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Talent Pressures and the Aging Workforce: Accommodation and Food Services Sector

by Stephen Sweet and Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes with Elyssa Besen, Shoghik Hovhannisyan, and Farooq Pasha

June 2010—Typical, but potentially worrying trends mark the US Accommodations and Food Services Sector. Low levels of basic skills, conflict between work and family responsibilities, little formal training, and unwanted turnover are currently reported by employers and could pose a challenge to sustained talent management in the industry, according to a new report by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College.

Analyses of employer responses to the Center's recent Talent Management Study indicate that a worker’s job and family life commonly compete against one another in the accommodation and food services sector:

  • More than one in two employees (53%) in the accommodation and food services sector come home from work too tired to take care of their house chores at least several times a month; and
  • One in five employees (20%) in the accommodation and food services sector report that it is difficult to fulfill family responsibilities because of their job at least several times a month.

Additionally, workers in the sector commonly receive little formal training that facilitates the development of skills and are often excluded from decision-making activities:

  • Only slightly more than one in four accommodation and food services workers are engaged in decision-making task forces (27%) or are involved in self-managed teams (28%); and
  • Fewer than one in three employees (29%) in the accommodation and food services sector have received formal training from their employers. These rates are considerably lower in comparison to those in other sectors.

Organizations in the sector also report:

  • Greater shortages of basic literacy in writing and math skills, human resource skills, finance skills, and administrative support skills compared to organizations in other sectors; and
  • Greater problems with unwanted turnover, absenteeism, low skill levels of new employees, employees’ performance, and recruiting competent job applicants.

Additional findings include:

  • The US Accommodation & Food Services sector is especially reliant on female workers, with women accounting for 55% of the total workforce in 2007.
  • This sector is also heavily reliant on younger workers, and only 8% of its workforce in 2007 was aged 55 or older.

» Read more findings in Talent Pressures and the Aging Workforce: Accommodation and Food Services Sector

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