Guest Service Presents for Human Essay

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¶ … guest service presents for Human Resources.

HR and guest services: The challenges of HR at hospitality organizations

Although HR is an important component of all modern organizations, this is particularly true of guest services in the hospitality industry. In sports venues, hotels, or any other type of customer-focused organization, an organization is truly only as good as the services it can offer its patrons. Employees are the face of the organization, and without the correct types of standard operating procedures, even the most luxurious entities will falter. However, one of the great challenges of hospitality HR is that there is often extremely high turnover within the industry at its lowest levels, as employees regard employment merely as temporary or do not take their duties particularly seriously because of low pay and poor compensation. A comprehensive HR approach regarding every facet of the hiring, retention, and promotions process is demanded to ensure that the staff is committed to realizing the organizational vision.

Recruitment

The first cornerstone of high-quality guest service in the hospitality industry is recruiting the right people. Although many of the skills in hospitality can be taught, character and a commitment to service cannot. Historically, many hospitality jobs have been regarded as relatively disposable at the entry level. But organizations are beginning to view the process differently, attempting to create an organizational ethos that is consistent from the bottom up. "Many hotels have begun treating employee recruitment at the same level as their corporate branding efforts, realizing that the two go hand-in-hand…traditional recruitment effort has completely shifted over the last several years. Today, you won't find so many hotel jobs advertised in the classified section of newspapers. Hotels are now using colorful full-page ads, job aggregators, and industry specific job boards to attract candidates to appealing 'careers' rather than jobs" (Sheth 1). If employees are encouraged to see their jobs as careers rather than as transient employment, they are more likely to invest their efforts with a level of panache and commitment which can translate into value and a source of brand differentiation for the organization.

Many cutting-edge hotel organizations are making use of social media to find high-quality staff. The legendary chain Marriott has even created a Facebook game to recruit young people, via a "hotel-themed online game…At 'My Marriott Hotel,' orders stack up at the restaurant. Meanwhile, the manager has to decide how many pieces of shrimp to buy for the shumai. The kitchen runs out of croutons for the Caesar salad and there's not enough money for a new stove" (Berzon 1). Not only does the presence of the game generate brand awareness: it creates an image for Marriott that is fun and youthful and shows that it is able to engage in innovative relationships with potential employees as well as customers.

Marriott takes recruiting very seriously and is also unusual in that it continues to accept walk-in applicants, despite the dominance of online applications at most chains, "helping local properties have a steady flow of interested candidates that are often local" (Sheth 1). Local candidates are more likely to be familiar with the ethos of the organization and are better able to give advice to guests about local attractions spanning from sports to arts to shopping. However, in contrast, the InterContiental chain of hotels takes a different approach, preferring employees with "a degree of appreciation for the world, rather than just their local market" and who "know how to work with different nationalities," believing that "a good InterContinental General Manager will probably have worked in at least three countries and three continents" (Sheth 1). It is believed that these employees are likely to be more culturally sensitive to the needs of diverse guests. Both the Marriott approach and the InterContiental point-of-view have their advantages, although they are quite distinct and reflect the atmosphere and approach to guest service each organization wishes to offer.

Selection

Careful selection is required of employees given that employees are literally the 'face' of a service-focused industry like hospitality. As well as recruiting employees who seem to wish to make hospitality their career, the selection process must likewise emphasize this fact. For example, at Marriott: "it's a goal of the company to keep employees and let them grow within the company," not simply to fill a position with someone like a college student who merely wants to pick up some extra cash over the summer (Sheth 1). Employees must take their work seriously. This stress upon Marriott as a 'career' versus transient employment. Different organizations may also select different character types, depending on the particular division for which they are recruiting. "For example, at Holiday Inn, we tend to recruit people who are extrovert and have a friendly demeanor and all the other things that go with our brand…At InterContinental, we try to recruit people that know how to deliver discreet service" (Sheth 1).

Training

Great service begins with great people but even the best characters must be honed and formed. Hospitality organizations must be willing to provide high-quality training if employees are to present a uniform, cohesive level of service to guests. Ideally, this training should communicate what is unique about the value given by the organization on an abstract level yet also be highly specific. "Give some examples of the types of things you'd expect to see them doing or hear them say…The more specific you are and more examples you give the easier it is for people to understand. Then lead by example so there are no mixed messages" ("How to achieve great customer service," Hotel Success Handbook, 2012). This is especially true regarding diversity awareness and dealing with guests of different cultural backgrounds. It cannot be assumed that employees instinctively know how to proceed when dealing with guests who are of other cultures.

Many hotels try to give trainees a guest's eye perspective and encourage them to see everything from the guest's point-of-view, often physically taking them on a tour of the premises to show them what guests' needs might be. "This helps them put the whole customer experience into perspective" ("How to achieve great customer service," Hotel Success Handbook, 2012).

Compensation and performance appraisals

Fair levels of compensation are required to show respect for employees and also to retain as well as recruit career-minded staff. In the past, the hospitality industry has been criticized for under-paying employees: "A comparison of salaries paid for jobs in the hospitality industry vs. those in other industries showed that the hospitality positions on average paid less for comparable positions" (Sturman 70). Middle-level jobs "averaged about 85% of wages paid in other industries" and upper-level jobs averaged "78% of compensation for top positions found in the sample of other industries. As a practical matter, such pay disparities encourage the best-qualified candidates to choose employment in other industries" (Sturman 70). An organization must be mindful about not being 'pennywise but pound foolish' in underpaying high-performing employees who offer high quality service to guests, thus encouraging them flee for better-paying positions elsewhere.

Another challenge for the hotel industry is that of performance appraisals. Particularly within the industry, a mixed assessment of sources is demanded. Customer surveys alone, for example, cannot be used because of potential biases and the occasional outlier of the perpetually critical customer who will complain regardless of service. There is also a great degree of subjectivity in terms of what is considered 'good' versus 'great' service. Thus, performance appraisals taking into consideration superior's perceptions as well as customer perceptions is essential, and eliminating highly idiosyncratic customer feedback may be required to give a truly fair portrait of a candidate's ability. Candidates should also have to give input themselves about their perceptions of the organization during the performance appraisal process "too much red tape, staff shortages, unreliable equipment or a poor product will only lead to frustration and is bound to have a knock-on effect on staff's ability to deliver great customer service" ("How to achieve great customer service," Hotel Success Handbook, 2).

Career progression and employee recognition

Of course, financial compensation alone is not enough to reward employees: Employees within this industry must also feel intrinsically 'internally' rewarded through the satisfaction they give to customers. Recognizing employees who go above and beyond when serving guests is vital. In addition to verbal recognition, promoting from within (a critical component of the Marriott chain) is another way to honor employees whose behaviors and values uphold the ethos of the organization. Recognizing employees requires honoring both short-term and long-term successes.

Conclusion

The critical challenge of hospitality organizations is that they face a high rate of employee turnover yet are reliant upon employees for the services they provide to guests to ensure guests return. HR must be an equally critical component of the organization's efforts as finding better ways to serve and attract guests. Employees are the face of the organization. Finding the right people, supporting them with extensive ongoing training and rewarding their efforts to retain high-quality staff is not simply… [END OF PREVIEW]

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