WORKINGNATION: HOTELS USE EDUCATION INCENTIVES TO RETAIN WORKERS

Industry partners with Pearson on Accelerated Pathways degree program

By Jeff Ryder

Hospitality is one of the largest industries in the U.S., employing roughly two million Americans. But it also is one of the toughest industries for retaining employees, with an annual turnover rate of more than 70 percent. This, despite annual wage increases of 4 percent in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

To mitigate these losses, and provide further incentive to stay on the job, a group of hotel companies that includes Red Roof Inn and Wyndham is offering their employees the opportunity to earn no-cost associate and low-cost bachelor degrees.

Labor market woes
Shelly Weir is Senior Vice President of Career Development at the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Foundation (AHLEF). She talked to WorkingNation about the program, what it means for the industry, as well as its workers.

“We’re really facing the tightest labor market that we have seen in many decades. I’m sure every industry says the same thing. We are no different on the hotel side,” Weir said. “And we were really looking at innovative ways that we could help our member hotel properties kind of separate themselves in the talent recruitment and retention space. And so we felt like one of the best ways to do that would be to kind of come up with a new innovative strategy around offering no-cost and low-cost college degrees to our industry’s workforce as a way to kind of bolster the recruitment strategies for the hotels participating as well as keep those really valuable employees retained long-term at the hotel as well.”

According to Weir, the no-cost associate’s degree is focused on those hotel employees who have no post-secondary education.

“And so that could be everybody from an entry-level employee or believe it or not, it could be the general manager of the hotel as well. Because we are an industry that promotes from within. So, we have over 50 percent of our entry-level employees make it to general manager and are promoted along the career pathway and they could be promoted with or without a college degree depending on their skill set and their work ethic.”

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