Challenges for working in the hospitality Industry
The hospitality industry is one of the largest and fastest growing industries that provides employment, tax revenue and makes substantial contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many countries. In spite of its importance to the nation’s economy, it is bequeathed with significant challenges, key of which are associated with its workforce. This report reveals key challenges of employees in the hospitality industry to include stressful working condition, lack of motivation and remuneration and lack of social dialoque (unionization). The challenges the industry is faced with about its workers include low level of competence and quality and high turnover rate. High turnover are usually the results of the dissatisfaction of employees within the industry.
The hospitality industry is one of the largest and fastest growing industries that provides employment, tax revenue and makes substantial contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many countries (Ottenbacher, Gnoth & Jones, 2006, p. 43). The industry is estimated to employ about 10 percent of the global work force both directly and indirectly. In Ghana, the tourism and hospitality sector is seen as a major potential engine of growth and development. The ability of this industry to generate employment and reduce poverty has never been under estimated. The sector is currently the fourth largest foreign exchange earner for the country. The industry is also said to have employed 487,000 in 2017 (MoT, 2013). In 2011, the tourism sector contributed 4.4 percent to Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). With regards to tax revenue, the sector generated USD 194 million in 2010 and this figure is also expected to rise to USD 1.3 billion by 2027 (MoT, 2013). In spite of its importance, the industry is characterized by employee-related challenges.
The word “hospitality” connotes a sense of “warmth” provided to guests for a fee. Thus, the first lesson that one learns in the hospitality industry is putting the customer first. However, what one forgets is that probably the most effective way of getting highly satisfied customer is by putting employees first. This is because satisfied employees lead to satisfied customers. Perhaps nowhere this truth is more relevant than in the hospitality industry (Chen, 2007, p.8). This is why challenges related to the workforce requires critical attention and needs to be addressed both from the worker’s point of view and also from the industry’s point of view. This article addresses the challenges associated with employees working within the hospitality industry, with emphasis on the Ghanaian hospitality industry.
Challenges employees face working in the hospitality industry
Challenging Working Conditions
The most obvious and dominant challenges employees of the hospitality industry faces are those related to working conditions. Consumer demand patterns in hotels and restaurants require working conditions that are frequently characterized as unsocial and irregular working hours in the form of split shifts, weekend shifts, nightshifts, or work during holiday periods. These working conditions heighten stress on workers, especially those with family responsibilities who carry the majority of the care burden for children and the elderly as well as for household chores. (Chen, 2007, p.12)
A divergence between qualifications and workplace reality is observable for women, who make up between 60 and 70 per cent of the labour force. Unskilled or semi-skilled women tend to work in the most vulnerable jobs, where they are more likely to experience poor working conditions, inequality of opportunity and treatment, violence, exploitation, stress and sexual harassment. They also suffer segregation in terms of access to education and training. Women are on average paid 25 per cent less in the sector than male workers for comparable skills. (ILO, 2015)
Poor employee Motivation
The predominance of casual, temporary, seasonal and part-time employment is related to insecurity, comparatively low pay (frequently below the national average), job instability, and limited career opportunity (Morrison, & O’Mahony, 2003, p.52). In essence, employees are faced with very low or lack of motivation within the hospitality industry. Considering that the working environment of the hospitality industry is a stressful type, the lack of adequate motivational factors such as better salary, job security and career opportunity progress, demoralizes workers and causes dissatisfaction at workplace.
Lack of Social Dialogue (Unionization)
The sector thrives in an environment where management–labour relations in the workplace are essential to providing quality service. These relationships can be developed through the effective use of social dialogue which is fundamental for decent and productive work through the preservation of equality, freedom of association, security and human dignity (Baum, 2010, p.59). Social dialogue plays a key role in helping low-skilled workers with limited industrial experience adapt to their new workplace. It also helps hotels and restaurants face sector-linked challenges such as: shift work regulation, OSH, job classification, payment and wages including tips and service charges, skills development, gender equality, youth employment, migrant labour and child labour (OECD, 2014).
In a study by Gregory (2015), workers expressed concern that the industry‘s enterprises are not sufficiently engaged in social dialogue and instead have limited communication between management and the workforce, weak representation of workers and low union density. This may be due to the fragmented structure within the industry as well as a high proportion of ever-changing young and otherwise marginalized workers who are unaware of their rights (ILO, 2015). The low level of women‘s participation in workers‘ organizations, with even fewer women at higher levels of representation, often puts them in a weaker bargaining position. Gender issues, such as workplace safety, including workplace violence, are often insufficiently addressed (OECD. 2014). The hospitality sector‘s predominance of SMEs in some regions of Ghana, the use of short-term or seasonal employment, and the subcontracting of activities to other sectors/companies hinders unionization and the ability to develop management–employee relations.
