How Can Young People Rebuild The Hospitality Industry Post-COVID

This post was written by Olajide Alabi, whose the Implementation Training Specialist at Harri…

With the world gripped in the COVID-19 crisis and its severe impact on hospitality, amongst other industries, it’s important to keep looking ahead to how our industry will bounce back. Things change. The only thing constant is change, and it’s completely up to us to be adaptable. 

The way to look at it in my eyes is that the COVID-19 pandemic has acted as a catalyst to rapid change and innovation across the hospitality industry. 

I expect the recovery to be slow and we can only hope that this can start sooner rather than later, I know that we all have our fingers crossed that when the sun starts to shine the industry will be back up fighting fit ready for may bank holiday. 

There are so many ideas I have seen flying around on how the industry can get back to some sort of normality, including pizzas literally flying around on drones. However, an idea I haven’t seen discussed is the power of our young people.

Kickstart is the £2bn Government scheme to get young people into the world of work to help rebuild the economy. Click here to see how Kickstart can help your business. 

Hospitality as Career

"Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. If, however, they are left on society's margins, all of us will be impoverished. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies."

Kofi Annan

I loved this quote by Kofi and the part that stuck out to me was young people being at the forefront of change and innovation. So why are young people the key? 

As an industry, we already have the benefit of having a high population of young people that work in the sector.  The hospitality sector is full of young, driven and extremely hard-working people. The question is, how do we communicate with them? How do we engage with them? 

We can’t just simply create more jobs and not provide sufficient information and knowledge about the full extent of where your career can take you or how you succeed within the industry. We need to start tackling the thought process around hospitality being a lifelong job decision rather than a placeholder while you look for your career. Let’s be honest, that’s the reason why most people join hospitality. It’s a stopgap. 

The Importance of Communication

It all starts with communication. It’s now 2021, and as a business, you need to be adapting and moving with the times. I don’t just mean Zoom. Communication methods have changed a lot, now more than ever. With some of the most challenging political, environmental, social and health issues surrounding young people, understanding the best ways to engage them is crucial. If Kickstart is helping rebuild the nation, we need to know.

Some of The Ways You Can Engage With Young People

Modern forms of communication, not old fashioned. 

So thinking outside of the box and throwing the rule book to one side. Young people do not conform and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation like there was 10 years ago. Your branding, your comms all have to be innovative. 

Inspire, lead and drive change. 

Young people want to be inspired regularly. They want to see leadership, but not dictatorship, within a business. They want to know that you’re looking to drive change within this new world we are living in and they want to be part of it. 

Reach vulnerable communities.

There are certain areas of the country, even the world where you don’t necessarily aspire to become a Restaurant Manager or a Head Chef or even an Operations Director. You aspire to be a lawyer, a doctor, a pharmacist and I think that needs to change. We need to make sure young people in vulnerable areas have access and an understanding of the opportunities within the sector.

Shining a Light On Hospitality Post-COVID-19

In my eyes, no young person should feel that there is a glass ceiling within this great sector we all love, because you have an opportunity to shape your destiny in hospitality. 

The hospitality sector has a golden opportunity. To come out of this pandemic with a different outlook, we have a moment of stillness which we will never get again. And the opportunity to evaluate systems, procedures, policies and ways of working moving forward.

Are you as a business utilising your employee’s skills? Do you even know enough about your employees and what they enjoy doing or are aspiring to do with their lives? 

It blew my mind how many extremely talented people work within our sector, from actors to graphic designers, to artists and musicians. We have it all, yet we spend thousands outsourcing a lot of stuff to big agencies. 

I challenge you to speak with your current workforce, engage with them, especially the younger generation. Ask them, what they want to see more of? Ask them what they would love to get involved with within the business in the future. The only way to find out is to start a conversation, there is no magic shortcut.

But if now isn’t the time when will be? We are so ready to adapt and have done so well, so far adapting to this new world of COVID, surely there’s no stopping us.

“Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.”

Max McKeown

To find out how to apply to the Kickstart scheme with Harri in partnership with Springboard, click here.

Olajide Alabi

Olajide Alabi

Implementation Training Specialist at Harri

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