Overcoming Hotel Staffing Challenges in Scandinavia: A Guide for HR Managers

In the dynamic landscape of the hospitality industry, Scandinavian hotels face unique challenges in attracting and retaining qualified staff. The aftermath of the pandemic has reshaped career paths, while the rise of local tourism has altered salary dynamics, changes is currency rates making salary less attractive and effective as motivation for candidates from EU countries, presenting hotel HR managers with formidable hurdles. In this article, we’ll look into the strategies and solutions how to overcome these challenges and get ready for smooth start of summer season in your hotel.

Adapting to Changing Trends

The pandemic has triggered a huge shift in the job market, with individuals exploring new career avenues. Former chefs may now be real estate agents or have embarked on entrepreneurial ventures by opening their own local restaurants. Moreover, less people choose tourism or culinary studies, which is giving a shortage of talents in the industry, therefore, we need to look into international talent pools. To meet these changes, hotel HR managers must adapt their recruitment strategies to attract and motivate talent effectively.

Money is not the main motivation anymore

It’s increasingly evident that money is not the sole motivator for employees anymore. While competitive salaries remain important and some candidates are applying for many job positions and select often the one that offers the best conditions, including salary, however, especially for the younger generation candidates, it’s about much more than just financial compensation. Job satisfaction, work-life balance, opportunities for growth and development, and a sense of purpose are becoming increasingly significant factors in attracting and retaining talent. Hotel HR managers must recognise this shift in priorities and tailor their recruitment and retention strategies accordingly. By offering a supportive work environment, opportunities for skill development, and a strong company culture, hotels can attract and retain top talent, fostering a motivated and engaged workforce. Just in case, you’ve missed this, we are speaking about these topics in our podcast for hoteliers Hotel Soprana (

Attracting Talent to Remote Locations

Remote hotel locations often struggle to attract staff due to their isolation and limited activities on site or difficulties to reach surrounding towns. However, by offering enticing perks such as local activities and fostering a sense of community, hotels can make these locations more appealing to prospective employees, also help with commuting (shared car or providing information how to use public transportation from the beginning). Also, when recruiting, we always put importance and indicate that the location is remote and inquire the candidates if this is acceptable for them for those few months, what would they occupy themselves, do they like nature activities, would they feel comfortable, so that the person wouldn’t change their mind and quit the job in the middle of the season.

Creating a vibrant work environment is crucial for attracting and retaining talent in remote settings.

Planning and Preparation to Avoid Candidate Ghosting

Strategic planning is paramount for successful recruitment, especially in seasonal businesses. HR managers must meticulously plan interview dates, processes, and have a comprehensive checklist of questions tailored to different chef positions. This approach streamlines the hiring process and ensures that candidates meet the required criteria. Ghosting, where candidates disappear after signing a contract, is a common frustration for HR managers. To prevent this, maintaining clear and constant communication throughout the hiring process is essential. HR managers should address concerns, offer assistance with relocation, and ensure transparency to foster trust with candidates.

Building Trust and Loyalty

Building long-term relationships with candidates is essential for overcoming recruitment challenges. Unlike mass job seekers, candidates who have worked with recruitment agencies for several seasons demonstrate trust and reliability. Jan, one of our clients, attests to this, stating that our agency saved them by providing a last-minute chef when needed the most, which we could do because we have a list of candidates who are getting ready for the season and keep in touch with us about their availability if anything changes.

Partnering with Recruitment Agencies

Did you know, that quality recruitment process for 1 job position can take up to 25-30 hours?  Working with a recruitment agency offers numerous benefits beyond traditional hiring methods. It involves outsourcing the resources for managing candidate application process, interviewing, sourcing candidates from a vast database, and saving valuable time by bypassing crowded job boards. Additionally, recruitment agencies utilize Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and AI hiring tools to ensure data protection and enhance hiring efficiency internationally. Also, recruitment agencies have a candidate pool built over time, allowing to reach candidates with high skills and offer them job positions even though they might not necessarily be actively searching for a job.

Navigating the complexities of international hotel staffing requires proactive measures and internal understanding of evolving trends in international job markets. By implementing strategic recruitment strategies, fostering trust with candidates, and prioritising communication, we can overcome challenges and build a resilient candidate source flow that drives success in the hospitality industry.

Are you struggling with staffing challenges in your hotel? Reach out to us and get our checklist of interview questions and learn how we can help you overcome recruitment hurdles and build a strong team, [email protected].  Your success is our priority. Let’s work together to create a thriving hospitality environment in Scandinavia.

Diana Soprana is founder of Soprana Personnel International companies in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the Baltics, helping companies internationally to recruit best talents in hospitality and IT industries, also outsource teams based in the Baltics for tourism and IT companies in Norway for almost 20 years.

Connect with Diana on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dianasoprana

Want more insights for hospitality industry? Listen to our podcast episodes on Spotify and Youtube:  https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/diana-soprana2.