June 3, 2024

Why hospitality People Teams need an automations platform

Matt Grimshaw

As a growing hospitality business, once you hit 100, 150, 200+ people you really start to feel the pain of managing large numbers of people.

The more people you employ, the more admin faff you have to manage.

Onboarding new starters. Off-boarding leavers. Managing absences. Compliance training. Swapping shifts. Promotions. Contract changes. Employment references. Visas.

The list goes on.

And on.

And on.

So much so, that once you hit 1,000 employees you’ll have colleagues on your People Team who are constantly chasing people to renew their right to work accreditation, book themselves onto training and answer all those queries about why they’ve suddenly been deducted pension contributions from their third month’s pay.

And if you’re not careful, it’s not just your People Team that get caught up in this admin drudgery.

You’ll find that your managers will be spending more and more time sat in front of a laptop, and less and less time with their teams and customers.

BUT it doesn’t have to be like this.

With an employee experience platform like Youda, you can use automations to:

  1. Get rid of all that boring admin
  2. Create a consistent, mobile first employee experience
  3. Create personalised, on brand experiences… not just task reminders
  4. Create a People Ops function that scales; and
  5. Generate the data you need to improve your employee experience over time

So lets explore how a platform like Youda could transform your hospitality business by saving you time and money while delivering a better experience for your people…

1. Let’s start by getting rid of all that boring people admin

Our research suggests that hospitality People Teams spend up to 60% of their time manually administering processes and responding to queries that could be automated.

And it gets worse every year, as more and more procedures and red tape creep into your businesses.

But this isn’t stuff you can just stop doing. Lots of it is required by legislation and most of it was created to solve a real problem. (Remember that time when you couldn’t run payroll because someone had given you a 7 digit bank account number…)

The issue isn’t the accumulation of processes per se. It’s that in the People space, all these processes need to be done by someone.

And that’s where employee experience platforms like Youda come in. With Youda, you can automate any logic based workflow or HR process.

So if someone’s visa is running out in three months, Youda can automatically send them a reminder with a link to update their documents. And if they don’t do it, Youda can keep chasing them, inform their manager, and if it doesn’t get sorted in time, automatically remove them from the rota so you don’t incur a £45,000 fine.

If someone’s been off sick, Youda can automatically send them a return to work questionnaire, then scan the results and automatically notify managers of any concerns.

When you have a new starter, they can go through a quick chatbot experience to deal with all that boring admin associated with onboarding a new employee. Things like signing a digital contract, completing a right to work check, a tax declaration, collecting personal details like name, address, bank account etc. Youda can get all this information through the bot and then push it to all the systems that need it, provision new accounts and trigger the appropriate next steps like compliance training, ordering the right sized uniform and introducing the new starter to the rest of the team. All without your People Team or managers having to get involved.

If you can explain it as an “if-then” process… Youda can automate it! Which means you can automate all that routine back office admin.

So your People Team can focus on the work that actually moves your business forward.

And your managers can get off their laptops and get back to spending time with their teams and customers.

Because the magic of hospitality is in those moments of human-to-human connection… not filling in forms.

2. You can deliver a consistent employee experience at scale

Imagine for a moment that one of your employees has been searching for a place to stay for the past few weeks. They’ve been running all around town. They’ve looked at some absolute dives. They’ve turned up for viewings only to find out the flat has already been let. But thankfully they’ve finally found a decent flat to rent. It’s not Buckingham Palace, but they can afford it. Now they just need an employment reference from you to secure the property. The only issue — the letting agent is being a bit of an arse and is suggesting that if they don’t get all the paperwork done by the end of the week, they’ll let the property to someone else who’s interested.

What normally happens when an employee needs a factual reference is they ask their manager. Most likely, their manager’s going to forward the request to the People Team… and it’ll probably be a few days before they get round to sending that email.

And it wasn’t on the People Team’s to do list for that week either, so someone has to find time for a job they weren’t expecting, and again, let’s be honest… it’s not going to be their number one priority.

Eventually someone will pull out the Microsoft Word template and log onto the payroll/HRIS to find the details. They’ll manually fill in the document and then they’ll send it back to the manager, because they probably don’t have an up-to-date email address for the employee.

But the manager’s off for the next two days so…  

You get the picture.

Maybe the whole process takes a week or two.

And all this time, the poor team member has no idea what’s going on, whether anyone’s doing anything about it or if it’s going to be sorted before the blinking letting agent pulls the deal.

With an automations platform like Youda, generating an employment reference takes less than 5 seconds. The employee just clicks the button and it’s done.

Automations don’t go on holiday. They don’t get sick. They aren’t asleep at 3am on a Sunday morning.

They just get your people what they need, when they need it.

3. You can create a People Ops function that can scale with your business

It’s just a fact of growing a business. More people = more admin.

