By David Berman | November 15, 2023
Leaders in the hospitality industry were in attendance at BITAC Owners from November 5-7 at the Baha Mar Resort in Nassau, Bahamas, to connect with their peers, network and learn more about new business opportunities. During the first morning of the event on Monday, these hospitality executives experienced a keynote speech titled “Working It Out: What the New World of Work Means for Hotels.”
The session was hosted by Linda Nazareth, an economist, futurist and authority on the future of work. She is a Senior Fellow for Economics and Population Change at the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and hosts the Work and the Future podcast.
Nazareth began her talk by explaining to the present executives that factors, such as technological advances, that are impacting labor in other industries are already impacting labor in hospitality.
“I mean this in terms of who you’ll have as your clients, and I also mean it in terms of who you’ll have as your labor force,” Nazareth said. “Now is really the time to start planning for it because a lot of things are happening at the same time.”
To deal with current and upcoming changes, Nazareth said executives should adopt a growth mindset. She defined this mindset as one that doesn’t mind making mistakes, contrasting with a fixed mindset that she said is very common in business.
Nazareth then talked about global economic forces and how she sees them developing into next year. First, on inflation, which over the last year or so has impacted all Americans, she said the long-awaited decrease is currently in progress. She also said she’s no longer concerned about an imminent global recession like she was six to eight months ago.
Next, she dove more into other factors impacting labor such as workforce demographics. 30 years ago, the labor force growth rate was around 3-4%. Now, in the United States, it’s closer to 1%. However, she sees growth in the next 5-10 years as Gens Z and Alpha grow up.
The conversation shifted to environmental concerns, as Nazareth said hotels need to become more energy-conscious to appeal to younger workers. She said that companies will be under pressure to be transparent about their carbon footprint — how much garbage they generate, how far each worker has to travel each day, how much they recycle, etc.
“I think the idea of measuring your carbon footprint and having to provide it will be something to think about, particularly if you’re hiring younger workers who care a lot about this, who may ask you about this, who may choose where they work based on some of the environmental values that your company provides,” she said.
Throughout the rest of her speech, Nazareth also touched on subjects such as the proliferation of “gig” workers in hospitality and changes to the workweek. She pointed to examples of companies testing out four-day workweeks while working the same amount of hours or reducing the number of hours while making them more intensive and productive.
Nazareth challenged the audience to avoid top-down managerial approaches and instead opt to make their employees feel heard and listened to.
“I think it’s an era where you have to listen,” she said. “It’s harder to listen sometimes than to speak. Workers want purpose; they want to know why they’re doing this, how this fits in the broader scale … they want the larger picture. It means managers have to cope with this new ecosystem with different workers … and different clientele to put it all together.”
The session wrapped up with Nazareth reflecting on her main talking points and emphasizing the importance of a growth mindset.
“Creative thinking and curiosity and leadership are sometimes hard to find,” she said. “You have to find the people that can bring that to your organization to give you that growth mindset. Can you learn a growth mindset if your organization doesn’t have it, or you don’t have it? Can you teach it to the people around you? I think that is important for the journey ahead.”