A Five Star Solution to a Temporary Staffing Need

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At a recent meeting, a friend pulled me to the side and handed me a manila envelope. In a hushed voice, she told me that he wanted to make a career move and asked if I would look over her resume. Since she has been in the hospitality industry in operations with stellar credentials, I assumed she wanted to go back into operations. “Oh, no,” she said. “I’ve had enough of the long hours, seven-day-a-week work schedule and low pay. Dealing with people all day, having to put out fires and field complaints is exhausting. I don’t want the hassle of dealing with employees that don’t show up on time or at all.”

I left wondering what kind of job she thought she could get. She just listed the realities of management in hospitality. While the industry has many positions that are well-paid with a reasonable schedule with lots of opportunity for advancement, it is difficult to recruit top talent at the entry level, especially on a seasonal basis. With the baby boomers retiring and fewer young workers willing to start in entry level positions, the hospitality industry is finding it difficult or impossible to fill line and supervisory positions.

When I was the HR Director for a large destination hotel/golf resort, we needed large number of employees to work during our peak season of April to November. We filled this need by bringing in highly-qualified, motivated guest workers from Jamaica and other countries on J-1 or H2B visas. The H2Bs filled positions such as server, bartender, banquet staff, golf course maintenance and housekeeper. We recruited college graduates on J-1 visas to fill some entry level supervisory positions at the front desk and housekeeping. These workers brought their skills and experience working at some of the finest hotels and resorts in their countries, and added an international flavor and high level of customer service to our resort which delighted our guests. After 10 months of service, they went back to their home countries, with many returning year after year. This gave us a highly trained, motivated temporary workforce that understood our operations, culture and guests.

With the unemployment rate just under 10%, employers are reluctant to hire foreign guest workers. While hiring U.S. workers is preferred, the reality is the pool of qualified, motivated local workers willing to take those entry level jobs on a temporary basis is small. It would be financial suicide for hotels to hire 200 full-time employees to work through the busy season and then have to lay them off after six or 10 months when the season is over. The Department of Labor’s process for recruiting foreign workers ensures that guest workers do not take jobs from qualified U.S. workers, and the hotels and restaurants are able to handle peak seasonal business with qualified staff. There are many companies, such as Five Star Internship, based in Dublin, Ireland, that recruit J-1 Interns from top international hotel schools. For more information on recruiting H2B guest workers, go to http://www.dol.gov/whd/immigration/h2b.htm.

Mary Nestor-Harper, SPHR, is a workplace consultant, blogger, motivational speaker and freelance writer for Hospitalityjobsite.com. Based in Savannah, GA, her work has appeared in Training magazine, Training & Development magazine, Supervision, BiS Magazine and The Savannah Morning News. When she’s not writing, she enjoys singing Alto II with the Savannah Philharmonic Chorus and creating original gift items available on http://www.etsy.spoolhardy.com/. You can read more of her blogs at hospitalityjobsiteblog.com and view additional job postings on Nexxt.

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