Case Study: Engaging & Retaining Staff

Langdale Hotel and Spa is one of the county’s larger tourism operators, employing around 240 people. Effective staff engagement has helped maintain high staff retention rates over many years, but with the potential impact of Brexit on staffing still unclear, the hotel says retaining talent at all levels of the business is undoubtedly a top priority.

The hotel’s Director of Sales & Marketing, Dan Visser, says, “With very low unemployment in the Lake District, one of the key barriers to filling vacancies is moving people that need to work to where the work is. To address this, we continue to run a bus with up to 50 staff from Workington to Langdale seven days a week.

 “Although this wouldn’t be viable for many smaller operators, it is definitely worth considering different solutions to overcome transport and accessibility issues which your staff may face. Smaller operators can join together to overcome the barriers of movement of people to jobs.

Giving people more flexible options is also a must. Everyone is striving for a better work-life balance, so we’ve found that genuinely adapting to people’s personal circumstances makes a big difference to their ability to work, loyalty and commitment to the business. As a matter of course, we look at different work-patterns such as doing four longer working days or job sharing to fit in with childcare arrangements.

 “However, we have tried to go much further than this. For instance, we’ve introduced mental first aiders on-site and have increased our organised social activities to build that sense of place, wellbeing and belonging.

 “We have around 70 live-in staff and are constantly reviewing the quality of food and accommodation available to them, so Langdale is more than just somewhere to work, sleep and eat. As part of this, we recently opened up the gym round-the-clock, to complement more unusual working hours and give extended access to our facilities. 

 “Training is a priority too. There is always the argument that you can train people up and they will get up and leave for something better, but in most cases, people do stick with us and we see the benefits in developing more creative, well-rounded colleagues.

 “Although we are a larger business, many of the principles around engaging staff hold true for smaller guesthouses and visitor attractions too. Taking steps to retain good people isn’t anything new, but as an industry, the uncertainty of Brexit does help to focus our attention on the constant need to retain the talent we have.”

 Top tips:

  • Look after your colleagues
  • Be flexible about working arrangements where you can
  • Fair pay

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