In this post, we look at the staffing challenges hotels are facing during and after the pandemic, and how a digitized, connected workplace can attract talent and keep employees happy and safe. For similar topics about how new connected hotel technology enables hotel owners and operators to meet their business and sustainability goals, read our blog series.
Travel and tourism are a massive industry. Before COVID-19 struck, the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) reported that it supports one in 10 jobs worldwide with 2018 “experiencing 3.9% growth.” Now the bad news. Not only has the pandemic nearly shut down the hotel industry in the shorter term, in the longer term it’s estimated that the world will experience a global talent shortage of 85.2M people by 2030. This will be a huge shortage of labor in general, and skilled labor in particular. The pandemic may accelerate trends in how we work and kick-start digital transformations in many workplaces. Furthermore, it will change what employees expect from their workplace – with digital tools as a key component.
As pandemic-related restrictions loosen and travel re-opens, hotels will continue to feel the labor shortage as the industry already faces challenges with employee retention. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that, under normal conditions, hotels have been experiencing an annualized employee turnover rate of 73.8 percent, one of the highest of any industry.
Hotels face an aging workforce and need to attract and retain the next generation of talent. Experts estimate labor costs at up to 50 percent of a hotel’s operating budget, so it’s crucial that hotels invest in high-value people. But big turnover rates and low unemployment do not make this easy. If you are managing a hotel chain, what can you do? Fortunately, new technologies make hospitality work environments more attractive, while supporting employee success and job satisfaction.
Millennials Expect a Safe, Digital Workplace
Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. By that time, Gen Zs will also be joining. The expectations of these groups are driving change, which includes a digitally connected working environment and a healthy and safe workplace.
The newest connected hotel solutions are helping transform the workplace. From guest room management systems (GRMS), building management systems (BMS), and power management systems (PMS), digital tools make training and workflows easier and more rewarding, from the front desk to engineering and maintenance. Let’s see how.
How to Support Staff as Occupancy Levels Recover
1. Today’s Hotel Technology helps staff feel safe to return to work
All employees must feel safe and comfortable in their work environment and enjoy their surroundings. These factors keep staff motivated and happy, leading to better results. As hotels begin to reopen and welcome back on-property teams, owners and operators must consider how technology can facilitate a healthy and safe working environment. With additional burdens placed on employees to provide a higher level of cleanliness and safety for guests, let’s consider how technology can minimize the required extra work.
New digital solutions can offer improved hygiene and safety for staff and guests without detrimental impacts on the hotel experience. For example, voice technology and mobile apps are now being integrated into hotel systems to reduce touching high-use devices such as door locks, thermostats, and switches. Other solutions being trialed by some leading hotel operators include A/C optimization (e.g. increased fresh air, reduced recirculation, and UV sterilization) to limit possible pathogen spread through airborne droplets. The HVAC organization ASHRAE and some leading universities have recently published exciting research that shows how some simple changes to A/C systems can dramatically reduce pathogen spread among people.
Another interesting technology adapted for hotels is people counting / tracking systems. This technology can indicate when public areas like lobbies, restaurants, and gyms are reaching capacity to help maintain social distancing. Using smart sensors, these systems can also provide alarms or traffic light signage to guests and staff showing real-time occupancy levels in high use areas. This technology not only makes the environment safer for staff and guests but also automates an expensive and mundane task that would need full-time staffing.
2. Digital Connections Improve Communications
Once on the job, the connectivity and interoperability of new hotel technology gives personnel needed support. Communication becomes easier within, and among, teams. A digital request or question entered into the GRMS, can be automatically relayed to the appropriate manager or team.
Therefore, when an employee has an urgent problem, they can get an answer faster. If the employee sees a potential problem, they can collaborate with another team. If an issue falls outside their responsibility, the employee can connect immediately with the right team. For example, front desk staff can connect quickly with maintenance engineers.
When personnel can leverage digital connections, they feel less isolated. Getting support and sharing ideas makes a team happier and more engaged.
3. Connected Hotel Systems Lead to Less Stress, More Success
Beyond enabling communication, new connected hotel systems directly deliver the answers and control that hotel staff need to be more efficient and effective. Time-consuming manual tasks can be optimized.
Guest room management systems automate check in, room settings (e.g., temperature and language preferences), digital room key, and check-out requirements for front desk staff. Reducing these steps means staff can engage with guests in a relaxed way. The system keeps guests informed of services and offers and staff informed of guest requests or problems so they can respond immediately. When guests have the experience they expect, the staff has fewer guest complaints. The result: staff has a positive work environment and a greater feeling of accomplishment.
Similarly, hotel BMS and PMS give engineering and maintenance teams the tools needed to save time and stay ahead of problems. A fully digitized electrical and HVAC infrastructure keeps personnel alerted to risks and helps isolate sources, so teams can respond before an issue causes service downtime or a guest complaint. A light bulb can be replaced before guests are aware of a problem. Saving time makes the job easier, reducing stress. At the Fort Garry Hotel in Winnipeg, Canada, integrated building management and power management systems have reduced maintenance staff hours by 25 percent.
The bottom line: connected hotel systems and digital tools help your staff master jobs quickly, work more efficiently, eliminate mundane tasks, keep guests and management happier, and offer a safer place to work. In turn, hotel managers will be better prepared for the global talent shortage by attracting and retaining the best talent, and ensuring their staff feels valued and protected.
For More Information
Discover EcoStruxure™ for Hotels. Schneider Electric offers a complete range of sophisticated, integrated hotel solutions, including smart connected devices, guest room management systems, hotel power management systems, asset management systems, and advisory services. We also offer extensive, customized training programs for all our offers and free training courses on many aspects of energy and sustainability management.