Why do some companies invest Millions in their buildings and only Thousands on their People?

Why do some companies invest Millions into their buildings and only Thousands into their People?

EP hosted a Think Tank session this week to discuss the future of work in hospitality with Bob Cotton, former chief executive of the BHA (The British Hospitality Association).

During the breakfast meeting, the argument was made that finding good people has become harder and that human capital is today a key commodity for business success. The importance of innovation through digital technology, products and services is still needed but now the innovation of people is equally as important. Good talent, great service and people are the core differential in Hospitality.

During the discussion, Bob shared his thoughts on how he has seen the sector change over the last twenty years.

Bob was asked what his secret to competitive advantage is…He answered: His black book of contacts, relationships with big and small businesses, governments, and having a broad understanding of industry. “It is important to maximise what skills you have that you can bring to the table”.

It was noted that even in the good years businesses did not spend money on developing people. However, today there appears to be less natural accountability and even life skills amongst many developing through. When looking at family businesses, they strive each year to leave the business in a better shape for the next generation coming through. As a result, companies are struggling to retain talent and nurture their relationship with employees. How do we make sure that people continue to feel motivated and engaged within their company?

The majority of businesses are failing to leave a legacy because they are not focusing on people. It was argued that Brexit may force the issue of the People agenda, but rather than this being a negative discussion there needs to be a focus on the opportunities.

Unfortunately, companies are not always supporting talent as they should be. It was reported that hospitality businesses in the UK spend only 1% of their budget in development and training while countries like Germany spend 4%. The argument was that more could be done and companies have the power not only to support but also to maximise employees’ skills by helping them make a self-analysis of their strengths as well as their weaknesses. Being an industry with such a high turnover, there is a risk of seeing hospitality as a sector that looks to replace people rather than recruiting talent. The costs involved are also very high.

In order to nurture relationships and talent, there is a need for real communication to take place.  Emails are a great tool to exchange information but not a real communication tool. Communication is about knowledge share, getting teams together to exchange ideas and learn from each other, broadening thinking and developing and building ideas.

When talking about Garry Hawkes of Gardner Merchant, Bob noted that although he never went to university he had an incredible grasp of what was happening in the market and the business. Whether you want to call it intuition or a gut feeling, you cannot get such an insight by being sat in the office. In a society that is overwhelmed by information, networking has never been more important.  

The Industry possesses some exceptional talent; it is important that we learn from what has not worked as effectively in the past decade and innovate in processes to support the development of people.

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