Michigan Meetings + Events Fall/Winter 2021

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ME ETI N G N OTES Products, Places & Inspiration

Expert Advice //

We’re All Short-Staffed

Here’s how to manage with grit, grace and honesty. BY CAROL A. GALLE, CMP, VEMM

Also, more than four out of five respondents are operating at least 10 percent below adequate staffing levels, and a staggering 29 percent in the industry are operating more than 30 percent below what is needed to meet consumer demand. More than four out of five hotels are limiting room inventory because they do not have adequate staffing to turn them over for new guests. At every level of hospitality organizations, managers are asking, where is everyone? JOBS HAVE CHANGED The 2020 COVID-19 shutdown caused many employers to rethink their business operations. Job descriptions were rewritten, and requirements changed to accommodate a post-pandemic world. In some organizations, employees discovered they

10 MIM+E » FALL 2021 WINTER 2022

Three Tips for Managing Events During a Labor Shortage » Cross-train. Use downtime to train team members so they can better fill in and support each other. » Be reasonable. Overworking staff may solve a short-term crisis but will sink morale and cause turnover. As business author Simon Sinek says, “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.” » Be honest. It’s no secret that our industry is understaffed. Be transparent with clients.

were no longer qualified for their own jobs. In others, the new job description looked so much different than the old, employees were no longer interested. For example, Special D Events’ meeting planner job requirements now include virtual meeting planning experience. “I gather people in a room,” one candidate told me with a sigh. “I didn’t sign up for a career to sit in front of a computer and run virtual meetings.” While I can definitely commiserate, virtual meetings have become an important source of revenue for our company. EXPECTATIONS HAVE CHANGED For nearly two years, our physical and mental health has been tested and our priorities re-evaluated on a daily basis. It’s probably difficult to find anyone who hasn’t recently questioned their career choice, their employer or their work environment. In many cases, we’ve learned to live on lower wages but with more time to spend with our families. Every HR survey I’ve read shows that workers are in no hurry to return to an office environment. Many will even quit if asked to do so. Workers who have the opportunity to be choosy are doing so. PEOPLE HAVE CHANGED Despite the general divisiveness in society right now, I believe the pandemic brought our hospitality industry closer. I’ve watched employers become more flexible, co-workers cover for each other, and competitors become mutual supporters. If we continue to treat each other with respect and allow some grace along the way, this labor shortage will eventually even out. In the meantime, let’s pay workers a fair wage, honor our commitments, and show up for one another. We are hospitality professionals. Let’s show the world how it’s done. specialdevents.com |

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P H OTO : (O P P O S I T E ) A A R O N P E T E R S O N

Carol A. Galle is the co-founder, president and CEO of Special D Events, a Detroit-based national meeting and event management agency. She’s co-founder of the Detroit Events Council and launched and leads the Live Events Coalition Detroit.

» IT’S NOT JUST RESTAURANTS that are short-staffed these days—it’s the entire hospitality industry. Over the past few months “Now Hiring” social media posts have replaced “Open to Work.” The applicant pool has dwindled. Employers schedule interviews only to be ghosted by candidates. Existing staff are forced to fill in the gaps, leading to burnout and resignations that fuel the cycle. The Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association conducted an industry survey in August and the results were sobering. Eighty-eight percent of hospitality industry respondents are operating with inadequate staffing to meet consumer demand. » 100 percent of banquet facilities » 97 percent of hotels » 89 percent of full-service restaurants » 81 percent of quick-service restaurants » 67 percent of bars/nightclubs.