Training and Retaining Quality Employees Essay

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On the other hand, Harris suggests that some observers believe high turnover among employees is "not only inevitable, but also desirable… [because] employee mobility within the industry promotes workforce flexibility, allowing employees to acquire and develop new skills as they move through different organizations" (73). Harris takes it one step further when he reports that the "acquisition of transferable skills" has a powerful appeal to the "entrepreneurial aspirations of hospitality employees." Hence, Harris points out on page 73, "turnover is actively encouraged" by some leaders in the hospitality industry, along with ambitious workers, because this high turnover practice helps to "…create future managers for the industry." Moreover, turnover can be seen as a positive dynamic because "new ideas" are thus brought into the workplace -- as a way to "prevent stagnation in creativity" -- although in reality HR managers are often loathe to see highly energized, talented staff leave the fold for more money elsewhere (Harris, 73).

One group of employees that HR managers do not wish to see depart are the "knowledge workers" -- management employees -- because the loss of these employees "can incur considerable financial cost" related to the investment of time and money that went into recruiting, hiring and developing those employees (73). Looking at Harris's arguments from a practical standpoint, he is correct that some turnover is a good thing because it (in some cases) brings fresh, creative talent into a venue, talent that has experience in the hospitality and can bring existing staff members up a notch in terms of sophistication. However, turnover can also work the other way; a new hire can bring baggage with him or her and poison the atmosphere for otherwise competent, contented employees.

The job duties and responsibilities that an HR manager is accountable for in a hospitality context are certainly made more difficult and in some cases highly stressful because so many employees come and go. Professor Salih Kusluvan of the Nevsehir University Faculty of Tourism in Turkey points to International Labor Organization (ILO) statistics that show the turnover rate for "operational employees" is 51.7% in the United States (Kusluvan, 2003, p. 5). The author asserts that the turnover in hospitality venues is highest among operational level employees (which, as pointed out earlier, hurts hotels the most in terms of hiring and training new staff), and the lowest grades of employees. Those in the middle apparently stay longer in one place, if the ILO data is correct.

The turnover rate in the UK is about 42% and in Asia it is lower, about 30% per year, the author explains on page 5. Reading Kusluvan's narrative, one could come to believe that turnover is just part of the work culture in the hospitality industry. No big deal at all, he implies, is the fact that the average job tenure in the United States hospitality industry is about one and a half years (6). In the United Kingdom the typical job tenure for hospitality workers is 18 months to two years; this is true "even among the best practice employers," Kusluvan continues (6). What are the factors in the hospitality industry (whether in the U.S. Or UK) that lead to these situations involving very short terms of employment? Kusluvan lists several key reasons: a) seasonal tourism fluctuations; b) unforeseen "social, economic and political disruptions"; c) internal opportunities within individual hotels for expansion; d) "poor working conditions and human resource practices (i.e. poor compensation and benefits, long working hours)"; e) the industry does not always convey an attractive image; f) employment opportunities in other industries that lure people away from hospitality; g) "lack of career structure"; and h) the "intrinsically transient nature of part of the workforce" (Kusluvan, 6).

On page 11 the author offers another reason for the turnover rate in hospitality, and that is the fact that "trade union membership in the tourism and hospitality industry has historically been low." In the past few years union membership in the UK dropped from 6 to 3%, and in the U.S. only about 14% of hospitality workers are unionized (or were, as of 2003). When a person is in a union, he or she is more apt to stay in one position because as a rule the union assures more stable benefits and security as well.

The hospitality industry turnover rate in the Middle Eastern nation of Jordan has, like other areas of the world been quite high, so a survey was conducted in the journal Research and Practice in Human Resource Management (Altarawneh, et al., 2010, p. 46). Two hundred and fifty hotel employees in Jordan took the survey, which was a self-administered structured questionnaire. The salient question asked in the survey was: "To what extent are organisational Human Resource (HR) practices in the HTL sector congruent with the expectations of employees?" (Altarawneh, 72). Once the data was analyzed, it was learned that over half of the participants "intended to leave their hotel employment in the near future"; however their interest in leaving was not related to age, Altarawneh explains.

Basically the survey demonstrated to researchers that graduates of hospitality colleges in Jordan (likely not that different from graduates in other countries) view their contract with hotels in "relational terms"; but in addition, the survey shows that HR managers have "underestimated or misunderstood" the expectations of the average graduate that is now an employee of a hotel (Altarawneh, 72). To wit, there appear to be "significant differences in expectations" between graduates and HR managers, the author continues on page 72. Graduate employees, having finished their training and having been recently hired into a field they dreamed of working in, are more concerned with "immediate and short-term issues of equity and job variety and HR practices linked to pay and conditions," Altarawneh explains. But HR management has its eye on "longer-term career development opportunities" for new employees, which puts the newly hired graduate and HR executives at odds, right from the start of their professional relationship.

The bottom line for this particular article and survey has applications for HR managers everywhere, not just in Jordan. And that is, as Altarawneh asserts, failure to develop HR strategies that zero in on what is important to graduates (and by implication, all new employees in positions of responsibility) may be "working against" relational contracts. Graduates just hired exploit the training and development strategies and shortly thereafter they leave for "better conditions and more interesting work elsewhere" (Altarawneh, 72).

How to reverse the high rate of turnover is the theme of an article in the journal Human Resources Management (Hausknecht, et al., 2009 p. 269). To find out "what makes employees stay" with any one particular hospitality venue this research paper developed a model of 12 retention factors and analyzed the "open-ended responses from 24,829 employees in the leisure and hospitality industry" (Hausknecht, 269).

The results of those 24,829 surveys were not the least bit surprising, but should be noted by HR managers in every corner of the world. The following reasons were given as to why employees stay on the job in the hospitality industry: "job satisfaction, extrinsic rewards, constituent attachments, organizational commitment, and organizational prestige" (Hausknecht, 269). Employees in other fields could give these reasons, too. But moreover, it seems logical that if employees are not rewarded in at least some small way, and employees don't view that the hotel they work for as a prestigious venue, and don't feel like there is a commitment to making that hotel an excellent place, then why stay? The employees termed "high performers" and salaried (as opposed to hourly wage) employees were most likely to cite "advancement opportunities and organizational prestige as reasons for staying" (Hausknecht, 269).

The Literature -- Training Strategies in Hospitality Venues

"The 'wow' services are difficult to quality. The 'wow' service is really in the hands of service personnel who can exceed guest expectations by giving them quality service… [which] depends on the profile of the employee, his/her motivation and mood on a given day" (Andrews).

An article in the Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism reports on a study among 56 hotel managers in the Norwegian Hospitality Association relative to what training methods work the best for these executives and their HR managers. Those who responded to the survey were asked to rate the effectiveness of 15 different training methods "for prospective use in six training situations" (Furunes, 2005, p. 231). The methods included the following: "case study; videotape; lecture; one-to-one training, role-play; games; computer simulations; paper-and-pencil-programmed instruction; audiotapes; self-assessments; movies/films; multi-media presentations; computer-assisted instruction; videoconferences; and sensitivity training" (Furunes, 231).

The six objectives of the various training strategies included: a) knowledge acquisition; b) "changing attitudes"; c) "problem solving"; d) development of "interpersonal skills"; e) participant acceptance; and f) "knowledge retention" (Furunes, 231).

The best training method that HR personnel found to be useful in Norway's hospitality industry was "one-to-one training," Furunes explains. The responses from hotel executives…[continue]

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