Quickfire with Sophie Jeffrey

Training and Development Manager, The Hotel Folk
With six hotels spread across Suffolk’s coast and country, The Hotel Folk is among the county’s largest employers. Recently appointed Training and Development Manager, Sophie Jeffrey, opened a dedicated Training and Development centre at Thorpeness in March.
Published in Suffolk Director magazine, Summer|Autumn 2022

Through apprenticeships, an onboarding programme, and a calendar of training workshops, the centre provides a safe and welcoming space for the group’s Folk to gain the knowledge and skills needed for their role, as well as delivering ongoing training and support for current Folk, enabling them to progress on their chosen career path.

We asked Sophie some questions about the thinking behind a facility dedicated to training and development.

What recruitment challenges is the hospitality sector facing?

All local hospitality companies are competing for the same people. At the moment, there are not enough quality people to go around.

What does the sector need to do to make jobs more appealing?

Create a culture that we are proud of, with organised training and an understandable career path to encourage progression.

What gap does the Training and Development Centre fill?

The crucial delivery of knowledge and skills away from the workplace in a safe learning environment.

What is your vision for training and development and your people?

To provide our Folk with ongoing training opportunities and career pathways, enabling them to thrive and enjoy working in the hospitality industry.  

How are you creating a learning culture throughout your business?  

It’s ok to say I don’t know how to do something, or take a recap. The more our Folk develop, the better experience our guests will have in our hotels and restaurants.

How are you measuring if things are working?

The ultimate measure is employee retention, so it will take some time to see the benefits. If someone’s taken a role with us, it’s in our interest to keep them as long as it’s right for both parties.

Is it all about the financial benefits, or is career development more important?

Developing the career of an employee is crucial. They may not stay for long, but giving them a caring, positive environment where they are always learning, may result in them returning with even greater knowledge and skills.

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