Learning and Development (L&D) is an integral part of employee and customer satisfaction strategies in the hospitality sector. It has, however, taken years for F&B establishments and hotel chains to establish L&D departments, and most still struggle to identify a substantial business need. Sabrina Spillner, head of learning solutions, people and change – Learning Solutions at KPMG lower Gulf, sheds light on how L&D can affect a company’s performance.
In 2019, we witnessed a marked shift – LinkedIn’s international cross-industry third annual “Workplace Learning Report” showed that for the first time, L&D would receive executives’ buy-in for L&D interventions. These largely focus on filling skill gaps that are vital for the individual and the organization to remain competitive.
Staying competitive – but how?
In the UAE, the hospitality industry has experienced significant disruption as a result COVID-19. Staying competitive means increasing efficiency, positioning your people and organization to make a strong comeback, and exceeding customer expectations. Now is perhaps an opportune time to tighten bonds with existing clients and create strong ties with new customers. It is important to recognize the need for innovative learning solutions when welcoming new staff — as well as continuous learning strategies — both of which support an organization’s values and branding, enhancing customer experiences.
Given the current crisis and organizations’ increased dependence on technological solutions, this is perhaps a good time to start thinking about moving L&D initiatives toward leveraging advanced digital technologies. Key to making this shift successful is having the right learning platform in place. Such a platform may use artificial intelligence and machine learning in the background, offering superior learner experience and content that supports employee performance 24/7. This platform may function as an internal Google or YouTube. It would automatically personalize learning, making it particularly relevant to individual employees. Machine learning and complex algorithms will enable the system to offer recommendations based on learners’ past behavior. Users can browse content that is uniquely tailored to their needs, interests, behaviors and goals.
Establishing roles within a new learning ecosystem
Accordingly, roles within L&D will change slightly and new ones will be added. Since much of the content will be micro-learning — mostly using videos and infographics — organizations may look to hire storytellers, graphic designers, videographers and video animation developers to boost their L&D department, all of which will be vital components of designing and developing a new eLearning approach. Once the new learning platform is established and initial content is ready, an internal marketing strategy will need to be developed to introduce and promote the newly created learning hub. In order to naturally grow the learning ecosystem, the platform should feature options for employees to create and upload learning content.
24/7 performance support
Just-in-time learning is an L&D method that promotes need-related training, with content readily available when and where it is needed by the learner. The approach supports improved customer satisfaction, which is likely to translate into increased revenue. Employees enjoy support from the moment they start with the organization and continue to be upskilled throughout their career.
The hospitality industry faces a vast array of challenges and opportunities in the digital arena, as organizations strive to deliver superior service. They are likely to be more customer focused and faster when designing and executing new products and services. An AL-driven learning ecosystem can be based, for example, on the vision of “meet, learn and share” to boost an organization’s performance. Especially in the hospitality space, “schools” can be set up to empower employees, utilizing the same platform — for instance a “Chef School”, a “Barista School”, or a “Housekeeping School.” These schools could be set up by employees for employees, with or without L&D designed content, and consist of quick how-to guides that learners can access freely.
Call to action
The skill gaps and need for innovative learning approaches in the hospitality industry must be addressed sooner rather than later. The heat is on for organizations to actively address existing challenges, for immediate as well as long-term success. Executives can start by committing to a modern workforce strategy that places skills and performance support at the forefront. Such an approach would include personalized skill development at scale and leveraging new partnerships and AL-driven platforms capable of creating a holistic learning ecosystem. This may not only attract top-performing talent but is also likely to contribute to talent retention and boost customer service excellence — a combination that plays an important role in overall competitiveness. This is likely a good time to position your people and organization to make a strong comeback and exceed customer expectations.