Employee Retention the Hospitality Industry Term Paper

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The answers offered by the high profit seekers as stakeholders is to take advantage of the immigrant, by demanding high work hours, and even in some cases taking advantage of the individual's low level of knowledge about the rights and responsibilities of the employee and the employer, denying overtime pay, when earned, unauthorized deductions from pay, even things as simple as demanding less "ethnic" hairstyles from employees to the point of termination for violation and other issues that frequently go unchallenged by people who already feel their job is in jeopardy by the very nature of their cultural heritage. (Piatt, 1993, p. ix) (Levin-Waldman, 2000, p. 43)

Changes in the ethnic mix of the labour force are occurring. In the U.S. most growth in the non-white workforce will come from Asians and Hispanics who together will comprise 20 per cent in 2020, while the black population will only account for 11 per cent (Woods, 1999). These groups are generally clustered in lower-level occupations in the HI. Sixty per cent of line-level personnel in U.S. restaurants are from an ethnic minority, where diversity needs to be acknowledged through cross-cultural training (Lee and Chon, 2000). Conversely there were only 35 black general managers in 45,000 U.S. hotels (Charles and McCleary, 1997). (Lucas, 2003, p. 101)

As these changes continue to occur, and as corporate social responsibility in the hospitality industry consistently fails to appropriately respond to such changes the situation will likely get worse, with regard to employee retention as well as many other employment issues.

Given that most workplaces do not measure the effects of equal opportunities policies either, there is a clear indication that the management of equality and diversity is not taken very seriously. By contrast the management of sales, costs, profits and labour costs where there is extensive monitoring is afforded very high priority (see Appendix 1). (Lucas, 2003, p. 103)

The emphasis on diversity should clearly be greater than it is in the industry at this time, the bottom line can not be the only driving force behind labor choices, yet it frequently is.

The almost complete lack of employment benefits, beyond a simple paycheck for the majority of employees within the hospitality industry, will likely become an even greater problem in the future as trends continue toward service industry work and increased cost of health care continue to jolt the wage earner and the employer like. Benefits often mean a great deal more to the individual earner than even the wage, and this is especially true of those who are retained in employment in the hospitality industry. As workers stay within the field they age and their medical expenses rise. The industry has not adequately addressed this issue and seems to still be under the false impression that the majority of its workers are under the age of 25 and not likely to need to seek medical care beyond the most basic. If employee retention is truly the goal then employee benefits like health insurance and retirement benefits are absolutely crucial.

A those industries increasing their share of total employment, most notably services (such as personal and hospitality services) and retail trade, have among the lowest health care coverage rates." (Wiatrowski, 1995, p.36)

Those rare exceptions express best case scenarios but for the most part any coverage offered is usually cost prohibitive for both the employer and employee match (as they are usually offered as match programs where only part of the premium is paid by the employer and the other part the employee and so frequently employees opt out of coverage where it is available), given the level of pay. This situation is sometimes countered when the employee makes little enough money to qualify for government services, but as pay increases and government reform continues this will not likely remain the case and even more people will become employed and uninsured. Resolving this problem is a much greater taks than one industry can seriously address, and yet for the sake of employee retention it is absolutely imperative that employers address it and do the best research they can to find the most cost effective ways to help employees seek and obtain this historical and crucial benefit.

One additional point in need of mention that is particular to the hospitality industry is the very nature of the service being provided, in juxtaposition to the employee work conditions and lifestyle. Hospitality industry employees are sadly, members of a new servant class. When the culture of our nation has rejected domestic work in the home, instead emphasizing technology and personal sacrifice to take care of household work, the hospitality industry, in its growth has had to increasingly create jobs that are in stark contrast to the relative affluence of the individuals the employees serve. This is a particularly difficult issue to address in employee retention, especially with regard to perceived rewards being so deficient. If the individual seeks little more than a smile on the face of a well served customer they might remain very happy in their role as a member of the modern servant class, but most people need more than this. In addition to this there are also always those customers who no matter how well they are served are not conscientious, appreciative or even kind to hospitality workers. Lastly the juxtaposition between the opulence of areas of the industry the customer sees and the behind the scenes conditions the employee works within is also difficult to navigate. One example, though at least psychologically appropriate, seems shallow when all the preceding information regarding this work is taken into consideration.

McDonald's encourages its managers to use low-cost strategies to keep workers happy, distributing a book called 300 Ways to Have Fun at Work that offers suggestions such as holding ice cream parties, handing out candy, and offering on-the-spot recognition to workers who do things right (Leidner, 2002, p. 25)

This is a perfect example of the kinds of bottom dollar decisions that are being made in the hospitality industry to keep people coming to work day after day, without offering them truly equitable wages, recognition of diversity, few to no chances for progressive employment, and poor working conditions.

Employee Retention Solutions:

The situation afforded the hospitality industry, will no doubt require skill and creativity to begin to achieve greater employee retention. There are some model organizations, who serve as examples of how a company can embrace certain tactics that serve the employee but do not seriously increase labor costs. Some examples of these types of answers will follow, though the expression of more idealized answers will also be discussed in this section. Some of the ways in which mangers and employers can effectively address the issues of employee retention in the hospitality industry are high cost, and therefore unlikely to be adopted, though still worth discussion. While other alternatives to improve employee retention are low cost and therefore more likely to be adopted but have some measure of effectiveness.

In an ideal society the poor balance between skilled and entry level opportunities within the hospitality industry could be bridged by continuing education, offered universally for the purpose of retaining quality employees in current and higher positions. The very people who are hosts and hostesses of countless hours of corporate continuing education are the least likely to benefit from a direct offer of such an opportunity. There are minimal ways in which this issue can be addressed in the hospitality industry due to simple demographics of the situation, though incentives such as tuition reimbursement can be offered, to individuals who commit to working within the company for a period of time after completion or attainment of certification or degree, a best case scenario. (Aronson, 2002, p.46) Though creating an internal continuing education system can be cost effective and offer the employee a greater sense of community and connectedness as well as a greater sense of accomplishment in industry. (Lucas, 2003, p. 88) more realistic offering, than a global implementation of tuition reimbursement, utilized to attempt to make at least some headway in the fight to keep the best workers with regard to this imbalance, would be to come up with creative solutions that are low cost but offer the individual a greater potential outcome. One example would be to offer the best shifts to employees that have tenure. This is especially effective in tip earning positions, but can also be effective in non-tip earning positions where the individual seeks the ability to work a certain shift to meet educational or family needs. It costs the company little but can make a big difference for an employee. Keeping communications open is the key to effectively implementing such a strategy and frequent informal work reviews, that are reward-based rather than punishment oriented can also help with this endeavor. The potential pitfalls of turning reviews into a…[continue]

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