Mr. Ferrara

Human Resources, Recruitment & Training

Worker Burnout: Five Solutions to Help Hotel Workers to Achieve Better Work/Life Balance

By Jason Ferrara, Vice President, Corporate Marketing, CareerBuilder

In good economies and bad, hotel workers have a wide variety of issues they face, from advancement to workplace politics to performance reviews. As a hotel leader, staying on top of these issues is crucial to the success of your organization - your people make your business what it is.

One issue affecting your staff that has moved to the forefront in this difficult economy is worker burnout. The fallout of the recession has affected workers in all industries, companies of all shapes and sizes, in every state nationwide, and hotel workers are no exception. While some signs of economic stabilization have started to emerge, many hotel workers are still handling heavier workloads due to downsized staff levels - a stressful situation that can often result in burnout.

In fact, recent CareerBuilder research found that half of hospitality workers percent workers reported they have taken on more responsibility at work because of layoffs at their workplace. An additional47 percent said they are handling the work of two people. And 32 percent said they feel burned out.

With never ending task lists and heightened anxiety, workers are accommodating for those increased workloads by not taking the time to decompress outside of work. In fact, to make up for growing to-do lists, 41 percent of workers who kept their jobs after a layoff reported they are spending more time at work. An additional 14 percent are putting in at least 10 hours per day.

With burnout common in this current economy, it is essential for hotel leaders to address the problem. When burnout is handled properly and workers are at their full potential, both hotels and employees reap the rewards: hotels then have their staff working at full capacity to best serve their guests, ultimately impacting their bottom line, and workers are more likely to achieve their career goals and be productive. In addition, hotels that encourage work/life balance are more likely to attract future top talent who value that balance in their lives.

So, what can you do to help put out the fire?

I recommend the following five solutions to help your hotel employees avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work/life balance:

1. Reach out

You've definitely got a lot of things on your plate. Reaching out to your employees to gauge their workloads, happiness and balance is critical, though, and should be moved to the top of your priority list. When workers feel that you listen to their issues and are open to their feedback, they are more likely to put the best effort into their jobs. If they're ignored or their voices are lost in the crowd, they're likely to be less engaged.

So ask yourself, "Do I keep the lines of communication open with my workers? Am I easily accessible to my employees?" If you're not sure, or you answered "no," now is the time to kick your communication into high gear.

Consider having open office hours a few times a week so employees can drop in and voice their concerns or accomplishment. Send out employee quarterly employee surveys to get their feedback on current programs, schedules and more. Making an effort to communicate effectively can really show your employees that you are available to help make their day-to-day life as fulfilling as possible.

2. Encourage them to recharge

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, we can sometimes forget out how beneficial just a few days off from work can be, especially as longer days and heavy workloads are more prevalent. A little rest and relaxation can go a long way, often resulting in more productive workers in the long run.

Some hotel workers are reluctant to use their time off, though, because they are afraid of losing their jobs or feel guilty leaving the work for others. And some simply just can't afford it.

Recent CareerBuilder research found that four-in-ten hospitality workers didn't plan on taking a vacation at all in 2009, with 10 percent of those workers indicating that they were afraid of losing their jobs and 13 percent saying that they felt guilty being away from work. Three-in-ten said they just couldn't afford a taking time off from work this year.

As a hotel leader, it's important for you to encourage your employees to use their time off. Even if they are reluctant to take time away, ensure them that they won't be punished for taking time off. Employees of all levels need a break. Make sure yours know that you value them when they're doing their best work, made possible by recharging their batteries when they need it.

3. Explore flexible work arrangements

Many employers are being more proactive when it comes to offering flexible work arrangement for employees. Often, employees find that flexible work arrangements make them more productive than ever before and it can help with their career progress: this is a win-win for hotel leaders. In addition, offering flexible work arrangements can make you an attractive organization in the eyes of job candidates.

Consider offering some sort of flexible work program to help your employees manage their stress levels. In the current economy, it may be difficult to offer plentiful monetary benefits, so flexible work arrangements can be a great alternative to reward your employees.

Some examples of flexible work programs for your hotel include:

• Alternative schedules - let your employees come in early and leave early or come in later and leave later. • Compressed work weeks - allow workers to work the same hours, but in fewer days. • Job Sharing - let more than one person share the same position within your hotel. This can provide workers with a great work/life balance, while still letting them forward their career. For hotel leaders, this can be used as a way to attract talent as well as reduce burnout.

4. Improve wellness initiatives

Working out, eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of rest are essential to do good work. Yet, many workers may feel too burned out to take care of themselves.

Workplace wellness programs are one way to tackle this issue as they encourage workers to stay fit. Gaining even more popularity as health care costs continue to rise, wellness initiatives also may be able to prevent serious health problems down the road.

It can be an official program, like offering a monthly stipend for health club costs, or something simpler like start a running/walking club or bringing in a nutritionist to lecture on healthy eating. Regardless, a wellness program is a great way to help keep your staff healthy, and ultimately, happy. In addition, like flexible work arrangements, a wellness program can be a great way to attract potential candidates.

5. Increase frequency of performance reviews

In tough times, some workers may be fearful of performance reviews and some managers may feel too bogged down to conduct them. Reviews should not be pushed to the back burner, though. They are highly beneficial. The type of feedback performance reviews offer make employees feel valued and engaged - key points to preventing burnout.

If you're not doing performance reviews currently, now's a great time to get started. If you're doing them a few times a year, think about increasing their frequency. Even if it's not part of your formal process, make sure your staff has regular check-ins with their managers to discuss most importantly their successes, but also their workload, work/life/balance, frustrations and any other issues.

There are many possible strategies for you to consider when tackling the issue of worker burnout. Before selecting some, evaluate your current staff and consider which will be best for your organization. If you can work with your employees to come up with a solution you're both comfortable with, they will be ever-so-grateful - and it will likely show in the quality of their work.

Learning how to best manage worn down employees will be a lesson that will prove highly beneficial in these tough times - and it will be an important asset as the economy recovers. If you are known as a hotel where people want to work and have a healthy work/life balance, you'll be that much more likely to recruit top talent, retain them and be competitive.

Jason Ferrara leads the development of strategic marketing for the Corporate Marketing team at CareerBuilder.com, the nation's largest online job site with over 22 million unique visitors each month and over 1.5 million jobs. Focused on the recruitment needs of employers, Ferrara is responsible for business-to-business strategy including communications, advertising, promotions, e-commerce management, customer lifecycle and loyalty, and sales support. Prior to joining the company, Ferrara worked as Director, Online Marketing for SPSS, Inc. He holds a MBA from Kellogg School of Management. Mr. Ferrara can be contacted at 773-353-2601 or jason.ferrara@careerbuilder.com Extended Bio...

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