“Since I’m just going to lose them to someone else, why should I spend any money on recognition or certification for my staff?”
In the highly competitive tourism industry, this kind of philosophy is not uncommon when the dual pressure of staff shortages and guest expectations begin to merge. Offering certification opportunities to your staff will help you retain your valuable employees as well as increase your bottom line.
Studies have proven that people don’t stay in jobs for the money — they stay because their needs are being met. They stay because they feel recognized and valued for the work they perform or because of the positive environment, which provides them with the challenges and prospects they need to grow professionally. As a tourism employer, certification provides you with many opportunities to meet these staff needs and retain your most valuable asset.
CERTIFICATES AND CERTIFICATIONS
So, how do certifications compare with certificates? Though some view the terms as interchangeable, there are some key differences between the two.
For example, a certificate recognizes the completion of a course or educational process and is usually followed by a formal test. In general, certificates encompass everything from self-study and short-term workshops — such as FOODSAFE, Serving It Right, SuperHost® — to post-secondary programs and courses focused on specific skills. Enrolling staff in training programs that reward them with certificates is a great way to increase their knowledge, improve morale and acquire new skills that are transferable to your day-to-day operations.
A Certification is earned upon completing one or more study courses, and is followed by a formal assessment of knowledge against a set of industry-defined standards. Certification requires proven experience working in the occupation, and gives staff a designation or credential that is recognized locally or abroad. At the highest certification levels, you must apply and be approved for certification – as well as participate in ongoing learning and professional development to keep the certification valid.
Certification recognizes an employee’s accumulated training and experience, and supports the range of industry skills and knowledge they have acquired during their time on the job. For those in tourism who haven’t taken a formal educational program, certification is the industry’s stamp recognizing their expertise, knowledge and professional status.
CERTIFICATION: A WORTHY INVESTMENT
Incorporating certification into your workplace means introducing consistent, measurable and industry-recognized standards. Employees should know what to expect and how they measure up against their peers. Certification offers staff a sense of pride in their performance, gives them confidence in handling challenging situations, and builds a commitment to their profession. For the employer, this pride and confidence results in superior customer service that converts into increased sales and repeat business.
Many employers who support certification agree that it not only inspires high standards among their employees, but also distinguishes the greatly dedicated staff members within the company. In looking around your own circles, you’ll likely see that your certified colleagues and peers are dedicated to their jobs, serious about their careers, and have plans to continue developing and growing in this profession.
In this tight labour market, employers are continually scrambling to find and keep top staff members. By offering opportunities for certification, you’re sending a message that you value your staff and view them as skilled professionals with long-term career goals. And that is key to attracting and keeping your best players. In return, your staff — as well as potential employees — will view you as a progressive and long-term career employer.
In short, offering certification can help make you an employer of choice.
For more information, check out the following industry associations and organizations that offer professional certification for members in their respective sector:
- American Hotel & Lodging Association
Globally recognized certification offered through the Educational Institute for 19 line level and 23 department, executive-level professions.
- Association of Canadian Mountain Guides
Certification for hiking guides, climbing gym instructors, rock climbing guides, alpine guides and ski guides.
- BC Snowmobile Federation
BCSF training and certification for Leader and Patrol Person.
- Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals
Credentialed Food Executive designation for members of the foodservice industry.
- Canadian Culinary Federation
Certified Chef de Cuisine program, recognized as the highest professional culinary accreditation in Canada.
- Canadian Institute of Travel Counsellors
Certified Travel Counsellor and Certified Travel Manager designations for travel trade professionals.
- Canadian Ski Guides Association
Levels 1, 2 and 3 certification plus Professional Ski Guide.
- Canadian Yachting Association
Basic, Intermediate and Advanced cruising instructor certification.
- Cross Country British Columbia
Cross Country Canada officiating certification, National Coaching Certification Program.
Canadian certification for 26 professions from all sectors, including front-line and management levels. Offered through Tourism HR Canada.
- Federation of Mountain Clubs of British Columbia
Backcountry hiking, leader certificate, rescue program.
- Meeting Professionals International
Certified Meeting Planner designation for event and conference professionals.
- Recreational Canoeing Association of British Columbia
Instructor Trainer, Master Instructor.
- Sea Kayak Guides Alliance of British Columbia
Certification for Level One Guide, Assistant Overnight Guide, Level Two Guide, Level Three Guide, Guide Trainer, Examiner