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- 1. Introduction
Attraction and Retention of Talent in the Tourism Sector. Empirical Evidence in the South of Europe1.
University of Málaga - Spain
José Antonio Jiménez-Quintero
University of Málaga - Spain
University of Málaga - Spain
Ruiz-Molina, A., Jiménez-Quintero, J. A. & Casado-Salguero, G. (2013). Attraction and retention of talent in the tourism sector. Empirical evidence in the south of Europe. Tourism and Hospitality International Journal, 1, 24-49.
In an economic context of the collapse of the real economy, tourism has taken on a major role as the biggest employment generator in our country.
The effect that an increase on the workmanship’s quality in the tourism sector, has over the productivity increase, the improvement of living conditions and the economic growth is widely known. In this context, strategy in human resources, one of the key factors in achieving a competitive advantage, must be a stimulus to attract the most talented human capital and to develop its career in this sector, which will result in an improvement in the business performance expectations.
As is shown in previous research, the tourism sector in general, and the hotel industry in particular, unlike others, has specific characteristics which have a remarkable importance on the quality and quantity of employment generated. Among them seasonality is especially highlighted.
In employment terms, seasonality carries, a priori, instability, temporality, lack of expectations, reduced wages, etc. which mean a lower job quality and a decrease of job in periods with less tourists. All the aforementioned is an obstacle to attracting in this sector the most talented human capital, who, if they develop their careers in it, nullify the decrease in expectations and business performance.
In this way, the human resources strategy turns into a key factor of success to reach a competitive advantage and to promote business success, as recent research demonstrate (Ottenbacher, 2006; Pereira Moliner, J. et al., 2011; Camisón Zornoza, C. y Forés Julián, B, 2011).
In it, variables such as attitude of workers and staff formation affect, decisively, business results. Thus arises the need for companies to identify, hoard and develop resources and capabilities in order to increase their competiveness and, hence, employment and its quality. Among these resources human capital stands out.
In this sense and referred to the hospitality sector, recent reports from de UE (COM (2001) 0312 final) recognize that the increase in the quality of work will take part in a beneficial cycle of productivity increase, improvement in living conditions and sustainable economic growth.
To address this concern, this report aims to advance and complement previous research in the field of the impact of the tourism seasonality on employment. Mainly, analyzing attracting and retaining of the human capital, with particular emphasis on the Andalusian tourism sector is pursued.
To reach this general aim, two intermediate sub-objectives have been proposed.
Investigation of the most important qualitative and quantitative tourism variables which are related to the topic of capital human, its suitability for the job and internal and external mobility, used as a proxy for evaluation.
Objective assessment of attraction and retention problems and the measures proposed by economic agents to improve human capital’s capabilities in the sector.
2. Literature Review
Enterprises obtain higher than usual profits by implementing their business strategy if the cost of resources is lower than the economical value of production; this can be only reached if they develop a sustainable competitive advantage by creating or exploiting the imperfections in the market of strategic factors (Barney, 1986). Resources, and above all capabilities, are linked to market failures; it is not possible to commercialize them in perfect markets (Amit y Schoemaker, 1993), that’s why they have to be internally developed.
The sustainable competitive advantage, is determined by a combination of factors from both the supply and the demand side (Grant, 1996b). According to this approach, differences between enterprises’ profits are due to, among other things, their capabilities, together with the structural characteristics of the industry.
From the above, we can deduce that the achievement and maintenance of a competitive advantage depend on the management of one of the fundamental resources in any enterprise, the human factor (Armstrong, 1992; González et al., 1998: 14). Bamey refers to this (1991) when he points out that human resources are the source of a sustainable competitive advantage when they are valuable, scarce, difficult to imitate and they haven’t got any substitutes. The management of staff aimed to improve organization effectiveness goes through all those activities directed to maximize and qualify human resources, go as to be able to comply with quality requirements in their job, high commitment and involvement in their tasks.
To achieve a competitive advantage, enterprises must count on staff with appropriate professional skills, attitudes and intellectual agility; they must also possess permanent innovation processes, customer loyalty, good relationship between staff, good organizational technology, the capability of attracting and retaining the best professionals, etc.
There are two trends in research on human capital, the first is the economistic and the second is the one referring to human capital management.