Challenges the industry face when working with the workers
Low Competent and quality workers
One very pertinent problem in the hotel industry in Ghana as related to the workforce is the general low competence of personnel in various positions at our hotels. Although the relatively bigger hotels employ highly trained and skilled personnel in management, marketing, food and beverage etc. to take care of the operations of these hotels, the very small ones usually pay less attention to this detail (Lewis, 2013, p.9). Baum (2010, p.2) used a mail survey to unearth important challenges associated with employees’ competencies from hotel managers’ perspectives, and found low level of competence in areas such as operational analysis, on-the-job training, negotiation, management of service encounter, creativity skills to perform effectively, maintaining a professional appearance, good communication skills and relationship with customers and colleagues. When employees exhibit low levels of competencies, it affects the hospitality industry as interpersonal relationships with guests as well as technical know-how for marketing and general management becomes a problem. In the end, avoidable mistakes are made and this hampers the growth of the individual hotels and restaurants and in the long term, the development of the entire industry (Morrison, & O’Mahony, 2003).
High turnover rate
The US department of Labor (2017) reports that average Labor turnover in Ghana increased from 19.2% in 2013 to 20.2% in 2014, indicating the hotel and catering industry as having the highest labour turnover. Employees’ turnover within the hospitality industry is a much studied problem in Ghana. Catherine (2012) indicated that the hospitality industry is noted for high turnover compare to other organizations. Turnover is the rotation of workers around the labor market; between firms, jobs and occupations (Abassi et al., 2010) and the ratio of the number of organizational members who have left during the period divided by the average number of people in the organization Beam (2011). High turnover can be harmful to company’s productivity, if skilled workers are often leaving and the worker population contains high percentage of novice workers (Davidson, 2009).
According to (Meaghan et al., 2012), the hospitality industry, for decades, have struggled with low retention behavior of its workers, and have attributed the cause to several factors such as employees’ dissatisfaction with low pay and long working hours, organizational culture where there is lack of morale and low levels of motivation among workforce, and individual factors such as family situation, a desire to learn a new skill or trade or an unsolicited job offer. These are all issues the management of the hospitality industry are faced with. Some of the problems that leads to low retention rate are trait-based or personality features, such as loafing, absenteeism, theft, substance abuse on the job, and sabotage of employer’s equipment or production. The manpower situation in Ghanaian Hospitality industry is quite serious (Tor et al., 2007, p.54). The current supply of skilled/professionally trained manpower is estimated to be a very dismal 8.92 percent to the total requirement as per a study commissioned by the Ministry of Tourism.
Turnover can lead to a number of negative outcomes including decline in the quality of work and worker loyalty as well as in generating considerable costs to hospitality employers in terms of loss of skills and sunk costs in training. The costs that contribute to the expense of replacing a worker mainly emerge from pre-departures, recruitment, selection, orientation and training as well as lost productivity which represents the largest share of total costs (up to 70 per cent) and is caused by the inexperience of new employees. Based on data from properties located in the United States from comparatively low-complexity jobs, turnover costs were about US$5,700 compared to US$10,000 for high-complexity jobs (ILO, 2015).
The importance of the labour force in the hospitality industry cannot be over emphasized, yet the industry seem to have the highest turnover rate due to challenging working conditions under which its workers function. The management of the hospitality industry should therefore take immediate measures to addresses the labour-related challenges identified in this report.
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Morrison, A., O‟ Mahony, G. B., 2003. The liberation of hospitality management education. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 15(1), 38-44.
Davidson, A. A. 2009. Future of hotel education: Required skills and knowledge for graduates of U.S. hospitality programs beyond the year 2000-Part one. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Education, 13(5), 58-67.
Ministry of Tourism, 2013. National tourism development plan (2013-2027). Accra: Ministry of Tourism.
Baum, T., 2010. Management trainees in the hotel industry: What do managers expect? Journal of European Industrial Training, 15(2), 3-8
Chen Y. Y & Hsu, S. Y., 2007. An experiment and planning of curriculum for preparing practical competencies of Hospitality Management students. Asian Journal of Management and Humanity Studies, 1(4), 577-589.
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