Category Archives: Employee Practices

California considering hotel housekeeper regulation

California’s state-run OSHA program has proposed a standard to prevent musculoskeletal injuries among hotel housekeepers. Read on to find out more about the effort and how long it’s been on the drawing board.

California osha housekeeping injury prevention

For years, advocates for hotel housekeepers have been pushing for a regulation to protect these workers, who are exposed to significant risks on the job. In January 2012, the union UNITE HERE filed a petition with the California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board (OSHSB) requesting the adoption of a standard to address a variety of hazards, including limiting the square footage that can be assigned to a worker during an eight-hour shift.

Read entire article at Safety.BLR


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Filed under Employee Practices, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Housekeeping, Injuries, OSHA, Risk Management, Workers' Compensation

Keeping Your Employees Safe and Productive

Retaining talent is a universal business concern. It is especially important in the leisure and hospitality industry, which has the highest workforce turnover rate among private sector industries, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.(1)

When employees become injured or seriously ill as a result of their job it can affect temporary or long-term staffing in the workplace. For reference, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also reports that the hospitality and leisure industry experienced over 90,000 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work in 2013 – fully ten percent of all recorded private industry incidents that year.(2)

When employees get injured on the job, not only are they unable to perform their duties, but business operations and employee morale can also be negatively impacted.

Work Injury reporting

An important step hotel managers can take to prevent and control work-related injuries or illnesses is to create a culture of safety in the workplace. This goes beyond taking precautions to prevent injuries from occurring, but also knowing how to respond quickly and appropriately in the event someone gets injured or becomes ill. It involves ensuring that employees receive the appropriate care they need to get well and also having plans in place to facilitate the employee’s transition back to work.

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Filed under Employee Practices, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Human Resources, Uncategorized, Workers' Compensation

Petra will be at CH&LA’s New Year, New Laws Seminar – Anaheim

If you are near Anaheim, CA, you don’t want to miss CH&LA’s annual seminar on the new laws affecting hoteliers in 2017.
Our very own Todd Seiders, Director of Risk Managment, will be presenting at the seminar.

Register today at CH&LA

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Filed under ADA, Bed Bugs, Conferences, Employee Practices, Food Illnesses, Guest Issues, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Housekeeping, Human Resources, Legislation, Management And Ownership, OSHA, Pool And Spa, Privacy, Risk Management, Technology

Showing Housekeeping Staff Appreciation

Housekeepers are an integral part of the hotel industry, and employee appreciation is a professional form of endearment that not only boosts the morale of the workplace but also the quality of work being produced, with 91 percent of workers saying they feel motivated to do their best when they have leadership support. Madeline Chang, director of housekeeping at Aston Waikiki Sunset in Honolulu and director at large of the International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA), explains why hoteliers should take a second look at how they appreciate their housekeeping staff.

How can hoteliers be better attuned to their housekeepers’ needs?
Housekeepers are the eyes and ears of any operation. They have a direct impact on your guests’ experience, so it’s important to listen to them and hear the challenges or frustrations they might be experiencing. While you can create an open-door policy that establishes a channel for them to communicate with you, not all housekeepers will do that, so you should take the time to regularly walk the floors and speak with them directly. Hold daily morning briefings (which is a must not only for them but for me to set the tone for the day), carry out observations, get them to communicate their thoughts and suggestions, and make them an integral part of the operation. This buy-in from the management team and teammates is extremely helpful. Always keep them in the loop.

What are some ways in which hoteliers are already getting it right with housekeeper appreciation?

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Filed under Employee Practices, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Housekeeping, Human Resources

The Impact of Training on Your Bottom Line

Training is an important aspect in every hotel as it is the basis for cultivating superior guest service, maintaining costs, retaining employees and increasing profitability. While some owners and operators may question the return on investment (ROI) of training, the effects of not placing importance on consistent, ongoing staff training can be far greater over the long run. Preparing employees for situations, outlining role responsibilities and explaining how they are important in overall success can lead to happier employees, alleviate misunderstandings, skirt potential issues and result in better guest experience. That leaves more time for staying focused and creating a positive guest experience.

