Hotel ramps up employee benefits

Crerar Hotels CEO Chris Wayne-Wills outside the Loch Fyne Hotel and Spa.

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The recruitment crisis in the tourism and hospitality sector in Scotland is being tackled head on by a hotel group.

With the pandemic and Brexit leading to many businesses crying out for staff, Crerar Hotels has committed more than £1 million towards attracting, retaining and developing the best talent.

The company, which is currently seeking around 35 employees across its portfolio of seven properties including the Oban Bay Hotel & Spa, has revamped its employee benefits and announced a new ‘Crerar Academy’ to support life-long learning and career progression.

The new package includes contributions towards driving lessons, paid time off the day children start primary school, a compulsory day off on employees’ birthdays and pet bereavement leave as a pet-friendly hotel group.

It has also launched the Crerar Academy to give employees the best training through university partners, access to industry body scholarships and a dedicated SVQ partnership to help staff gain formal qualifications.

Chris Wayne-Wills, chief executive officer, said: ‘We planned meticulously for the impact Brexit would have on the industry’s workforce, so we are ahead of the game.

‘There’s no doubt the hospitality industry is in crisis when it comes to availability of skills – a crisis we have all met far sooner than expected due to the double impact of the pandemic and the fall-out of Brexit.

‘In response we’ve accelerated our plans that are focused on not only becoming an employer of choice within the Scottish hospitality industry, but to become a first-choice employer regardless of sector.

‘As a privately-owned company, we are committing more than £1 million to our people development plans as there is nothing more valuable than our people.’

He said the criteria the company was looking for in employees was ‘commitment, being authentic and the best possible version of themselves’.

‘Whether they’re testing the hospitality waters, looking to work their way up the industry ranks or looking to turn their hand to something new in the later stages of life, we will help our teams learn and develop the skills they need to thrive,’ said Mr Wayne-Wills.

‘Not only are we offering the opportunity to constantly learn and upskill, we’re offering benefits that really stand out and fit in with the realities of life outside of work.’

He added: ‘Our industry-leading academy will constantly develop to ensure the needs of our teams are met.

‘We also want to develop and nurture the next generation of hospitality talent through our apprenticeship programme, which is vital given the current levels of youth unemployment that has granted 16 to 24-year-olds the title of ‘Generation Covid’.

‘Progression through the ranks, supported by the Crerar Academy, could see new employees starting out with us work up to general manager status within five to seven years, which is a fantastic prospect.’