Crerar hotels combats crisis with seven-figure investment

A Scottish hotel group has declared its plans to tackle the ongoing hospitality industry recruitment crisis head-on.

Crerar Hotels, which is currently on the look-out for around 35 employees across its portfolio, has committed more than £1m towards attracting, retaining and developing the best talent.

Not only is the group making a financial commitment at a time when many businesses are tightening their budgetary belts, the group has also unveiled a tranche of revamped employee benefits to set it apart from others in the industry.

The range of ‘lifestyle benefits’ being introduced is designed to be more attuned to how employees live and work – including contributions towards driving lessons, paid time off the day children start primary school, a compulsory day off on employees’ birthdays and pet bereavement leave, the first hospitality company to do so in the country.

As well as investing in recruitment and people development – with the launch of the Crerar Academy – the hotel group is keen to help employees develop their skill set and gain qualifications through working in the hospitality industry.

Crerar Hotels CEO, Chris Wayne-Wills, (pictured) said, “We’re coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic in a relatively fortunate position regarding our ability to invest in attracting and retaining talent. We planned meticulously for the impact Brexit was set to have on the industry’s workforce, so we are ahead of the game.

“There’s no doubt that 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.

“That’s why investment is so important. As a privately-owned company, we are committing more than £1 million to our people development plans at a time like this as we know there is nothing more valuable than our people.”

The revolutionary Crerar Academy and brand new run-down of enhanced employee benefits is aimed at attracting a committed workforce looking to forge a career with Crerar Hotels.

Wayne-Wills continued, “The only real criteria we’re looking for in our employees is commitment – to being authentic and the best possible version of themselves, so they can get exactly what they want from a career with us.

'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.

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

'Our paid time off for the first day of primary school ensures parents don’t miss out on one of their children’s most important milestones, and as a proudly dog-friendly hotel group, our pet bereavement days recognise the importance people place on pets as a part of the family.

“Our hotels and inns are set across seven stunning locations so we offer accommodation and contributions towards driving lessons, which could be vital to a young person starting out, stepping onto the career ladder – so we’re actively implementing benefits that remove barriers to employment.

All Crerar Hotels employees will also have access to the newly-introduced Crerar Academy – an initiative spearheaded by the CEO.

With ongoing investment of at least £250,000 per year, the Academy aims to support life-long learning and genuine career progression, giving employees the opportunity to receive the best training through university partners, access to industry body scholarships and a dedicated SVQ partnership to help staff gain formal qualifications.

Wayne-Wills said, “Our industry-leading Academy will constantly develop to ensure the needs of our teams are met. As well as supporting long-term career progression, 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 16–24-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.

“It’s our ambition for the Crerar Academy to have a game-changing effect on the wider industry and will be rolled out in highly professional manner which will reflect the expectation of the participants and the partners.'

Wayne-Wills concluded, “We are fortunate that we offer hospitality in an absolutely world-class destination, so it’s our mission to ensure the future chefs, waiters, spa therapists and general managers, as well as supporting roles like finance, marketing and revenue management are protected and resourced with highly trained and engaged colleagues ready to deliver the Spirit of Scotland through their hospitality.”