About People in Hospitality

This blog is about the people and the people practices in Hospitality. For years the Cruise Industry has been that elusive side of Hospitality, where HR Practices and efficiencies where often perceived as inaccessible.

This blog is committed to sharing the practices the industry follows and at the same time share some efficiencies that make the service standards on modern cruise ships second to none.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Proactive vs. Reactive recruitment

Do you ever wonder what the sign "Now Hiring" means? each time I see this sign on a door or on a Sunday ad, I ask myself if this is "Proactive or is it Reactive" recruitment.

For clarification purposes "Proactive" recruitment is the type of recruitment initiative where an organization forecasts their specific "people" needs and estimates their recruitment needs for that period of time. This initiative is not limited exclusively to recruitment, but also carries great career development and succession planning along with it. However an effective organization will have developed methods\programs to manage this effectively at a medium to long term period.

"Reactive" recruitment on the other hand is the type of recruitment based on immediate people needs. An organization using this method is either to small to establish proactive recruitment practices, is in the middle of a significant period of growth or is not prepared for their people needs. One example of this is often seen at your local fast food stores, when a staff member leaves or is let go, immediately the manager will put up the sign "Now Hiring" which means that at this stage there is a gap in their staffing levels which is leading the store to have to incur in extra over time expenses, re-scheduling added frustrations by the manager and the remainder of their staff and other inherent challenges.

There is no question than out of the two methods "Proactive" recruitment is the most effective of the two, however it is not for every organization. In the case of the small to medium sized organization reactive recruitment is more advantageous since this practice is much more cost effective and allows the members of that organization to focus on their specific tasks and focus on making the business run.

The cruise industry as a growing industry has established Pro-active recruitment as their exclusive recruitment effort. At the pace the industry is growing today they establish their people needs sometimes as far as 18 months out, in order to cover their people needs.

For any organization wishing to establish a pro-active approach to recruitment here are some areas to consider:

Succession Planing: Does your organization have a succession planing program in place to cover future openings from within the organization? As each organization would benefit from external hires at all levels there needs to be a "Healthy Balance" of external to internal candidates to move into the different positions.

Career Development: All organizations would benefit form a formal\standardized career development program that would allow members of the organization to develop a career path with the help of their Management and HR Departments. This process is of great benefit to the employee since it motivates them and guides them to the next level and to the organization because it generates a picture of what available talent they have internally and externally.

Effective Scheduling: Before going out to look for new staff, when the possibility of an opening within the business takes place it is a good time to re-evaluate the staffing needs of that business unit. Do you really need another part time staff member? or could you promote other part time staff members to full time. Is the role opening still essential to the functionality of your business? Sometimes as an organization grows and matures some roles become obsolete or redundant, a job opening is a good time for the management and HR departments to determine if that role is necessary or is it time to re-asses the organizational structure and eliminate\shift the position.

Recruitment Tiers: Once your organization has established their internal talent pool and re-assessed your scheduling and organizational structure, it is time to define a recruitment strategy. An effective recruitment strategy should be divided into different timeframe tiers, in order to plan and execute an effective talent management strategy.

An example of a tiered recruitment strategy often used by leading hospitality organizations is as follows:

12 to 18 months: The organization should review their succession plans and career development plans for candidates for senior management and middle management roles and identify what additional recruits they will need for the organization's management roles, and recruit candidates based on this needs analysis.

6 to 12 months: Should be the timeframe where the business looks for senior level staff members, direct customer contact roles or roles with advanced skill requirements within the organization. This tier should rely heavily on internal candidates and lean heavily on the succession planning process. Even though all organizations should balance their internal and external candidate processes, relying to heavily on external candidates at this level could and will lead to the loss of organizational knowledge and potential could demotivate internal candidates since there are normally less positions within the organization at this level.

0 to 6 months: This is the timeframe where an organization should focus on recruiting entry level staff. This level of employees is more easily accessible, either via walk in applications, online or newsletter adds, word to word recruitment or a well placed "Now Hiring" sign. An effective organization should utilize this recruitment tier to "Backfill" the other tiers and enable their succession planing and career development processes. It is at this level where an organization should rely heavily on their brand and their employment branding (Employment value proposition) in order to attract qualified and valuable candidates to the organization.

Of course a strategy like this is not for everybody, however I am confident that any organization can benefit from some parts of the above, by either taking individual components, scaling down or scaling up some of the above.


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  4. Reactive recruitment can be more effective than proactive recruitment. Some of the cases where reactive recruitment has been more efficient is when working in smoking cessation or with minorities. It is up to the researcher to decide which type of recruitment will fit better their investigation or target participants. The size of the organization or resources available is not a causation.