The hospitality industry is among the busiest in the U.S.

The hospitality industry has been growing considerably over the past decade, with the number of employees increasing at least by 500,000 each year:

The recent update by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics claims so, listing the leisure and hospitality industry as No. 15 in the list of top U.S. employers. 

Let’s take hotels for example. 

So, how many people does a hotel employ on average?

There is a regulated number of employees that a hotel should have to support its functionality. Depending on the number of stars a hotel has, the number of employees will vary. 

According to the UNWTO recommendations (on average):

  • a three-star hotel per 10 rooms should employ at least 8 people
  • a four-star hotel per 10 rooms should employ at least 12 people
  • a five-star hotel with 10 rooms should employ at least 20 people

This means that a hotel with 100 rooms should have around 1,500 employees on average. This is a quite challenging number of employees, as it gets increasingly complicated to manage them and keep them satisfied. 

What about restaurants?

According to a few years old Nestlé’s research:

  • a self-service restaurant should include 1 server per shift for every 12 tables and 4 back of house staff for every 50 customers
  • seated but casual dining should include one server for 4-5 tables and 4 back-of-house staff per 50 tables
  • a fine dining restaurant should have one server for every 3-4 tables and 6-7 back-of-house staff for every 50 customers

So, if you run a casual dining restaurant with 20 tables and host 100 customers a day, you would need 4 servers and 8 back-of-house staff on average. This also presents quite a few problems for employee management, taking into consideration that restaurants usually work at a higher pace than hotels. 

On top of that, the hospitality industry often hires low-wage employees, which, in turn, leads to high turnover and low job satisfaction rates. 

So, what can you, as an employer, do to empower your employees? 

Here are some suggestions. 

1. Conduct Regular Evaluations

The first thing that comes to mind is something that every employee dreads, regardless of the industry – employee evaluations. 

However, we aren’t talking about this form of performance analysis, but rather about those evaluations that analyze each employee’s understanding of and their contribution to the organizational culture. 

The hospitality industry in general stands on the strong foundation of corporate culture, to which all the employees should equally contribute. That’s why one of the main things hospitality job seekers look for in an employee is whether they match the organizational culture of their business. 

Measuring organizational culture is not only necessary to help your hospitality business run smoothly. It is also a way to find underlying solutions to empower employees in the hospitality industry. 

One of the most widespread methods to measure organizational culture and values is employee satisfaction surveys. These surveys serve to help you:

  • identify, which position your employees take in the organizational culture
  • find out your employees’ insights on what needs to be improved
  • how motivated your employees are to contribute to corporate culture and to represent corporate values

To get more insights from your employees, make sure that you create a multiple-choice survey, but don’t overuse so-called essay questions. 

By taking a few minutes to complete such surveys, your employees will feel more comfortable at their work knowing that their employer takes a genuine interest in how they feel and whether the atmosphere at the workplace suits them. 

2. Invest in Corporate Education

One of the many challenges for talent management in the hospitality industry is providing employees with enough resources for continuous education. 

Giving your employees opportunities to upskill and improve their qualifications has several benefits for you as their employer:

  • You shift the nature of their jobs. By giving them the opportunity to learn about innovations in technology, for instance, you broaden their horizons and add new interests. 
  • You improve their motivation to work. Employees who have regular opportunities to upskill, perform better, as they know that their employer cares about their professionalism. 
  • You reiterate your understanding of how important your employees are for you. 

On top of that, corporate education may be a good solution for customer retention in the hospitality industry. According to the Confederation of Tourism & Hospitality, a strong learning culture leads to 30-50% higher retention rates. 

How do hospitality businesses tackle corporate education? 

Let’s take an example of Marriott’s efforts to empower its employees worldwide through corporate events and education. They not only make Instagram posts introducing every person they employ, but they also report about competitions they often have for their employees to participate in:

Marriott is not only a good example of a company taking care of corporate education the right way. This is a great example of a hospitality business showing how each employee contributes to corporate culture. 

3. Offer More Flexibility 

We already mentioned that hospitality industry workers are often employed for minimum wage. Meanwhile, they often have to work overtime, which doesn’t contribute to overall job satisfaction rates. 

Even though the U.S. Labor Department orders hospitality businesses to pay their workers 1.5 more for doing overtime, lack of flexibility is still a major contributor to high turnover in the hospitality industry. 

That’s why, recently, the issue of introducing more flexibility has become one of the most topical in the hospitality industry, forcing employers to come up with solutions to retain employees and increase job satisfaction rates. 

The research done by the Families and Work Institute, one of the major advocates for increasing flexibility in the hospitality industry, has shown that the industry benefits the most from the following flexibility options:

  • Staggered hours, which allow employees to have a different start, finish, and break times. 
  • Compressed work hours, which allows employees to finish their weekly working hours in fewer days. 
  • Part-time work, possible for bar jobs and restaurant jobs. 
  • Work from home, which is mostly an option for bookkeepers or HR managers working in the hospitality industry. 

Also, one of the more common ways to introduce more flexibility to the hospitality industry is working in shifts, which, however, must not be more than 40 hours a week in total. 

Giving your employees more opportunities to manage their time is a great way to empower them and increase job satisfaction rates. Increased flexibility is also important for employee retention, as you give your employees more freedom to manage their job and responsibilities. 

4. Be a Good Listener

In this article, we mentioned different methods to empower your employees and increase their motivation. However, none of these methods will work if you don’t listen to your employees. 

Establishing a good rapport with your employees is the foundation of good job satisfaction rates. There should be mutual understanding and respect if you want to empower your employees and make them feel that they are in the right place. 

Working in the hospitality industry is quite stressful and employees often have to work overtime, making them feel that they depend on their job. Understand their contribution, help them improve professionally, give them more flexibility, and, on top of that, be a good listener. This is a recipe for empowering employees in the hospitality industry. 

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