Select a Training Method to Meet Your Property’s Needs

The good news about staff training is there are different methods to embrace for achieving your property goals. What often occurs is training becomes a mixture of solutions.

Outside Speakers

Hotel owners and operators may utilize outside speakers to visit a property ranging from brand representatives, motivational speakers to notable local personalities.

Employee Handbook

Most properties assemble an employee handbook for new hires, while branded hotels may pay to send a representative to conduct training sessions on their brand. The key to effective training is assuring the handbook is comprehensive and continually updated to reflect changes in roles, responsibilities, policies, etc.

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Filed under Employee Practices, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Management And Ownership

How Overtime Rule Will Affect Hospitality

It might only be June, but hoteliers are already preparing for how the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) recently announced overtime rule will impact their properties when it takes effect Dec. 1. The rule, introduced on May 18 by the Obama administration, will broaden the number of workers eligible for overtime pay by raising the salary threshold for exempt workers to $47,476 from $23,660 per year.
Ryan Glasgow, Hunton & Williams labor and employment lawyer, has been advising employers in preparation for the final DOL rule, which will likely set the salary requirement for the professional, executive, and administrative exemptions at 40 percent of the national average for all non-hourly compensation in all industries.

clock overtime

“The DOL’s intention in increasing the salary was to increase the opportunities and increase the compensation pay to a lot of workers,” Glasgow says. “About 4 million workers are either going to be entitled to overtime or now receive an increase salary as a result of the change.”

Since hotels employ a large number of workers who fit the bill, many properties will go through an adjustment period as they restructure based on employees’ current wages.

“In the hospitality area, it’s the frontline, entry-level managers who will mostly be affected,” Glasgow says. “They have been, thus far, exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) executive exemptions. The problem is a lot of those frontline managers are currently making somewhere between $23,000 and $47,476. The hospitality industry is going to take a look at each one of those employees and decide if they’re going to increase that salary to the $47,476 level, or reclassify this person as non-exempt.”

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Filed under Employee Practices, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Labor Issues, Management And Ownership, Uncategorized

How Your GMs Manage Their Staff

Regardless of their age, most general managers have long to-do lists each day to keep their hotels running smoothly. But when a young professional earns the title at an early stage in their career, the role comes with a unique set of challenges. Being a young general manager requires a relatively unseasoned professional to manage employees who may be older and more experienced in hospitality. During an AH&LA Under 30 Gateway webinar titled, “How to Become a GM by 30,” three general managers discussed how to gracefully establish one’s place as a young leader.


Business meeting

“Being a young leader in this industry, you come across many people of different ages and backgrounds, and you need to learn to manage them in different ways. It’s important to connect with them on a personal level and not try to come in as a young leader and just take charge. Understand that people who are older than you are probably seasoned in the industry and have a lot of knowledge they can share with you about service or the property you’re working at. It’s important to keep an open mind and always take feedback. There will be hard times when you need to have conversations with employees who may be older than you or the same age as you, because you’re their leader.”

Nikki Carlson, General Manager at the Tuscan Inn, Noble House Hotels & Resorts in San Francisco, Calif.

“There will always be more seasoned individuals in the industry than yourself, and that can be a challenge, but building that personal connection with employees can help smooth over any situation. If they know that you care about them genuinely, then they’ll do anything for you.”
Jennifer Wilt, General Manager at Aloft Leawood/Presidian Destinations in Kansas City, Mo.

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Filed under Employee Practices, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Management And Ownership, Training

How Employee Feedback Can Help Hoteliers

Feedback is important for any industry, as it shows quite clearly what works, and what could be improved upon. In the service industry, there are different types of feedback. Customer feedback is most commonly discussed and used, while employee feedback tends to remain focused within the HR circle. Increasing the scope of what is asked within the feedback can improve the hotel service by astonishing amounts. This is because employees know the business in and out. They have regular experience with anything that they recommend or believe is not good practice.


