From chefs and waitstaff to hotel clerks and housekeeping, essential workers in the hospitality industry feel overworked, underappreciated and burned out. These are demanding jobs at any time, but they’ve been especially impacted by labor shortages, which have hit the hospitality industry hard.
According to a survey conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), 87% of hotels are experiencing a staffing shortage, and 36% indicate that those shortages are severe. Eighty-seven percent of restaurant operators say they’ll likely hire additional employees during the next 6–12 months if qualified applicants are available, according to the National Restaurant Association's 2023 State of the Restaurant Industry report.
With inflation continuing to drive up wages and increase worker stress, these shortages are unlikely to ease anytime soon.
Maintaining profitability requires that businesses focus on maximizing employee productivity, reducing turnover, and attracting sufficient talent to deliver valued customer experiences. As a result, investing in employee experience is an imperative for the hospitality industry.
Deskless workers want the same benefit of flexibility as their corporate counterparts. Because they provide meaningful customer experience, these employees serve critical roles, which makes supporting and engaging them essential to maximizing top-line revenue.
These workers want some say in their schedules, so they can balance family and other personal needs. Attracting new employees requires new forms of flexibility to compete with the modern employment paradigms that younger people in the gig economy value. While many of these jobs must be performed in specific locations, giving employees a larger voice in when and how much they work is the major step in creating a more engaging environment.
Prioritize Employee Experience
One way to show deskless employees that they’re valued is through modern workforce management systems that prioritize their experience.
This next-gen technology offers scalable, secure, and consumer-grade time, task management, and scheduling and integrates into the flow of work to achieve operating results through worker effectiveness, automation, and optimization. Modern workforce management goes hand in hand with a surging focus on frontline workers’ experience and dedicated innovations for that purpose. Primarily designed for use via smartphones and tablets, frontline employee experience technology delivers distinctive engagement and a sense of community.
Modern workforce management technology aligns company requirements with employee data, such as personal leave, availability hours, and skill level. These capabilities help businesses manage optimal staffing outcomes, while providing more flexibility and better work-life balance to reduce fatigue for shift workers.
It allows employees to stay up to date on important company announcements and training, saving them from having to stay after their shifts to sort through updates or attend training on their days off. In addition, by enabling staff to set their availability, modern workforce management gives companies a wider range of candidates who are willing to work – and talent they might not have found otherwise – which is critical in a tight labor market.
The High Cost of Outdated Systems
Crucially, modern workforce management solutions offer a means of real-time communications, so employees and managers can adapt rapidly to changing schedules to balance employee desires and operational needs, while complying with things like federal regulations and union rules.
The breakdown late last year of Southwest Airlines offers a stark example of how important it is for companies to invest in modern workforce systems that enable rapid communication and agility – and the potentially devastating impact on their brand and bottom line if they don’t. Although Southwest likely invested millions of dollars in customer-facing and production systems, a key reason for its mass cancellations was its use of outdated workforce scheduling and communications software for its frontline workers.
Predictions for 2023 and Beyond
The use of technology by hospitality businesses over the past few years has helped alleviate worker stress through solutions like mobile check-in and automation of administrative tasks.
Modern workforce technology in particular plays an essential role in improving employee experience. It enables real-time communications, instant access to information workers need to stay productive, and feedback loops to support proactive improvement plans informed by the workers who know best what customers are asking for and the barriers to delivery. All these capabilities are easily accessible through mobile devices.
With inflationary pressures expected to continue well into 2023, we’ll see more investment in technologies that address the needs of the modern workforce, but this trend will extend past this year. Gartner in its Market Guide for Workforce Management Applications predicts that by 2025, “80% of large enterprises with hourly paid workers will have invested in workforce management solutions to support employee experience and/or digital workplace initiatives.”
And, according to Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Human Capital Management Technology, 2022, “By the end of 2025, 35% of large enterprise organizations will have a dedicated budget for Human Capital Management (HCM) technology innovation, up from 10% today.” Gartner emphasizes that these organizations will primarily focus on Next-Gen Workforce Management and Frontline Worker Employee Experience Technology.
Modern Workforce Management is a Competitive Imperative
Modern workforce management systems have emerged as the single greatest enabler for companies to transform their organizations by allowing them to tap into the power of their people and treat them as the valuable resources they are. They increase employee satisfaction, improve operational efficiency, support innovation and agility, and position hospitality companies to boost their competitiveness now and in the future.
About the Author
Sandra Moran is Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer, WorkForce Software .