The hospitality industry is no stranger to change – but unsurprisingly, due to the unprecedented circumstances of the last three years, hotel works have been affected on a greater scale than most other industries. As a result, burnout rates are high. Of course, preventing employee burnout is crucial at any time, but especially now with nearly all hotels experiencing staffing shortages, as indicated by an American Hotel & Lodging Association survey.
New research by leading HCM Provider, Ceridian, shows that burnout rates continue to run high among supermarket and hotel industry employees, with 20% workers analyzed experiencing burnout this year and last.
On its own, the hotel industry is doing better with a burnout rate of 13.6%. Yet some populations report higher levels than others. Salaried men in the hotel and supermarket industries, for instance, are 40% more likely to be experiencing burnout than women, and salaried workers are experiencing burnout at the rate of 23.6% vs. 18.8% for hourly workers. Burnout risk also increases with tenure, the study shows.
We also know the cost of burnout is high. Research shows that employees who say they very often or always experience burnout at work are 63% more likely to take a sick day—which can impact everything from housekeeping to restaurant service—and 2.6 times as likely to voluntarily leave their current employer.
Once workers experience full-fledged burnout, as evidenced by such things as diminished productivity, frequent absences, and a raise in negativity, they are unlikely to re-engage in their role. In the case of true burnout, the employee will need a change in role, job responsibilities or leadership in order to remain with your organization.
So, what can our hospitality leaders do to mitigate burnout and reduce employee turnover?
Goals and role clarity
Ensure employees know the goals of the organization, their job description, their goals and how their goals support organizational goals. Goals allow employees and managers to set boundaries by making it easier to deprioritize work that doesn’t align to the employees or organizational goals. Ensure goals are revisited often, at least monthly, allowing managers to have a better understanding of employee workload so they can assess and restructure unreasonable ones. The fact that salaried workers are seeing higher burnout rates than hourly workers could be that hourly employees are able to set more boundaries—using their contracted hours to help prevent exhaustion.
Conduct quarterly “stay” interviews for employees. Such interviews might cover topics such as why employees stay, what could cause them to leave, or what they aspire to in terms of the job, career, and company. Stay interviews give employees space to reflect on their roles and job satisfaction, further solidifying the employee to the organization. Stay interviews also build trust between the employee and their leader and organization. Stay interviews help employees see that their organization is listening and care about the experience they are having. In certain organizations, stay interviews have reduced employee turnover by 30%.
Stability and time away from work
In the hospitality industry, shifts can often be unpredictable, which can contribute to burnout. Monitor employees’ schedules for those who have not taken extended time off or who are working on days they’re supposed to be off. This helps identify those at increased risk of exhaustion. Modern scheduling technology can help both employers and employees keep track of this. Where possible, providing consistent, stable schedules can help reduce stress of employees by allowing them to plan for other things in their life like childcare and doctor appointments.
Revisiting compensation and benefits
Make sure compensation and benefits are competitive and attractive. This helps employees feel valued. The AHLA reports that 81% of hotels have increased wages and 64% have increased work hour flexibility. Financial wellness may be another avenue to help reduce employee stress. Almost half (46%) of employers now offer financial wellness programs, up from 40% in 2020. Benefits such as on-demand pay, which allows workers to access wages before traditional paydays, can provide increased financial control for workers at no extra cost to employers. Employees want this paycheck flexibility. In an EY study of workers in the U.S. and U.K., 80% of people indicated they would use on-demand pay to help with everything from budgeting to unexpected emergencies.
Promote a culture of recognition for everyone, from frontline workers to leaders, to keep employees engaged and to help them feel valued. Hotel workers have been significantly negatively affected by impacts of the pandemic, from lockdowns to worker shortages and then to surges of customers. Recognizing such resilience will go a long way to improving morale. On the other hand, a reduction in giving and receiving recognition leads to increased odds of burnout by 45% and 48%, respectively, research shows. Employee recognition and engagement efforts should be tailored to the diverse needs of workers. Recognizing employees in ways not meaningful to them can be disengaging. By understanding how each employee experiences recognition, leaders can reduce unintentional stress.
Paying attention to tenure
The Ceridian data shows that people who’ve been at an organization 12 to 24 months show high rates of burnout that then decreases in years 2-5. This is likely because the 12 to 24 month period is a critical point where employees decide if this company is for them or not. This makes sense as people with less than 12 months are still at a “new” job. By paying attention to an employees’ time at a company, managers can think creatively in different ways to motivate and recognize them. Also, keeping in mind that your highly tenured employees still want to grow, develop, and learn. For example, job rotations give workers insight into new areas that might engage them, help them develop new skills and understand the overall business better
Employees are an organization’s best asset. Especially in the hotel industry, employees are brand ambassadors who are critical to creating happy guests and customers. By investing in employee wellness, skills, interests, and career mobility, you’ll prevent burnout. By acting fast and paying attention, you’ll also mitigate burnout impacts.
The main takeaway here is to humanize the employee experience, make your employees feel valued, and ultimately, give them a reason to stay.
Brittany Schmaling, Sr. Data Analyst, Ceridian