Developing new work patterns and practices will impact on M&A, investment and attracting great people. How advanced are plans?

One of the leading topics of discussion across the industry is, of course, the skills shortages and the need to maybe think differently in relation to work patterns. How can hospitality adapt the way that its people work, operate and feel supported as the world emerges?

It is no secret that work patterns were under pressure anyway before the pandemic. Stress levels were running high as were mental health concerns. The base truth is that people needed more time to be able to take a step back. Social media, emails, work demands have all played their role. So now can work patterns be changed and improved?

To make the whole landscape that much more difficult, many companies do possess almost unfair work patterns with operational teams needing to be onsite whilst others able to work from home. What is today regarded as fair and correct? What will be the leading issues which will determine how new work patterns are developed and found?

One MD recently noted that he was frustrated by the fact that his operational team were being asked to be onsite, often early in the morning whilst his HQ team were often only in two days a week. How does one smoothly change such a scenario?

One of the major changes, of course, is the power now is held by the employee. Companies are struggling to recruit so all are naturally having to change. It has been well reported that many have returned from furlough to have been surprised and disappointed by the lack of change to have taken place whilst they were forced to be absent. The result is that, for many, they do believe that all bets are off and they will be more mercenary in their approach. One can argue that many have always been mercenary and maybe so but equally, many have wanted to be loyal, engaged and supportive of their organizations. They do not want to leave but as research indicated, over 40% are presently looking for new roles.

· Many have found new structures and new work-life balance over the past 18 months and want their organizations to embrace change; to be progressive and open-minded in flexible work patterns.

· They also want to see the industry to be far stronger in the way it recruits from new talent pools who maybe had not been at the fore or considered in previous eras.

· They want to see greater focus on the development of talent.

It will become important as it will naturally impact on:

· M&A activity. Companies seeking to acquire are already placing more focus on the people piece and how strong it is.

· Company cultures. Leading talent will want to understand work patterns, structures and development plans. How open is an employer? How understanding to the stress and strains of the job?

· The best talent will want to join companies with long term sustainable approaches to talent, development and people.

· Equally, it will expected that they will want organization are truly inclusive.

There are a lot of changes still to come. For instance:

· Will there be greater distinction between full-time employees and contractors hired on a freelance basis?

· What about those employees who do work remotely? How do companies find a balance between those working on the floor and those from home?

· How about those who have already or will move to another jurisdiction and location? Is this acceptable and how does it impact on tax, etc? This became an issue in the U.S where some states and cities levy income tax, while others do not. An employee could, for instance, work for a company based in New York, which does levy tax, but choose to work remotely from Florida, which does not.

There is much to be considered, much to be planned.