For the first one, formal education is a way to achieve the necessary attributes of human capital to perform a job but it is not the only way. Innate abilities, experience, seniority and training in the workplace are factors which also provide human capital. As a consequence there may be people with the same education but with different qualification to develop a task.
For the human capital management trend, people are an intangible resource in the enterprise and its values depends on their knowledge and abilities. Existing research about human capital supports the idea that all mechanisms through which human capital can be accumulated (formal education, continuing education and occupational formation) play a decisive role in promoting competitiveness strategy and generation of knowledge.
For the purposes of our research, the key to managing intellectual capital is to guide its transformation from knowledge treated as raw material, to value for the organization (Lynn, 1998), so that it is only when knowledge (individual or organizational) is used and shared to create organizational value, that is forms intellectual capital.
Authors state that the enterprise can generate or enlarge its entrepreneurial skills by using human resources practices which emphasize the recruitment of specific workers to the organization and not to the workplace and investing in continuing education which creates new capabilities to stimulate long-term productivity.
Schuler and Jackson (1987ª) and Wright and Snell (1991) understand by human resources practices the activities that the organization performs aimed to manage the human capital base and to ensure that staff focuses its aims towards the organization’s goals, so that enterprise’s capabilities can be created or enlarged.
The problem that arises is to specify which are the necessary practices to create such capabilities. According to this, Cappelli and Crocker-Hefter (1996) propose that capabilities are developed from superior human resources, while Huselid et al. (1997) considers that entrepreneurial capabilities are established through an effective human resources system.
From the above we can deduce the double dimension of the human resources (Kamoche, 2001). On the one hand, they are constituted by knowledge and abilities, whose intangible character makes it possible to form the basis to create a competitive advantage; on the other hand, human resource practices and politics determine the way in which those resources are combined to create entrepreneurial capabilities. Ignoring both realities involves limiting the potential income generation of human resources (Kamoche, 2001), as Wright et al. (1995) has highlighted.
The new strategic paradigm questions this approach when considering that its integration with business capabilities is necessary. Optimum performance is generated when there are integrated sets of practices (Dyer and Reeves, 1995). In fact, Wright et al. (1999) consider that is highly probable that human resources practices, taken into account separately, are lightly linked to business performance. Huselid et al. (1997) speak in similar terms, referring to the role that human resources play in the creation of “business capabilities” which arise from the integration of individual capabilities generated at a functional level.
Pfeffer (1994; 1998) contributes to the research of human resources practices’ scope and content, who raising the question by considering that a human resources practice is not strategic per se, but it is a set of practices adopted by an enterprise which confers its strategic nature.
Such practices concern stable employment, selective contracting, continuing education, teamwork, reduction of status’ differences between categories, contingent compensation –which includes both worker’s participation in profits and in capital- and information transfer which allows to workers to take part in making decisions process. For this purpose, aims that, from a strategic perspective, should be proposed in human resources development, whatever approach they fall into, are: a) to develop practices which provides abilities to works; b) to increase staff’s motivation; c) to increase workers’ performance, and d) to align workers and enterprise’s aims.
All this from a strategic approach and with the perspective of staff’s participation and involvement. Also, its investigation must be done considering the enterprise as a unit of analysis.
Proper development of these practices will result, as has been exposed in this report, in a human capital increase which includes knowledge assets (tacit or explicit) deposited in people and divides it into: technical knowledge, experience, leadership abilities, teamwork abilities, staff stability and managerial skill for foresight and anticipation of challenges.
The foregoing, referring to the hospitality sector becomes more important, if possible, given that the quality in its performance depends on professionals’ performance, which render service to clients.
In this sector, there is little research related to this topic as a whole, mainly, they have referred to specific and isolated aspects. The one which analyses more variables in this scope is that accomplished by the “Federación Española de Hostelería” (Spanish Hospitality Federation) (2008) referreing to the situation of human resources in the hospitality business, which undertakes descriptive analysis.
From the above follows the need to consider education as a key feature in the development of human resources strategy, while contributing to a better matching of workers to job and this will lead to greater satisfaction in the performance of their duties, greater competitiveness, an improvement of the stability in the workplace and, finally all these will contribute to better salary levels.
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