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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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.
Hotel owners and operators may utilize outside speakers to visit a property ranging from brand representatives, motivational speakers to notable local personalities.
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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As state and federal budget cuts tend to wane, the Department of Labor (DOL) is expected to step up enforcement against hospitality employers in the coming year. Because the DOL considers the hospitality industry as a “fissured” industry, owners, franchisors, franchisees and management companies should be prepared to deal with inquiries, particularly in the areas of tipped employees and the misclassification of employees.
According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hospitality sector added 321,000 additional jobs in 2014. With all those new employees, as well as the continued addition of jobs we expect to see in coming year, here are our top predictions for labor law issues that will play a vital role in the hospitality industry in 2015.
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Background checks are routine now, but one size does not fit all, explained Paul Wagner, shareholder of Ithaca, New York-based Stoke Roberts & Wagner. Know the different rules for each jurisdiction.
- Beware of process and policy around background checks, where decisions might create discrimination issues related to U.S. Title VIII, or the Fair Housing Act, said David Sherwyn, professor at the Cornell University School, of Hotel Administration.
- Ensure new hires donâ€™t have restrictive covenants from prior employers, said Gregg Gilman, partner with New York-based law firm Davis & Gilbert LLP. Be sure to tell new hires explicitly, â€œWe donâ€™tâ€™ want your former employersâ€™ trade secrets.â€ â€œWeâ€™re seeing more and more of this kind of litigation,â€ Gilman said, adding itâ€™s very expensive and disruptive to defend.
Â The U.S. Department of Laborâ€™s definition of an independent contractor is not the only factor used in determining who is an employee. The courts use a more expansive test when determining who can file Title VII claims, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin, Sherwyn said. â€œThe issue here is that people sometimes relax a little bit with contractors,â€ he said. Even if someone is not directly employed by your organization (i.e. a contractor) that person can still bring litigation against you.
- Â In light of increased enforcement by the DOL, companies should have protocols in place before classifying independent contractors, Gilman said. Have a written agreement stating the independent contractor is just that. And avoid the â€œperma-lancer,â€ or those permanent freelancers, who are more likely to be classified as regular employees, he said.
- Self audit often, said Ilene Berman, a partner with Atlanta-based Taylor English Duma LLP. Annually review any exempt employee with â€œassistantâ€ in the name as well as sous chefs and sales managers. Those are the positions most frequently targeted by plaintiff attorneys.
- Check local and state laws because exempt in other states does not mean exempt in California, said Nancy Yaffe, partner with Los Angeles-based Fox Rothschild LLP. California is a different beast, she added. You have to analyze employee classifications on a continuous basis.
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