We had some great feedback from our recent interviews with two GMs using the same questions… so decided to make it a regular thing!
This time, we’re shining our spotlight on the recruitment industry… with some topical questions during these times when staff shortages are making the news.
We start with Phil Street MIH, founder of Momentum Hospitality Recruitment.
You recently spoke on the panel an IoH Cymru Branch event – Making the right choices in hospitality and education. How did it go?
It was great to be part of such a cracking panel and have the opportunity to share some insight. I think hospitality has an amazing opportunity to reinvent itself on the back of the pandemic but also talk about all the good stuff we do as an industry, something I think we’re not good enough at right now.
Tell us a little more about yourself and your career to date.
I’m something of a hospitality lifer… I started working in my parents’ hotel and then worked on cruise ships for five and a half years with P&O cruises in Admin, Front of House and F&B. I then had a short stint within contract catering as a catering General Manager before finding my place in recruitment where I have been for 17 years, the last six and a half with my own business; Momentum Hospitality Recruitment Ltd. I’m totally infatuated with the people side of hospitality, and I feel lucky that I get to play such a key role in people’s careers and that I also get such a wide view of the industry with all the various business types I work with and the people within that.
In 2020, in the face of the pandemic, I launched a podcast for the industry Hospitality Meets to tell the wide and varied stories of the people in this incredible industry to start doing my bit to raise its positive profile as a career of choice. We now get 2000 listeners per month and that continues to grow.
Has your recruitment company always been hospitality-focused?
What makes your brand so different to others in your sector?
It all starts with care and respect, two remarkably simple human values I carry in my day-to-day life that are also applied to the way we conduct business.
I care deeply about hospitality, it is such an important part of so many people’s lives (lets face it, we all love a meal out or nice hotel stay somewhere) and so I believe to this day it is the greatest industry on earth because no other industry positively touches people’s lives like hospitality. Furthermore, I also care about the integrity of the process. For me this is a non-negotiable and a minimum standard and should be across the sector.
And on respect, I respect everyone I encounter, both internally and externally. I also respect that we cannot be the perfect solution for everyone, but I am always happy to have an open and honest conversation with anyone regarding their business or career needs.
Staff shortages in hospitality are making the news right now… what do you feel can be done to rectify this?
I am not sure I can answer this quickly and I’ll also most likely miss something but like most issues that need some attention, there is not one overriding solution to this but a cross section of areas that all need sustained focus over a long period of time. Sadly, I do not feel there is a quick fix to this and whilst the problem is actually a global one, I’ll focus my attention to the UK and these are in no particular order.
- The Message – As an industry, we are excellent at talking about our issues but not so great on talking about solutions and we must be careful here. If we continue to talk the issues but take no action, then we are keeping the problem in existence rather than condemning it to the past. Phase one of this would be start taking control of the message of what it is to work in hospitality. Focus on all the good stuff, all the positive things that happen and shout about that from the rooftops. That needs a united effort from all corners of the industry.
- Identify the barriers as to why people are not attracted to the industry as a career of choice and work towards making each and every one better, even if that’s small steps forward, many small steps equal a big leap. I will take a lead from Dave Brailsford here, 1% improvement in many different areas equals massive improvement.
- Leadership training – Part of the reason we find ourselves with staff shortages is because the industry experienced exceptional growth over a prolonged period of time and we just could not keep pace. This meant that people could make quick progress but may then find themselves in a position that they were not ready for. We need to focus more on world class leadership training being more readily available and having exceptional support networks for those that may find themselves temporarily out of their depth.
- Grassroots – We must inspire the next generation to choose Hospitality as a career of choice. Not only that we also must inspire their parents so that their dreams are not deflected. We have countless inspirational humans in the industry, I would guess that the vast majority would be willing to give some time to this to inspire hearts and minds.
- Look after what we already have – It goes without saying, let us not lose any more. Protect what we have with everything we have. This means actively listening, creating inclusive, safe and respectful places to work.
- Get creative in talent pools – There are a great deal many organisations doing great work in securing new talent pools (Springboard, Only a Pavement Away, The Clink spring to mind). Support them and look at other areas of society where talent could come from.
- Take more risks on who you recruit into your team – Everyone wants to hire the perfect candidate into their team. It is likely that perfect candidate does not exist, especially in a time where there are shortages. That means taking more risks.
- Call out the bad, but don’t lambast them for getting it wrong. Help and educate and if they continue to get it wrong then the likelihood is that this business is not for them, and no one will want to work for them in any case. In order to make a sustainable and meaningful change, we need to keep everyone at the table, not alienate.
- Continue to push for Government support – It feels like the industry has made great strides in this through 2020 keeping everyone united behind this goal. Keeping that moving forward would be a big win.
- Adapt – We will get things wrong, that’s inevitable but own it, adapt and move on.
- Remember the fun! – Fun is at the heart of why this industry exists in the first place, let’s not forget that and let’s focus on all the fun things we all get up to. If we demonstrate that it is a fun place to come work, we’ll pick up a lot more people.
How are you preparing to restart the recruitment industry now that we are coming to the end of the pandemic?
We’ve already restarted, there were more than a few companies who planned around the governments roadmap and have possibly managed to jump the queue a little on recruitment as a result. I also go back to my point on respect from earlier. I wholeheartedly respect that every business is going through their own challenge with the last year so we are ready to listen to all challenges to see if we have the tools to support.
What is your hope for the hospitality industry as the year progresses and for the beginning of 2022?
Recovery has to be the buzz word and continued relaxing of restrictions, at the very least giving businesses the chance to make it going forward.
What do you think makes the hospitality industry so special to work in?
Where to start? It starts with the people, it’s such a people focused business that you really can’t help but meet incredible humans. But also it’s such an amazing training ground for life. It teaches you so many different skills and those skills can take you off in so many different directions within the industry. There is literally something for everyone here.
What made you join the Institute of Hospitality?
I woke up one day and realised I wanted to do more for the industry. It made total sense therefore to becoming a member as that would allow me the opportunity to meet new people and share thinking.
Which elements of Membership did you use most during lockdown?
I watched a lot of webinars to stay connected and informed and tapped into my mentor’s knowledge and knowhow pretty frequently.
Do you have any advice for people considering joining the Hospitality industry?
Oh my god just do it! This industry can take you in so many different directions and there are literally jobs for any one and any mind. You’ll meet so many amazing human beings have the opportunity to travel, and you’ll learn so many important skills, soft and hard. Bring a cracking attitude to work every day and you will absolutely fly.
Tell us three things about yourself that no-one else knows!
- I have written and performed 2 stand-up comedy shows.
- I once performed Karate in front of the queen.
- I’d been around the world 4 times before I was 25.