by her hospitality industry roots and has forged a flourishing career.
Now general manager at Golf View Hotel in Nairn, she started working full-time in the industry in 2001 after graduating with a BA(Hons) in Tourism Management. She joined the Crerar Hotels team six years later.
“I started with Crerar Hotels in the Eight Acres Hotel. It’s no longer part of the portfolio but will always hold special memories for me. I started as a receptionist and took every opportunity I could to work my way up – luckily the senior team was always encouraging and keen to develop anyone who wanted to progress further,” she said.
Go straight to the top
She decided to take the direct approach to furthering her career when she spotted a chance to move up the chain of command.
“When I was front office manager, the general manager made the decision to move on and I decided to take the bull by the horns, so to speak, and simply asked the company owner, Paddy Crerar, to be given a shot as I was confident I could do the job having learned so much with the team already. I’ll be forever grateful for him taking a punt on me – he must have seen some potential – and that year we made a record net profit for the hotel.”
Ms Carrington’s career was boosted further when she was invited to run the Golf View following its refurbishment in 2018.
She continued: “Going to Golf View was definitely the right move. My career journey with Crerar Hotels is just one example of what a fantastic industry hospitality is. It’s so different to what most people expect. I get to interact with the team and guests every day during breakfast – and even fit in a walk around the grounds with the hotel dog, Fudge – before getting into the more office-based work. And believe me, that varies wildly from sales, forecasting, revenue, and rates to HR procurement and even getting creative curating social media posts – I’m a bit of an Insta-photographer around the grounds! I also make a point of dining at the hotel restaurant once a week to make sure we’re keeping to our usual high standards.”
Ms Carrington has learned from her peers just how important nurturing hospitality talent is and makes a point of focusing on development.
She added: “As well as developing the hotel itself on a constant basis, I have so many personal goals that involve coaching and developing the teams, and I think the Crerar Academy will have a hugely beneficial impact. At the moment, I’m working closely with our former F&B manager as he takes on a new role as operations manager, and it’s amazing to see that development first-hand.
“I worked my way up before the Academy was introduced, so I’m excited to see how it brings in new talent and develops the team into the next generation of hospitality leaders.”