People have babies, they get sick, they need training, they book holiday… they change their minds about when they want to go on holiday.

The more people you employ, the more of this stuff there is to manage.

In most hospitality businesses, more people admin = more People Team members. Although the additional resourcing tends to lag behind the requirement, meaning you’re always driving your People Team to the point where they’re overwhelmed by all the mundane admin before you finally submit to their request for another team member.

But hiring a new HR team member for every 5-10 sites isn’t smart. It means you’re not leveraging your scale or increasing your margins as your grow. And it also means you’re setting your People Team up to be an inefficient administrative function, rather than a lean strategic one.

Unlike people, software scales. Once you’ve built an automated onboarding process for a new employee, it doesn’t matter if you’re hiring 10 people or 100 people a month - the automation can just run with it.

So instead of processing all that admin…

4. Your People Team can focus on building products and coaching teams

In an ideal world, People Teams would be doing less admin and less firefighting. Instead they’d be working on the stuff that actually moves the business forward:

  • Coaching leaders and teams to nurture your culture and improve performance; and
  • Designing, building and iteratively improving People ‘products’

What do we mean by People ‘products’?

In the old days, HR was seen as an administrative function. Employees were ‘human resources’ to be utilised by the company and the expectation was that employees ought to fit in with the way the company wanted them to work. The needs of the company trumped the individual needs of employees and HR was typically a kind of ‘one size fits all’ service (usually with an exception for execs!).

By the late 2000s most companies had shifted to more of a ‘People Ops’ or ‘product’ mentality. This mindset recognised that employees had a choice in where they worked and how much discretionary effort they put in. Rather than expecting employees to just accept what they were given, the People Ops approach sees employees as users of the products or services provided by the company. The idea being that those products ought to be designed around the needs, expectations and preferences of those users. And by taking a more user centric approach, the company can create the type of employee experience that allows them to attract, engage and retain the talent that gives them a competitive advantage.

Let’s take employee onboarding as a quick example. With the old ‘HR mindset’ onboarding was about getting a new employee set up on all your systems and completing compliance requirements as efficiently as possible so they could be ‘used’ within a business unit.

The People Ops mindset would see onboarding more along the lines of: how can we give a new starter an experience that maximises their engagement and happiness, helps them understand our business and how they can contribute and sets them up for long terms success.

Most of the current HR tech available to hospitality companies was built with an ‘HR/administrative mindset’. Payrolls were built for payroll managers. Rotas for managers. Learning management systems for L&D teams. None of these applications really started with the idea that the front line employee ought to be treated as a user and that the needs of the company were secondary to the needs of the employee.

That’s why the user experience is often so clunky and inflexible.

Youda has been designed to support the People Ops or product mindset. By having a separate layer to automate workflows you can design complete user journeys for employees that respond to the different needs of the different people who work for you. So you can use Youda to build products, rather than siloed interventions or tasks.

Let’s take a training programme as an example… an employee experience platform like Youda enables you to create an end-to-end product that means you can:

  • Use data from performance management conversations to identify training needs.
  • Send an automated prompt to employees based on the personal goals they shared with their manager (“Hi Sam, I just had a quick scan of your last one-to-one chat with Charlie. Am I right in thinking you might be interested in becoming an Assistant Manager. If so, I thought you might find this upcoming course interesting…”)
  • Employees can then book themselves onto a workshop session and Youda can automatically update the rota so the manager knows not to schedule them on shift.
  • Before the session you can send automated reminders, any pre-work and instructions on what to expect at the workshop (“Hi Sam, looking forward to seeing you at the workshop next week. The session will be at our Head Office. Here’s the address and what to expect…”).
  • After the session, you can schedule automated feedback and set up quizzes to improve the retention of the learning content and update the employee’s profile so you can easily track who’s completed what courses.

And you can also…

5. Generate the data you need to get better

The truth is, most People Teams aren't generating the data that allows them to evaluate which of their products are working and where the opportunities are to improve.

Be honest, how much of your HR budget could you prove has been well spent?

Do you have the data that shows whether your training programmes are actually changing behaviour and driving business performance?

Do you know if people are using your rewards scheme, and if they are, is it improving their satisfaction with you as an employer and reducing your turnover?

Are you getting the data from your onboarding process that enables you to evaluate speed to effectiveness, speed to alignment and which recruitment channels give you the best source of candidates?

The key to making the People Ops/product approach work, is to not only automate the delivery of the experience (so far as possible), but also to automate the collection of data that allows you to improve that product over time.

This is where the real magic of Youda comes in. Not only can we help you get more insight into what works, for whom and when; our causal inference machine learning means you can use this data to start predicting behaviour (e.g. flight risk) and to determine the ROI of your investments in your people.

But that’s for another blog…

In the meantime, if you’d like to get a quick demo to see how Youda could save you time and help you deliver a better employee experience, please click here.

Matt Grimshaw
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