After graduating Hotel Management course, I worked few years in commercial Hotel before shifting to Academics in Hospitality Management Institute. Since then I have spent 34 years in Hospitality Academics. During this period, I have seen thousands graduating from the Hotel Management Institute. Many students had shared stories regarding the hard physical works they encounter on daily basis, nonstop, for years. Further, during my stay in the Hotel as a Guest, I too come across with few of my students working in those Hotel who narrated their experiences. Their experiences are worth listening and is a source of learning. After listening to many, I decided to pen their professional life experiences in my article. The experience stories narrated are almost the same for the people who work in food production (cooking), Food and Beverage service (waiter), House keeper & Front office Receptionists in the Hotel. I preferred to describe the story of hard physical works of an employee in a Resort Hotel.
Though I had met many Waiters, Chef, House boys and Receptionists, I preferred a name Rohit as a Hotel professional whose name will be referred many times in the story. Rohit is just an imaginary name in the real experience story, nothing intentional in name. In reality he can be Sam, can be Roger, can be Ajay or Kajal.
It was a small, decent destination resort on the bank of a river. All the seven days the occupancy level is above 80% and in weekends the Hotel is sold out frequently throughout the year. I decided to book a room in that resort during the week days expecting, the resort will be comparatively less crowded and the Covid-19 cases have reduced significantly. The check in time was 12 noon. I checked into the resort at 1 pm with my family. Then proceeded for lunch where a young boy Rohit greeted me in the Restaurant with a smile. After 45 minutes, once the lunch service was over, Rohit escorted us out of the restaurant with a smile and got himself introduced to me that he graduated from the Hotel Management Institute where I worked as a professor. I was so embarrassed and yet delighted too. I was embarrassed as I could not recognised him. I was delighted because I was happy to know that Rohit is working in the same Hotel and could recognise me. I decided to meet Rohit after his working hours. Rohit was little hesitant but he agreed to meet me. We met and talked at length. The detailed discussion confirmed my idea about the life of a Hotel personnel. Though I worked for few years in Hotel and had little experience. I have tried to remap the Hotel work experience of Rohit with few others in the industry.
Encountering the working life of a resort employee
THE DAY BEGINS
It is 8-hours job on paper but actually it stretches up to 12 hours in the Hotel operation which everyone will acknowledge in the food and beverage operation area. The Job of Rohit starts at 6am in the morning as he reports to the Hotel. Prepares the restaurant for the breakfast service. He and his team ensures that every table is complete in its laying and has the crockeries and cutleries etc. correctly. The restaurant opens at 7-30 am for the breakfast service. Generally, the breakfast buffet is laid out for the convenience in the service and for the comfort of the guests. Few live counters are too available for the freshly ordered food items. Few guests who are in hurry for sightseeing and other works check early into the restaurant for breakfast. The actual rush hours start from 8:00 am to 9:30 am generally in when the restaurant is full with the guests. Few wait for their seats. Serving around 80 guests at a time requires a real fast and efficient service staff with guest handling capability with care. By 10:30 am the Breakfast service gets over.
Soon after the Breakfast service, the service staff, clean, sanitise the restaurant and start preparing the restaurant for the Lunch service. Non-stop preparation work. The lunch service is generally elaborate and as per the guest’s order, hence the work is harder and careful in its way. The table is fully laid with elaborate crockeries, cutleries, quality napkins etc. The grooming standard of the service staff need to be hygienically presentable all the time. The service staff is occupied with works and so is the cooking staff all the time. The cooking staff gears up for the lunch food preparation after the breakfast service is over. They ensure that all ingredients for all dishes are ready for lunch. The chef checks the temperature of the refrigerators & its effective functioning, checks the cooking ranges, the exhaust, the gravies, the masalas, the presence & preparedness of the cooks and helpers etc. The chef has a small briefing session with all the cooks and helpers. At 12:30 pm the restaurant gets ready to welcome the guests for lunch service. The lunch service continues till 3 pm and during this period the kitchen staff and the food service staff are on high alertness. The restaurant closes for the lunch service at 3pm but the guests inside the restaurants enjoy their food till they complete their meals. The working shift for the employees who come at 6 am gets over and they practically leave at4 pm. Only few regular simple dishes are made available for the Hotel guests in emergency. The kitchen staff and the food service staff relax for sometimes (3-4 hours). But the cooks keep the ingredients ready in the kitchen for the dinner while the food service staff prepare the restaurant ready in all aspects for the dinner service. It’s all non-stop hard work for all.
