The hospitality industry makes up a third of employment, and back in 2015, in the UK alone, was responsible for hiring around 2.9million people. The hotel sector has also been one of the very few industries which grows enormously each year, as demand soars higher than the number of staff working within it.
However, with that said, this sector has been known for having a high-burnout rate amongst its employees. With the stress of performing above predictions and their competitors, ensuring a client or customer is always happy. As well as remaining level-headed as technology malfunctions, it can be easy to see why many crack under stress.
For management, this causes a huge problem, because a stressed staff force leads to unhappy customers, as the quality of customer service will decrease when staff are overworked. It will also reduce the staff members productivity and how much they can take in, which is incredibly difficult when the business incorporates new technology or new training.
When this happens, it puts a strain on the business, management and staff. Without one of these people keeping the place going, it would all fall apart.
As there are several stressful and pressuring factors which can affect this industry, we’ve grouped them as best as we can. While we’ve tried to be extensive, there is a chance we’ve overlooked some, so keep this in mind.
The long hours and being on your feet all day seem less than desirable, but they can also put significant stress on the mind and the body. Staff are usually also expected to carry heavy equipment or stock, as well as cover other staff at short notice, which often means they do jobs they aren’t qualified for or had training for.
Staff who join the hospitality and hotel sector, often opt out of the working time regulations set to protect them. This means they are legally allowed to work more than 48 hours a week and are usually not entitled to a minimum daily rest period of 11 hours between shifts. Opting out of this, as many do, also means they do not qualify to have a break every six hours.
In no other industry are people expected to wait on people where there isn’t a limit to people’s expectations. In hospitality, while no one would ever wish customers to have a bad experience, the fear of doing anything wrong now weighs heavy on the staff member attempting to appease the customer. Especially when what is being asked of them is near impossible. With the rise of social media, one bad review can be costly to a business, and staff members know this and undoubtedly adds further stress to an already stressful job.
Another pressure on hotels is balancing the rooms. This can include allowing one customer can have a late check-out while another has an early one, ensuring that both customers’ needs are being met, while continuing the running of the hotel.
In the hotel restaurants, it’s making sure that all the food comes out at once. While ensuring taste, and heat isn’t affected, as well as adhering to the requirements in which it has been ordered.
Every minute, a caring staff member is thinking about the customer. They are thinking of the next way to above and beyond, and they only have little downtime between appeasing people.
The nature of hospitality is to serve the best of the best, to their customers, which can be difficult at the best of times.
Whether it’s a busy restaurant, a fully booked hotel or a congested front desk, as mentioned above, with social media at everyone’s fingers, there’s no room for error. Staff in hospitality cannot afford to make a mistake or the time it takes to apologise, which would smooth over the mistakes.
Instead, they're facing websites which allow customers to rate them, and the various reality television shows which give an insight into their jobs, while not showing the staff members in the right way. This shift has given a lot of power to customers, taking away the very little power staff in hospitality had. But none of this is helped when staff are dependent on IT systems that crash or require frequent updates.
During busy times, managers need to cover the worst-case-scenario, and many do. Often, rotas are planned in advance and only changed as the needs require them to do so. It’s why it can be confusing when things still seem to fall apart.
Scheduling more staff than needed can be overzealous and challenging financially for the business, but, it can lead to happier staff. When pressures become less, and jobs are shared over the working staff force, it can lead to better productivity due to happiness.
It’s also important to ensure management is on standby and can be relied on to defend and have the backs of their teams. When dealing with customers, it can be reassuring for staff to have someone they can bring forward to run things by or help to intervene.
The other side of management is ensuring the training, and mentoring, of staff, is at the forefront of the business. Without every member of the team, from cleaner to management, the business wouldn’t run, and a profitable business or manager knows this. Nurturing the staff, understanding the need for time off and being there for questions can be both reassuring for your team but can also motivate, and make them passionate about their job.
Working in a place which values you, does a number to your productivity, and with the stresses and pressures we mentioned above, it’s easy to see how being appreciated by your management can help ease some of that from staff members’ shoulders.
Unfortunately, the nature of the hospitality and hotel industry means we won’t find ourselves able to cover everything in this article. Still, we wanted to provide some useful hints and tips for the most common issues.
No one likes a difficult conversation, least of all, when you work on the front desk of a business. It can be challenging, but when the customer is still present, hide and mask your emotions as best as you can. Take a second to breathe deeply, without notice to the customer, between speaking or smoothing over the situation.
When the exchange is finished, remain cool-headed until you can find a safe place to vent and let it out. Tense moments can be made worse by tenser words, adding fuel to the fire which is already burning. Ensure you have a safe place in your workplace, whether that is a staff room far away from customers or a rarely used office you, and your staff members can use when a day has been difficult. Creating this place will be good for staff morale and mental health.
It can be easy to let any of our emotions flare, even for customers or clients. While things can be tense at that moment, following up with a customer a few hours later or the next day (depending on their stay) can make all the difference to their opinion of you and the business. You may even find that later on, they are more understanding of the issue if there was one, or apologetic if things were wrongly said.
Doing this also shows your dedication as a member of the company and the business itself. It shows you are compassionate and willing to go the extra mile, which can turn a frown into a smile in just a phone call.
As mentioned above, but it doesn’t hurt to say again, the support of a manager, team leader and even the business can aid confidence in employees when dealing with demanding customers. It can be challenging for anyone when challenged, but incredibly hard when employees are given a script to say, and the customer’s complaint isn’t something covered.
For managers, make yourself available. Allow your staff members to know how to contact you, and where to find you in busy times, so they understand they can approach you if something was to come up. For staff members, it’s essential to ask if you’re unsure. Being transparent and confident in your words means more to a customer than brushing them off because asking and taking the time to ask questions shows your dedication to wanting to appease them.
When switching to new software or a new way of working, it doesn’t necessarily mean the old way was wrong. Usually, it just means there is a way to improve on things. This is imperative to growth and the ever-changing times; however, it isn’t always best to throw the old method away entirely. If you’re a member of the management team, assess what could go wrong and apply back-ups to limit the pressures on your staff.
For staff, think outside of the box if you can. As the people using the system day in and out, mention the ways it isn’t cooperating as quickly, and question if there are other ways things can be done. It’s essential to do this because when things do go wrong, you may have created a back-up method of working which will keep the business running smoothly. Doing so, especially In the hotel sector, can be the difference between happy guests and unhappy ones.
When your system goes down, and you’re unable to check-in or check-out any of your guests, you may find those arriving become more stressed, and are likely to be less understanding than those who are going home. But, moving to the older way or a paper version can have a significant effect on customer experience, meaning they don’t need to stand waiting for as long as it would for a staff member to fix the issue with them being there.
As we’ve said throughout the article, it is hard to cover everything, but we’ve tried to cover as much as possible. In the world of hospitality and hotels, as the service grows, so will the issues, but in turn, we can only hope for more good moments, more appreciation, and more gratitude to grow just as quickly.
It is also crucial as the industry grows, for staff to feel they can voice things too. Allow your staff or team to take a second to challenge best practise; communicate with those around you and open channels of communication, because whether you’re a manager or not, we’ve all been in stressful situations. The stress of the sector will never go, this is the nature of hospitality, but we can continually develop to limit burnout and create a healthier work-life balance. If not just for our staff, but for the experience of the customer too.