Safety First, Customer-Centric Growth is Way Forward for Indian Hospitality Sector

AuthBridge data for 2017 tells us that over 15% of job applicants were found lying about their past employers, educational qualification and the reason for leaving their previous place of employment; and the trend is common across industries including hospitality.

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One of the most challenging issues facing the hospitality sector (including hotels, restaurants and other travel and tourism companies) is attracting and hiring the right people because people sit at the heart of a business that is service oriented. In India, where the workforce is more often unqualified or not appropriately trained (especially in the unorganized market), the task of hiring right is a rather onerous issue. 

That the hospitality sector continues to grow in an already fragmented and unorganized market is borne out by the mushrooming of hotels and restaurants at a phenomenal rate, which in turn has raised attrition rates among mid-to-low income employees, making matters further complicated. In the case of smaller hotels and restaurants, where the HR function is usually small or virtually non-existent and always under incessant pressure of filling up vacant positions, the absence of a robust employee background verification process remains a crucial gap. In an industry where the staff (room service butler, restaurant chef, waiter, receptionist etc.) is in direct and personal contact with their clients, engaging at a personal level, background screening must become the norm rather than an exception.

AuthBridge data for 2017 tells us that over 15% of job applicants were found lying about their past employers, educational qualification and the reason for leaving their previous place of employment; and the trend is common across industries including hospitality. An internal study of AuthBridge’s clientele reveals a picture of adoption of employee screening practices in hospitality sector. The data shows that while 63% of companies opt to conduct the most basic verification of current address of residence, less than 55% ask for a verification of permanent address of residence and only 41% sought verification of details regarding previous employment. For more serious background checks - where 68% companies opt for police verification, only 43% companies choose to do criminal background verification of their employees.

These numbers are of great concern indeed especially in light of the growing number of crimes involving hotel and restaurant staff and their guests. Earlier this year, a hotel demand manager in Gurgaon was arrested for allegedly raping a female guest, a customer in Kolkata stripped by the owners of a restaurant due to a disagreement over the payment of bills, and a 36-year-old executive manager of a housekeeping company was arrested for allegedly sexually harassing a female staffer of the company for more than two years. 

This list of cases of crimes, misconducts and vandalism is on the rise; and in hospitality where a good customer experience is core to the business, hiring a wrong candidate is of high risk from both reputational and financial perspective. As the industry matures, employers must take the onus of ensuring the safety of employees as well as customers. The first step in that direction begins with the background screening of potential employees especially criminal record verification. 

Background screening involves various checks and balances that seek to authenticate identities based on past record and reputation of a candidate and this ultimately allows employers to select the best candidate with both the required skills and the high level of integrity required for the job. It also ensures a safer work and play environment for employees and customers alike. 

As the hospitality sector grows in tandem with the rapidly expanding broader economy, Indian hospitality firms must raise the bar with a safety-first customer-centric approach which not only will help in hedging reputational risks but also in a sustainable growth.   




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