Bob Cotton OBE, member of P&G Professional’s Expert Advisory Council and former Chief Executive Officer of the British Hospitality Association (BHA), explains why he feels so passionately about upskilling employees
The current business climate has never been more uncertain. With restrained customer expenditure and the future Brexit deal undetermined, the immediate prospects for both the UK economy and the hospitality sector remain unclear.
The recent Budget brought some relief in a number of areas. The overall thrust of easing the tax burden should filter through into increased consumer expenditure sometime next year and be a relief to small businesses. The increased allowance on capital expenditure tax relief should be particularly helpful to the hospitality sector.
However, in my opinion it is the changes suggested to the apprenticeship levy system that will have the most significant impact to the hospitality industry. I feel they represent a missed opportunity, as a modern economy cannot exist on highly skilled people at the top, it requires skills at all levels, particularly where we are approaching full employment. Sectors such as healthcare, construction, food processing and hospitality require quality lower skilled individuals, who are as vital as the highly skilled engineers.
For the hospitality sector, we should be looking at the urgent need for chefs, waiters, and housekeeping staff. Here, the apprenticeship levy system should be used to target these areas, rather than allowing companies to have training programmes to develop skills across the whole company. At the same time, we should have the ability to have regional focus. The needs of Central London vary enormously from the regions of Britain, which is why I would recommend labour requirements to be looked at on a regional sectoral basis, not just a blanketed UK-wide approach.
As I review the uncertainties around the sector, a number of issues remain core for any business. In hospitality, nothing is more important than the workforce. It is the responsibility of management to recruit, develop, train and motivate them, not the government or any outside agency.
Instilling confidence in employees helps improve efficiency, productivity and loyalty. Simple to use products like those in the P&G Professional range include clear instructions with icons and symbols to streamline training to help ensure they are used correctly. With proper training and the right equipment and products, employees can complete their job in less time, with less elbow grease. Tools like these help give lower skilled employees the ability to do a great job, which can improve their confidence and capability to complete daily tasks impeccably first time, every time.
All businesses must prepare now for the changes ahead, focus and invest in staff and quality products and tools, and place greater emphasis on recruiting local staff. Above all the absolute and complete task must be on retaining staff once they have been recruited and developed. People leave when they are failed by poor managements, so we must make them feel valued.
To learn more about P&G Professional and its professional cleaning systems please visit www.pgpro.co.uk or call 0800 716 854.