At 7:30 pm the Restaurant opens for dinner. Generally, the majority of the employees who serve in restaurant remain present both in lunch and dinner service. But it is up to the management to engage the employees as per their suitability. The dinner food order is accepted till 11 pm normally. But depending on the number of guests, the dinner service sometimes gets extended. In practice, the restaurant closes by 12 at night. The food service staff clean, sanitise and prepares the restaurant ready for the morning breakfast service. It’s worth mentioning that the service employees and the cooks remain active in the food production & service throughout. This physical hard work continues the next morning for the breakfast preparation and service. This completes the one-day cycle for food & beverage employees and the cycle repeats itself on & on for years.
The employees in the house keeping department are busy in attending the room guests demand and requirements constantly. Around 10 am the check-out process starts generally. As soon as the guests vacate the rooms, the House keeping staffs start cleaning and sanitising the bed rooms and the wash rooms. They replenish the room linens, clean and sanitise the room. Replace the towels in the bathrooms. The replenishments of the amenities in the rooms and in wash room needs careful eyes and mind. Each room takes minimum 1-2 hours to prepare and make it saleable to the guests. The preparation of the room goes on throughout the day. The front office employees stand continuously on their feet and handle the guests from morning to evening. Dealing in finance and satisfying the checking in guests & checking out guest remains always a challenge for the front office employees.
This work cycle continues always in all the four core departments and the employees perform these works continuously. The employees get very less period to relax during their 8-12 hours work schedule. Sometimes the shoes and socks on their feet troubles the employees badly with painful infection in their legs which forces them to discontinue from their jobs resulting attrition. The large banquets in Hotel further puts lot of physical stress on the employees. Rohit says in all the festivals the employees are generally not allowed to avail their leaves. Be it Holi or Diwali, when the general public enjoys in the Hotel, the Hotel employees remain present in the Hotel to provide services. This becomes a regular feature in their service period that they even miss the opportunity to be with their family during the festivals or functions. Such developments put mental pressure on the employees and on their performance. Probably this is one of the reason that causes the high attrition percentage in the Hotel sectors.
Considering all the facts and challenges in the life of the Hotel employees and the attrition rate in the organised Hotel, I propose few recommendations for the employee retentions and development of the Human resources in the Hotel industry which are as below.
• The duty hours of the Hotel employees should be as per the prevailing government rules in the state.
• The salary and wages should be provided as per the government rules applicable in the locations.
• The applicable weekly break should be given to the employees mandatorily.
• There should be a unique and universal PF number for each Hotel employee in India so that whenever an employee leaves a Hotel, he can withdraw his contributions whenever he wants. Generally, it is observed that a Hotel employee changes his job frequently and does not bother to collect the PF from the relevant office as the withdrawal process is cumbersome and time consuming
• Each Hotel should plan a career development path for the employee so that the employee gets motivation to work in the same Hotel for considerable period which may reduce attrition rate
• The lateral entries in Hotel should be discouraged in the promotional positions for the existing staff which may help in retention of the staff.
• The Job security sense must be instilled among the employees of the Hotel.
• The Hotel employee’s work life balance need to be recognised.
• The employee need to be involved in decision making.
• Family get-together need to be arranged periodically.
• Employee’s health concern must be dealt properly.