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...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
General Search:

OCTOBER: Revenue Management: Technology and Big Data

Steve  Van

Do you have a catering assistant whose first question each morning is Did we sell out? or What was our occupancy and ADR last night? What about a front office associate who is so hungry to earn the perfect sell incentive that every time she works the 3:00 to 11:00 shift and the hotel has just a few rooms left to sell, you can count on the fact that you are going to end up with a perfect sell? If so, you may have just found your next revenue manager! READ MORE

Will Song

Airbnb is less than a decade old, but it has already begun to make waves in the travel industry. The online marketplace where individuals can list their apartments or rooms for guests to book has been able to secure a surprisingly stable foothold for itself. This has caused some hoteliers to worry that there’s a new competitor in the market with the potential to not only take away market share but drive prices down lower than ever. Let’s take a closer look at how Airbnb fits into the industry right now and then walk through the steps of the ways your hotel revenue management strategy can be adapted to the age of Airbnb. READ MORE

Brian Bolf

Revenue management tends to be one of the most challenging hospitality disciplines to define, particularly due to the constant evolution of technology. Advancements in data processing, information technology, and artificial intelligence provide our industry with expanded opportunities to reach, connect, and learn from our guests. Ultimately, the primary goals of revenue management remain constant as the ever-evolving hospitality industry matures. We must keep these fundamentals top of mind, while proactively planning for the tighter targets that lay ahead. That said, how can we embrace these innovations, operate under constricted parameters, and learn from the practices used today to achieve our same goals moving forward? READ MORE

Sanjay  Nagalia

Every year, it seems as though the hospitality industry faces more competition, new opportunities to leverage their data, and difficult organizational challenges to overcome to remain competitive in a hypercompetitive marketplace. The popularity of the sharing economy, dominating OTAs and a growing generation of often-puzzling consumers all give pause to hotels as they strategize for a more profitable future. Hotels have been feeling the heat from OTA competition for several years, causing many organizations to double down on their efforts to drive more direct bookings. Revamped loyalty programs, refined marketing campaigns and improvements to brand websites have all become primary focuses for hotel brands looking to turn the tables on their online competition. READ MORE

Coming Up In The November Online Hotel Business Review

Feature Focus
Architecture & Design: Authentic, Interactive and Immersive
If there is one dominant trend in the field of hotel architecture and design, it’s that travelers are demanding authentic, immersive and interactive experiences. This is especially true for Millennials but Baby Boomers are seeking out meaningful experiences as well. As a result, the development of immersive travel experiences - winery resorts, culinary resorts, resorts geared toward specific sports enthusiasts - will continue to expand. Another kind of immersive experience is an urban resort – one that provides all the elements you'd expect in a luxury resort, but urbanized. The urban resort hotel is designed as a staging area where the city itself provides all the amenities, and the hotel functions as a kind of sophisticated concierge service. Another trend is a re-thinking of the hotel lobby, which has evolved into an active social hub with flexible spaces for work and play, featuring cafe?s, bars, libraries, computer stations, game rooms, and more. The goal is to make this area as interactive as possible and to bring people together, making the space less of a traditional hotel lobby and more of a contemporary gathering place. This emphasis on the lobby has also had an associated effect on the size of hotel rooms – they are getting smaller. Since most activities are designed to take place in the lobby, there is less time spent in rooms which justifies their smaller design. Finally, the wellness and ecology movements are also having a major impact on design. The industry is actively adopting standards so that new structures are not only environmentally sustainable, but also promote optimum health and well- being for the travelers who will inhabit them. These are a few of the current trends in the fields of hotel architecture and design that will be examined in the November issue of the Hotel Business Review.