Today’s Talent Demands a Curated Hiring Experience

conversational AI for hospitality HR

While COVID-19 has been a challenging experience for hospitality business owners, the industry now seems to be on the upswing. More and more restaurants are starting to reopen for indoor dining thanks to stimulus aid, vaccine rollout, and eased governmental restrictions. In February of this year alone, 286,000 new restaurant jobs were added to the hospitality industry workforce. 

It’s inevitable that, with an increase in restaurant activity, job applications will increase tenfold. So what does this mean for hospitality business owners? There are one of two scenarios.

Hiring drought

The industry might be opening back up, but that doesn’t mean candidates will come knocking. Displaced talent may be reluctant to come back thanks to concerns over COVID safety. If these workers found new job and growth opportunities in other industries, that further decreases the chance of their return.

Hiring flood

A scenario that may present itself after a hiring drought, hospitality business owners may have many incoming resumes and applications to sort through as COVID-19 restrictions continue to ease. This is a time-consuming process that will likely result in an increased HR labor cost and could result in careless screening or hiring. And what happens when you don’t hire the right talent? High turnover.

With high turnover comes the need to re-enter the hiring process yet again. Yet breaking the hiring-turnover cycle can often be a difficult process within itself, as it involves a great deal of time, effort, and money. Most hospitality business owners and managers do not even know where to start, and those that do are too bogged down by administrative tasks to get the ball rolling.

Conversational AI is the perfect tool to fill this gap. Chatbots are more than just an efficient, inexpensive way to ensure smarter hiring, they’re a tool to empower HR teams to do more with less — all while keeping the “human” in human resources.

Conversational AI for hospitality

At its core, conversational AI is another communication tool that hospitality business owners can use to engage with their prospective and current employees. Instead of leveraging human brainpower, however, conversational AI uses artificial intelligence (also known as AI) to have smart, relevant conversations with people to provide a personalized touch while optimizing efficiency.

Essentially, conversational AI acts as a sophisticated, personalized chatbot throughout the hiring process. It allows for a highly curated hiring experience at scale, without adding additional administrative burdens onto hiring managers.

Hospitality business owners who utilize conversational AI to facilitate the inevitable post-COVID hiring boom will see an improvement in hiring efficiency, a reduction in employee turnover, and an overall happier workforce. 

Retention starts during the application process

It is well-known, to successful hospitality business owners, that employee retention efforts begin the second a potential employee applies to work for the company. 

First impressions are everything, and high candidate engagement makes all the difference between a good and a great application experience. It might not seem like much at a glance, but this sets the tone for what a candidate can expect while working for you and how they fit into company culture as a whole.

Conversational AI enables high-touch processes in an automated, but personalized way.

In an overcrowded industry, it’s all in the details

Your job openings aren’t the only position candidates are applying to. They’ve applied to the same position for that restaurant down the street and the well-known fast-food chain on the other side of town.

They’re familiar with the application platforms, the cookie-cutter job descriptions, and the general job application process. Unless they’re determined to get a job at your specific company, a line cook position in restaurant A might look no different than a line cook position in restaurants B, C, and D.

But conversational AI can imbue your brand into the entire application process to make your brand stand out. Imagine this:

A candidate applies for your line cook position. Immediately after their application is sent, they receive an SMS message thanking them for the application. But that message is more than just a thanks — it’s a company-branded message signaling the team’s excitement for their application that provides additional details about the role.

As that candidate moves along the process, they’re given additional messages letting them know interview details or information on who they’ll be interviewing with (maybe it’s their direct manager!).

This process isn’t a one-way communication channel. That candidate has the ability to reply back and ask questions like “what should I wear for the interview?” or “ is it possible to push back the interview by an hour?”

All answers and corresponding scheduling actions will initiate automatically and in real-time.

Now, compare this highly personalized, interactive process against the standard process where all next-step communications are in the hands of the hiring manager. We’re willing to bet the most engaging process will win over the interest of job seekers. 

Empower your HR team to do more

Conversational AI is meant to be a compliment to your human HR team as opposed to a total replacement. The right solution will be a value-add rather than act as a resource replacement. 

Hiring is a time-intensive, and expensive, process. Resumes need to be reviewed, phone calls need to be made, and interviews need to be had. Hospitality’s post-COVID hiring boom means your HR team’s responsibilities are about to significantly grow if they haven’t already. Those pre-hiring processes need to be air-tight.

By supplementing human HR teams with Conversational AI tools, you can rest assured knowing your HR team’s time is being spent on meaningful tasks that drive the employee experience forward.

Take the job application and interview processes as an example. These are filled with so many documents and communication back-and-forths that HR managers spend much of their time chasing down candidates and their interviewers in order to keep the hiring flywheel turning. A great ATS makes this process easier, but large-scale hiring efforts open your team process oversight when trying to manually engage with each and every candidate.

What else does HR process automation have to offer? Significantly reduced human error. Common mistakes like candidate data typos, oversights, and even general forgetfulness in the face of hundreds of applications are eliminated by conversational AI. Not only do these damage the candidate’s perception of your brand, but they can take hours to identify and rectify within your various HR systems.

Start the conversation of growth opportunities early

An employee is much more likely to stay with a hospitality business if they know that there are opportunities for growth and upward advancement within the company. When job expectations and career growth opportunities are discussed during early interview stages, it creates an interview experience that is highly curated to the wants and needs of the candidate.

Automated interview questions are very helpful to weed out poor fits, but conversational AI also provides a fantastic way to not only understand how, but where your candidates will fit into your business.

A customizable (yet automated) series of interview questions can be distributed by job position and location to gauge skills knowledge, and potential. This opens the doors to cross-training opportunities while sowing the seeds of long-term career commitment early-on. 

Smart responses that change based on employee answers give hiring managers a better understanding of a candidate’s enthusiasm and willingness to grow within your organization even before a first interview is conducted. Any job or growth questions asked can be answered by your chatbot from the get-go, setting early expectations that can be delved into during the interview process.

And because conversational AI keeps these exchanges short and, well, conversational, this in-depth vetting process can be as short as a few simple text messages. It’s a very low friction, high yield process that benefits both parties.

Hospitality’s hourly workers are ready for conversational AI

Conversational AI is not a far-reaching tech goal, but the next step in digital transformation

 For the hospitality industry. The war on talent is cutthroat, and candidates have the flexibility to pick and choose brands that resonate most with their needs. 

When you deliver a highly personalized yes streamlined hiring experience, you set the tone early that your business cares about its people. Those brands will see continued hiring success and increased retention, both of which drive optimal business performance and a stronger guest experience.

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