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4 min read

As someone whose dedicated to making the world a better place to work, I spend a lot of time talking to clients and understanding their unique needs. And a topic that's on everyone's lips right now? Employee retention. Namely, how do HR professionals keep their amazing employees within their organisation, when there's so many other options out there? 

In hospitality, this attention to retention is all the more apparent.

Sure, there are a lot of questions, and just as many answers. To get an inside look at how some HR champions are dealing with attracting and retaining employees in the hospitality industry, I spoke with Charley O'Toole, Head of HR for Bill's. Here's what she had to say: 

In our industry, there are a lot of casual dining restaurants that have closed, and we’re seeing a reduction in the overall talent pool, which has put a greater focus on our employee retention strategy.

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For Bill’s, keeping diversity and inclusion at the forefront of Bill’s’ people strategy has never been more important. Charley notes, “We’re very multicultural, which is fantastic. We encourage these different cultures — it’s so important. If we didn’t have a multicultural workforce, the hospitality in this country wouldn’t exist. It doesn’t matter who you are, you’re part of it, and if you’ve got a desire to grow and build a career with us, we’ll welcome you in.”  

employee retention strategies for the hospitality industryAn excerpt from Bill's careers and culture website

Some of the things that Bill’s is putting in place to differentiate themselves both in attracting and retaining its staff are focussed around apprenticeships, incentives through the Reward Gateway employee recognition platform and embracing the family feeling throughout special moments with employees. Here’s a little more detail on that:

employee retention strategies for the hospitality industry

Improving employee retention with strategic learning and development

One of the things Charley is most excited about is Bill’s’ approach to learning and development and encouraging internal growth within the casual dining brand. “We’ve really turned it on its head,” she says. “Most of the time, it’s about hitting points A, B, C and D and you must do these things to progress. Instead, we like to treat people as adults and let them pick and choose what they want to do.”

For instance, Charley says, if a Bill’s employee has a goal of eventually becoming a general manager, but they now are a bartender, Bill’s will offer a pathway to teach the necessary skills to get to that point. “They take ownership of that learning path and they reward them for their success.”

Evolving benefits and recognition for employees

As part of Bill’s’ retention strategy, the company uses a number of different benefits and recognition tactics, including Reward Gateway’s employee recognition platform and employee discounts benefit.

We use RG to reward our employees in ways that make a difference to them — it’s no longer a one-size-fits-all incentive, we use it to hone in on what it is they want.

Charley says while a "thank you" goes a long way, giving employees the equivalent of hard cash that they can spend on what they really want adds to the experience that an employee reward brings. 

While many employers have different pieces of the puzzle they’re dealing with when it comes to employee retention, Bills' variety of approaches is just one of many. We'll be featuring more client stories on the blog soon - if you're interested in being featured, please reach out to us in the comments below! 

Jenny Fyans

Jenny looks after Reward Gateway's client communications and events, providing information, tips and inspiration to help them get the most out of our partnerships. In her spare time, she loves cooking for friends and family.

Head of Client Marketing

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