HR in the hospitality sector: Part 3

16 Mar

What will be the keys to successful HR hospitality management in the future?

Hours and scheduling have long been a point of concern for the hospitality industry. With fluctuating schedules, it can be difficult to keep all employees correctly classified and content with their shifts. However, it's absolutely critical for HR departments to be proactive in this area, coming up with human resource solutions that ensure compliance with government regulations and guarantee employee satisfaction remains as high as possible.

Proposed FLSA changes would require attention from HR managers
Changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act that would alter which employees qualify for "white collar exemptions" to overtime pay mandates will soon be issued for public review and comment by the Department of Labor's Wage & Hour Division.

When finalized, these changes could have a significant impact on many employers, and the hospitality industry in particular. Currently, employees must earn a minimum wage of $455 weekly to be exempt from overtime pay. However, this threshold could rise considerably – in January, the Economic Policy Institute proposed raising it to $50,000 annually, which equates to roughly $960 weekly. 

Wages are only a part of what will qualify an employee for an exemption. The proposed new regulations could now require white collar employees to be performing overtime exempt duties for more than 50 percent of his or her working hours. That would disqualify managers who spend much of their days stocking, assisting customers or working a cash register from being overtime exempt.

If these speculated changes are implemented, wage costs in the hospitality industry could rise dramatically. To prepare, HR teams should begin documenting all job descriptions, highlighting those roles that would remain overtime exempt based on wage and performing managerial duties at least half of the time they're working. Careful payroll management and budget planning will also be essential – if a great deal of a company's employees are no longer exempt from overtime pay, the business will determine how it will be able to pay their higher wages, or if this warrants hiring additional white collar workers.

Managing shift-based work stress
When you're managing a shift-based workforce, you need the right scheduling tools to make the job easy – and a knowledge of how to address common problems that come with this type of work. Many of your employees may suffer from overtiredness, trouble sleeping, irritability, seasonal affective disorder and general burnout. These can all impact performance and lead to higher turnover rates.

To combat some of these issues, try to tailor schedules to employee preferences – it could be that some workers prefer working nights or early mornings, and you can schedule fewer people who prefer to work traditional hours during these shifts. Consider scheduling employees to forward shift rotations, such as day to evening or evening to late night hours, to ease the transition, as opposed to scheduling at random.

It's also key to train employees to recognize when they – or their coworkers – are overtired and posing a risk to themselves, others or the company. Research suggests late night shifts lead to increased accidents, and the longer employees are on duty, the more likely they are to have a health and safety incident.

When employees want to unionize
Hearing that employees want to unionize may be a win for organized labor, but not necessarily for your company. What steps can you take to address workers' concerns and and convince them to halt moving forward with unionization?

ReedSmith suggests being upfront with employees. The major concerns that often lead to calls for unionization are workplace safety concerns, job security, abusive or incompetent management teams and proper compensation. These all must be addressed immediately and management should move forward with the premise that what employees perceive about the situation is reality, even if complaints aren't grounded with facts. 

Next, reexamine the major areas of concern. Are any of them accurate? It may be that workplace safety issues present a hazard, individuals have been treated unfairly by a manager or that compensation and benefits are not sufficient for the work being performed. If there's something that needs to be adjusted, fix it, and clearly explain this to workers while continuing to monitor the situation in the future. 

HR plays a more critical role in hospitality than ever before
With how much the hospitality industry continues to grow and thrive, human resource professionals play a more critical role in managing employee engagement, payroll, scheduling and other duties than ever before. Without high-performing human resource systems and skilled HR employees, a business risks noncompliance with government regulations, high employee turnover and general disorganization. By investing in the best software – and best people – hospitality companies can rise above the competition.

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