Managing a diverse workforce and what the 457 visa means to hospitality employers

ME Connect’s Tanaya Das speaks to Steven Gargano, the general manager of multiple hospitality businesses in the heart of Sydney’s eclectic Surry Hills, about what it means to lead an increasingly diverse workforce and what the 457 Visa means to hospitality businesses. 

As the European migrant crisis intensifies, we in Australia read the same headlines over and over again; from the so called patriots reclaiming what it is to be Aussie to scary headlines claiming businesses prefer 457 Visa holders to local workers.

With over 30 years experience in the hospitality industry Steven Gargano currently manages the four-star Cambridge, 3.5-star Abey Hotel and boutique five-star ADGE Apartment; and has won numerous industry awards for the businesses he runs. He is also the recipient of the Multi Property Manager of the Year 2013 for the AAA Awards.

With workers from over 10 nationalities working for the properties, Steven says, “diversity and different cultures are excellent. This combination enriches Australian-born Australians, and results in employees being accepting and understanding of dissimilarities and realising that we are all the same because in the end we really are all the same.”

Successfully managing an increasingly global workforce requires more than tolerance and respect for different cultures. Gargano thinks it demands ‘good communication or listening attentively’.

“Picking up on cues is crucial. Being supportive in what you can do for your employees and genuinely caring about their wellbeing. It is a continuous process; to truly listen to employee needs without being influenced by prejudice to knowing what gives them a better experience and motivates them to come to work,” he adds.

Mainstream media as well as trade unions constantly like to claim that businesses are using sponsored workers for ‘cheap labour’; a curious argument when the migration industry knows that, by law, businesses are required to pay the sponsored worker at the local rate.

Gargano asserts that 457 Visa holders are not a threat to local jobs, in fact, “in the hospitality industry an international workforce means ideas that make our hotels truly more international and the skilled workforce from overseas invigorates and adds vitality to the industry.”

Businesses, big and small, as well as industry bodies keep asserting that 457 Visa arrangements are being used legitimately by employers to meet a genuine gap that currently exists between the number of skilled local workers and the rising demand for skilled labour. Gargano supports the claim.

“Most companies are doing the correct thing. We don’t get the right local people applying for jobs. The 457 Visa is extremely important to us. Before we sponsor, we run ads for weeks and months. We would genuinely like to employ without sponsoring, however, we would be handicapped without the 457 Visas.”

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