Staffing issues continue to vex companies across industries, forcing them to ask – what does this generation of professionals want in the workplace? This is the question assistant professor Laura Book’s Human Resource Management for Hospitality graduate-level course explored during the fall 2022 semester.
The project called on students in the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality to develop a recruitment plan for Clique Hospitality, a locally-based hospitality company that designs and manages night clubs, lounges, and restaurant concepts inside hotel casinos. Despite their success in the marketplace, Clique Hospitality – like so many other companies – has struggled with hiring following the pandemic. The student-generated recruitment plan looked specifically at hiring for Clique’s new restaurant in Palace Station.
“We have an amazing product,” said Clique Hospitality human resources executive and UNLV alumna, Jennifer Bauer. “Where we struggle is recruitment. We want to better communicate the value of our brand to the right audience.”
With that goal in mind, the class rolled up their sleeves and got to work.
First, Book immersed the course’s 12 master’s students in staffing theory, exploring strategies for recruiting and retaining talent, particularly in times of labor shortages. Then she divided the class into three teams: The first group focused on who the company should target and how to reach this segment (e.g. targeted social media, hiring events, etc.). The second group evaluated the company’s branding effectiveness against its competitors while crafting an employee value proposition (a statement that includes everything of value that the employer offers its employees). The last group produced a detailed list of benefits that would be attractive to employees as well as cost effective benefits options that would provide the company with a return on investment.
As part of the first group’s deliverables, they proposed a social media strategy that would promote open positions using content tailored for a specific audience.
“People may not know the company from the employee perspective,’ said group one member, Garima Verma. “We want to show snippets of their [the company’s] work culture: How does it feel to work in a restaurant for that company, for instance.”
The class also drew upon market research, like recent surveys suggesting new generations want their employers to offer professional development training that is individualized to their interests – not a one-size-fits-all approach. Other incentives, like travel perks, tickets to concerts, etc., are appealing to millennials and Gen Z, as well. A major factor influencing current employment trends is flexibility. As Verma – a native of India – and her ethnically-diverse classmates can attest, this trend in is more universal than ever, defying culture and geography.
“After the pandemic, everyone is shifting the way they want to work,” said Verma. “We want companies to understand that our lives do not revolve around work. Work has to fit into our lives.”
Book emphasized that students serve as a critical sounding board for hospitality companies seeking to build a stable, committed workforce, as they provide insights from the point of view of both the employer and the employee.
“When community partners work with students, it is a win-win,” said Book. “Companies are getting exposure to a pipeline of talent leadership for their organizations. At the same time, our students get to experience the industry from the standpoint of a real operator. If forces them to think, ‘What would I do if this were my company?’”
The students’ investment in that question was evident in the thoroughness of the final product, which was presented to Clique Hospitality at the end of the semester. The company then was able to take the recruitment plan back to their teams and begin to incorporate the students’ insights into a practical course of action.
“This plan gives us some very clear ideas on how to find potential employees, how to communicate with these folks, and how to keep them,” said Bauer, whose company is already planning its next steps with UNLV.
“We want to continue strengthening our relationship with UNLV and help students grow through internships, classroom visits, and other project work if possible. That’s what good community partners do.”