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RIHA Column: Take Action to Protect Your Brand

Dale J. Venturini, President and CEO of Rhode Island Hospitality Industry Association.

Dale J. Venturini, President and CEO of Rhode Island Hospitality Industry Association.

By Dale J. Venturini, President & CEO, RI Hospitality Association

The hospitality industry, like many others, continues to deal with the ongoing labor shortage that is disrupting the way we normally do business. Our veteran staff members are stretched thin and overworked, leaving many of the workers coming into our industry, whether for the first time or after a hiatus, having to learn on the fly and without adequate training.

Training is critically important. Without a standard operating procedure for onboarding new employees, industry businesses are finding themselves in a revolving door of hiring, firing, job posting and doing it all over again. As more untrained workers seek employment in the hospitality industry, it is important that our recruitment strategies are in line with our capacity to bring them up to speed.

It is true that the hospitality industry is the industry of opportunity. Whether you are looking for a part-time job while you are in school, a few hours here and there as you raise the kids or a new career path with room to grow, the hospitality industry offers flexible hours, excellent pay and ample opportunity.

But as great as that all sounds, those who have come to have successful careers in hospitality understand that the days are long, the work is hard and that part of the reward is the camaraderie you can develop with your co-workers (especially when the order slips pile up while the temperature rises in the kitchen). These are things you simply cannot understand until you have experienced them.

While every effort should be made to afford new employees a fair opportunity and the tools needed to develop professionally, there are instances when it is okay, and justifiably necessary, to say “when.” When an employee has had the proper training and has been given consistent feedback, and numerous opportunities to course-correct when steering in the wrong direction, there is nothing wrong with going in another direction altogether as an employer.

Even though our businesses are still short-staffed, sometimes hard decisions have to be made for the betterment of the company and its brand. While our industry needs workers, we can do a better job of identifying and bringing in candidates who not only need to work but who WANT to work in hospitality.

To do that, we can begin by establishing and building out more professional development opportunities, encouraging collaboration and communication amongst industry peers, and look inward at how we treat our existing employees. Protecting your brand requires you to act, whether that means moving on from “bad” employees or finding ways to make them better.

Providing incentives for employees, such as the recently launched RI Hospitality Association Group 401(k) Plan for members in partnership with U.S. Wealth Management, which gives many individuals first-time access to an employer-provided retirement savings plan, only serves to attract the best talent to our industry.

Please consider visiting the RI Hospitality Association website, rihospitality.org, for all of your industry-related questions. There, you’ll find a great deal of resources for both employers and employees, from education and training opportunities including boot camps and classes, to job listings, toolkits and much more.

A veteran of more than 25 years in the hospitality industry, Venturini is considered by many to be the voice of the industry in the state of Rhode Island. She has been instrumental in improving the industry’s educational and training programs in the state, as well as enhancing the bottom line of the business she represents. Venturini splits her time between the office and the State House, a constant presence for her membership.

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