Identifying Problems
A customer will give a hotelier comprehensive feedback. But a hotelier benefits from employee feedback as well, as a problem can be brought to light before a brand new customer is aware of it. Hoteliers strive to give customers an unforgettable experience so that they come back and/or spread good word of mouth about the hotel services. Anything that prevents the customer from having to face something that leads to a negative point in the feedback should be adopted.
Consider a hotel that is known throughout the city for its dinner buffet. Feedback from multiple customers shows that customers prefer multiple options for dessert (as the rival hotel buffet has started providing) instead of just a fixed dish. Had employee feedback been the norm, this problem at this hotel would have been recognized long before, because employees would have noticed it themselves during regular customer interactions.

Making Employees Feel Valued
When a customer tries a restaurant, even when the food and wine is excellent, if the service isn’t up to par, the overall impression of the establishment is diminished. Of course, correct training of employees is important. However, it is not enough to just hire the right people. Hoteliers need to boost morale and make employees feel that they matter to encourage better performance.
According to Hubspot, 39 percent of employees don’t feel valued at their workplace. When management invites employee feedback, it suggests that employee opinions are considered to be essential. This helps form a connection between employee and employer.
Customers notice when they walk into a place and the energy of the employees is so infectious, that it starts rubbing off on them. The instant impression of any place where employees are enjoying their work, and even having fun while doing it, is overwhelmingly positive. To create such an atmosphere, the employees have to feel valued at their workplace. Inviting employee feedback is one such tool that makes them feel like a part of the business. Hoteliers can achieve wonders with employees who are driven by motivation that is more than just a weekly or monthly monetary return.

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Filed under Employee Benefits, Employee Practices, Employment Practices Liability, Hotel Employees, Management And Ownership

Reduce Workplace Injuries, Boost Productivity

High levels of customer satisfaction in the hospitality and leisure industries are critical to the success of any property. It is even more challenging to maintain customer satisfaction while reducing costs associated with employee injuries and the workers’ compensation claims. Employees are continually trained on the nuances of customer service skills and customer interactions in order to achieve the best levels of service. However, maintaining a high level of productivity is difficult when employees have been injured. Increasing injury rates result in higher workers’ compensation insurance, medical care, and claim costs.

Taking a look at the causes of work-related injuries, implementing standardized work practices, and making simple changes can yield a significant decrease in injury risk and an increase in productivity. A single property within a national hotel chain has been able to decrease its workers’ compensation costs by $500,000 in the first year while improving its customer satisfaction ratings.

Within the U.S. hospitality and leisure industry, food services and accommodations employees represent 12.9 million of the 15 million employees. In 2014, the recordable injury rate among these employees was 3.6 injuries per 100 full-time employees. These injury rates can be higher among employees in departments such as housekeeping and banquet operations. One study indicated that up to 95 percent of the housekeepers indicated they experienced severe to very severe physical pain.

Any effective ergonomics and process improvement program should include aspects such as management support, employee involvement, training, problem identification, early reporting of injury symptoms, evaluation of hazard controls, implementation of hazard controls, and evaluation of progress.


Effective administration and implementation of each aspect is important, but knowing which changes will bring the most improvement in productivity and injury reduction can make a big difference.


Let’s take a look at housekeeping: Their work ensures proper cleaning as well as maintaining the visual standards of the brand. Over the past decade, consumers’ expectations of luxury as it relates to hotel rooms have increased. Furnishings are more luxurious and often include thicker mattresses, plush duvets, decorative bed skirts, and the inclusion of a variety of pillows.

