Service in the hospitality industry is key to a great guest experience, which means that hospitality businesses should constantly focus on staff training and development in order to keep service standards high. However, not only is skills development integral to excellent service, it’s also a key focus to retaining staff.

According to a survey by the Journal of Economics and Behavioural Studies on employee retention factors in the hotel industry, 63.6% of employees accounted for less than 5 working years. When TINYpulse, an employment engagement company, surveyed 400 U.S. employees to establish the motives for resigning, they discovered that the top 2 reasons were burnout (31%) and micromanagement (28%). The survey respondents also said that professional development options increased the likelihood that they would remain with their current employer.

“We know that engaged employees have higher levels of energy and are more excited in their job, which is why training plays a leading role within our group. On the job coaching, classroom interventions and self-tutorials are some of the many learning styles we implement,” explains Shaun Lamont, Managing Director of First Group.

With both staff and guest satisfaction in mind, First Group hospitality management engages in hospitality specific in-house training across all of its properties which embraces a philosophy of promoting from within by creating succession plans for junior staff. There’s also a dedicated group training chef who focuses on core kitchen skills based on internationally specific ranges and outcomes.

“Our training portfolio involves all aspects of the business from property to sales, customer support, systems training, NQF Level 4 Food and Beverage learnerships, front of house reception skills, room attendant skills and soft skills that includes telephone etiquette, service excellence, communication, customer centricity, basic health & hygiene and HIV/AIDS awareness,” he adds.

“We are also currently facilitating a very exciting 12-month food and beverage services learnership programme at Selborne Golf Estate, Hotel & Spa, The Palace and Oceanic for 15 individuals from local communities who cannot afford a tertiary qualification. This learnership is accredited with CATHSSETA (Culture, Arts, Tourism, Hospitality and Sport Sector Education and Training Authority) and provides each student with a once in a lifetime realistic industry experience,” says Lamont.

“At the end of the day, the agenda of our industry is to provide exceptional experiences and services for our guests as well as our staff. It is our responsibility to mentor and guide the upcoming generations so that they too will realise their dreams in hospitality and one day be the future of our industry,” concludes Lamont.