HR Influencer Series - Junior Alabi, GBK

Junior is responsible for hiring staff across GBK’s entire portfolio of 80 restaurants. A seasoned veteran within the hospitality industry, Junior is passionate about educating people on the many opportunities for career progression and personal growth available to workers in the sector. 

What is the biggest challenge facing hiring managers on the high street?

Some of the biggest challenges for the high street include the fact that the high street has changed so much over the last 10 years and is still changing. 

The competition is fierce at the moment with small independent brands popping up left, right, and centre and big brands struggling to survive. In this candidate-driven market where workers are often approached by multiple recruiters, it’s becoming extremely difficult for recruiters to attract talented people. 

One of the other challenges is retaining millennials in the workforce for a longer period of time. Millennials are dominating the workforce. They love technology and tend to favour their personal needs more than that of the organization they work for. So, for us recruiters, the challenge is that millennials have the tendency to job hop. That, in turn, increases the workload for us as we end up searching for the same positions more frequently.

What is the biggest challenge facing part-time workers?

Lack of hours available, fewer benefits, and the opportunity to advance your career. Part-time workers are provided fewer career-building opportunities because they are seen as less committed to the brand and may be overlooked for good assignments and promotions. Consequently, a real “glass ceiling” exists for part-time workers, as their future earning potential is undermined by choosing this kind of work arrangement. People choose part-time employment for a variety of reasons, often part-time work is the only way workers can balance competing job and family demands.

How has technology influenced the way hiring managers on the high street find, manage, and retain staff?

In today’s world where everything is so readily available on the touch of a phone or the swipe of a finger, people no longer invest time in doing their CVs and instead invest more time in setting up profiles. 

The rise of so many recruitment apps has made it easy for candidates to find a job, schedule 3-5 interviews a day, and have their pick of the job roles. It’s a candidate-driven market. Jobs are being fired and advertised to candidates through multiple platforms now, so whether you’re actively seeking a new job or not, the online algorithm will find you, and new opportunities will be at your fingertips. 

Finding the candidates is one thing, but engaging with them whilst at work and retaining them is a still a challenge, and again technology has influenced the way we interact with our workforce; whether it’s through reward platforms, social media, e-shots or learning management systems, we must stay on top of the trend to ensure that we are communicating with the right technology to get the best out of our workforce. This rise clearly has its advantages but for some companies, it can be difficult to keep up with the trends and the ever-changing systems and platforms when you have budget constraints.

How have part-timers’ attitudes to work changed in recent years?

I think that part-time workers have a lot more options now when it comes to finding work. There are also a lot of tailor-made sites for people to find specific part-time work. Where before part-time workers may have just taken any work, I think the attitude has changed and they are able to shop around a lot more.

How can high street employers address staff retention?

There unfortunately isn’t a magic wand to keep people from leaving your business, however I believe that if you ensure you have some strong values and create a work environment that is inspiring, driven, fun and engaging, people might still leave your business but you will also see that people will return - the grass isn’t necessarily always greener.

What lessons can we learn from the string of CVAs and store closures happening on the high street recently?

For me, speaking from the hospitality sector, we must remember that we are all one family. We shouldn’t be afraid to call upon our fellow industry peers for help in a time of uncertainty with jobs and redundancies. 

The other important take home for me is that we must ensure that we are always looking to protect our people - our employees are the most precious assets we have in our business and ensuring we communicate with them adequately is an important factor.

What does the future of part-time work look like?

I think part-time work should just be called flexible working, the future of flexible working will bring equal rights across the workforce; the same opportunities to progress one’s career, and the same benefits. I think that as time progresses people will have multiple jobs that they work flexible hours at. 

With the way the high street is changing, there will be more and more of a need to have a lot more people working flexible hours - especially as the UK’s demand for products and food at the tap of a finger, all hours of the day increases. To keep up with this demand we will need these “part-timers” or flexible workers to fill this gap.