In an effort to reduce injury risk while maintaining or improving customer satisfaction within a housekeeping department, we reviewed common tasks and identified the tasks that were most likely to cause injury. A detailed study was conducted of these common housekeeping tasks, such as cleaning bathrooms, changing and making beds, and removing trash and soiled linen. The evaluations determined the extent of injury risk factors and opportunities to improve the quality of the services performed. After the analysis, recommendations were made related to the selection of appropriate tools, the modification of techniques for cleaning showers and bath tubs to decrease awkward postures and minimize forces, and the identification of methods to minimize awkward postures and forces while changing beds and handling trash and dirty linens. One key factor in the success of these changes was training the employees in the appropriate methods, injury risk factors, and the proper use of tools. The changes made within the housekeeping department decreased duvet-making time by 32 percent while maintaining a standard look; reduced the number of awkward shoulder postures by 72 percent; and reduced the number of awkward back postures by 45 percent. Guests indicated an improvement by a 5 percent increase in customer cleanliness ratings.

Another department that commonly experiences a high number of injuries is the banquet operations department. Within the banquets area, server and setup tasks were also evaluated. Following similar principles, tasks were identified that had previously caused injury or were difficult to perform. Evaluations were again conducted and recommendations were made. These recommendations involved working with vendors to identify the changes to carts that could make the most impact on decreasing push/pull forces while not decreasing the load on the carts. Additionally, standardized methods of room setup and table movement were established. These simple changes and employee training yielded a decrease in injury risk, improved employee morale, and increased efficiency.

Maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction while minimizing employee injuries and workers’ compensation costs in hospitality and leisure industry is critical to the success of any property. Evaluation of tasks by a qualified professional (such as a certified professional ergonomist) can ensure that risk factors are appropriately identified and that the recommendations will adequately reduce injury risk. Minimizing costs, reducing injuries, improving efficiency, and improving customer satisfaction ratings are benefits of a successful ergonomics and process improvement program.

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Filed under Claims, Employee Benefits, Employee Practices, Health, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Injuries, Insurance, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Training

New Robotic Exoskeleton Technology is Here From Panasonic

Mobility may be one of the most important elements in maintaining personal autonomy. And now, thanks to the incredible technology behind robotic exoskeletons, the elderly, the injured, and many others can experience mobility like never before. In a new video, Panasonic unveils its latest achievements in the robotics field, applying advanced control and sensor technologies to create a motor-equipped robot that will assist with human body mechanics.

Panasonic has developed a pair of suits — one meant primarily for industrial purposes, and another to help the disabled. The power assist suits will help users perform manual labor and potentially dangerous tasks in a range of worksites, and Hiromichi Fujimoto, president of Activelink Co. (one of Panasonic’s in-house venture companies) noted, “We are proposing robotics to help at these worksites, because there will always be a certain level of work that must be done by people, and these power assist suits can help reduce the physical strain during such work.”

To help with lifting and carrying heavy loads, Panasonic has introduced the AWN-03, an assist suit designed specifically to provide lower back support. By sensing the wearer’s motion when lifting or holding heavy objects, the suit sends a signal to its motors to jump into action. By raising the user’s upper body while simultaneously pushing on their thighs, the suit promises to reduce stress on the lower back by 15 kg.


There are also two additional suits that could be used in industrial settings — the PLN-01 (the “Ninja”) is meant to help the user’s motion while walking and running, whereas the Power Loader is heralded as a powerful suit perfect for use during disaster relief, construction, and public works.

On the other end of the spectrum, Panasonic has unveiled suits meant for the elderly. “As Japan has becomes an aging society, Panasonic is aspiring to make its contribution by supporting the elderly and their families lead a comfortable life full of smiling faces and laughter” explained Hitoshi Sasaki, assistant director of Sincere Kourien, an elderly care facility run by Panasonic Age-Free. “There are many instances that can be straining to both caregivers and care recipients. Just moving from the bed to a wheelchair can be a very energy consuming for both parties.”

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Filed under Claims, Employee Practices, Health, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Injuries, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Technology, Workers' Compensation