Best practices of human resource management

Though several academics and industrialists have tried to define the nature of thetourism industryand the role of hospitality sub sector within the industry no concise and clear definition has so far been evolved However Lucas (2004) in her work has included Hotel, Catering and Tourism sectors in theHospitality and Tourism industryin her work relating to the employment relations within the industry. People1st (2006) has identified the commercial hospitality industry comprising of hotels, restaurants and pubs which constitute around 70 percent of the employees in the UK.

According to D’Annunzio-Green et al. , (2002) extensive research has been conducted on the nature of employment and HRM strategies in commercial hospitality industry. Hospitality Industry Workforce Wood (1997 has described the workforce in the hospitality industry to include women, young workers, casual employees, students, larger number of part timers and migrant workers. The hospitality sub sector engages a higher proportion of part-time employees than in any other industry. There is a large contingent of young people employed by the hospitality industry.

Students also constitute a large proportion of workforce in the hospitality industry. These people accept lower wages and also adopt a flexible approach in their working. HRM in Hospitality Industry Storey (1995) defines HRM in general as “ a distinctive approach to employment management which seeks to achieve competitive advantage through the strategic deployment of a highly committed and capable workforce, using an integrated array of cultural, structural and personnel techniques” In order to be effective the HRM strategies in any organisation should be aligned with the overall organisational strategies.

However the advocates of best practices of HRM are of the view that there is one best way of managing the people. It is strongly advised that by adopting a best practice approach the employees will show enhanced commitment towards their work which ultimately will lead to improved organisational performance, higher levels of quality of service provided and increased productivity and profitability of the organisation. The tourism and hospitality industry has been struggling with negative perceptions about the employment practices and quite often these perceptions have been found be the reality.

Keep and Mayhew (1999) have observed the following personnel problems in the hospitality and tourism industry: • The industry is generally characterized by low wages unless there is an acute shortage of skills like in the case of chefs • The odd working hours make the work unlikable by thefamilymembers • The presentation of more number of women and ethnic minorities in low paid positions as against the men occupying higher status and skilled positions point towards unequal employment opportunities from a social point of view

• The nature of employment signifies non-existent structures and more use of casual labor on a highly seasonal basis. • The recruitment methods are highly informal and unstructured • There is no evidence of adopting good HRM practices in the hospitality industry • There is no organized trade union activities • The employee turnover rate is very high as compared to other industries • The employers usually face more difficulties in recruiting and retaining employees

The impact of the above negative factors have forced the employers to consider the HRM concerns directed towards the short-term issues of recruitment, selection and training than concentrating on the development andcareerprogression of the employees. This pessimism is also the result of the attitudes of the employers to recognize the HRM issues in the sector. These factors have also made the hospitality industry as a poor employing sector. “ In sum, any number of reasons may account for poor personnel practice in the tourism and hospitality industry.

Economic determinism, the predominance of SMEs, a low-skills base, employer antipathy to a more progressive approach to HRM, labour market characteristics, organisations ensuring best fit HRM practices to support a high volume, low-cost strategy; all are plausible reasons for a view of HRM which is not necessarily premised on high-skills, high-wages and a high-quality route to competitive advantage” (Chapter 1). Factors affecting Best HRM Practices in the Hospitality Industry

As mentioned above, there are several factors affecting the best HRM practices in the hospitality industry. Some of these factors include the employment of casual and low paid work force that lead to non-existent structures. Another factor that seriously affects the introduction of best HRM practice in the hospitality industry is the selection and appointment procedures being followed by the employers. When observed closely one of the important reasons for the employers being unable to adopt best HRM practices in the HRM industry is the non-existence of employment structures.

Based on the urgency and the availability of employees the employers tend to appoint even lower qualified people for positions where the appointees may not be able to perform. The employers appoint them with the idea of getting them trained to discharge the higher level functions. This leads to lack of any structured approach to the employment of workforce in the hospitality industry. Most of the organizations do not even have a proper personnel department or HR department to look after the employee requirements and the connected issues.

When there is no place for a structured employment it is impossible to expect the hospitality industry to adopt the best HRM practices. Another dimension of this issue can be found in the poor level of quality of service of the employees so appointed. There are basically two reasons for such poor performance; one is the appointment of poorly qualified people for higher positions and the second issues is the lack of proper induction and orientation for the employees appointed.

As observed earlier due to lack of a proper HR department to coordinate the personnel functions of any organization in the hospitality industry it becomes difficult to organize proper induction training for the newly employed people. This makes them attend to their functions without a clear understanding of what they are expected to do. Thus the adoption of best HRM practices in the hospitality industry is prevented by lack of structured employment. Best HRM Practices in the Hospitality Industry

Hoque (2000) has dealt with the best HRM practices in the hospitality industry who basically argues that the pessimistic trends in the HRM issues of the hospitality industry are outdated as there new approaches of hotel management to the HRM issues which could result in improved employee performance. Based on a research conducted on the 232 hotels using survey method and follow up interviews Hoque (2000) has identified the new approaches of the employers in the hospitality industry towards HRM issues.

The best HRM practices identified by the author include: (1) Procedure for recruitment and selection of employees with an attitude for quality (2) Extensive induction and orientation program (3) Increased use of cross functional teams (4) Practice of high level of decentralization by the employers (5) Introduction of representative committees of employees (6) Introduction of an efficient performance appraisal system and (7) Creation of an effective job market within the organization Discussion on the Best HRM Practice in Hospitality Industry

Out of the best HRM practices listed above one important aspect that can be considered for adoption is the increased use of employee consultative committees in the organisation. In the present day context the availability of alternative employment opportunities has made the position of the employers too difficult to ensure the retention of good employees. Rather than monetary considerations, the sense of pride and belonging will make a better tool for the employees to stay with the organisation. The employees expect recognition more rather than reward for their best performances.

The employers can encourage the employees to offer their best by providing enough opportunities for them to offer valuable suggestions for the improvement in the functioning of the organisation. This can be practiced by forming consultative committees which provide ample opportunities to the staff to raise their concerns and offer suggestions for possible improvement in the working of the organisation. The employees would be able to offer practical solutions to the organisational problems which will improve themotivationfor them and also will make them to have a more sense of belonging when their suggestions are implemented.

The success of any organisation in the hospitality industry depends largely on the customer satisfaction and the level of quality of customer service is an important element in the organisational success. To achieve the optimum level of customer service the employers need the best support from the employees and this can be enhanced by adopting the best HRM practice of inviting suggestions from the employees themselves through the consultative committees. This will also make the employees develop the feeling to consider ‘ outstanding customer service’ in whatever organisational functions they discharge.

Another important consideration for the employers to practice as a HRM issue is the induction of he new employees into the organisation. An extensive and detailed orientation and induction programme would make the employees stay with the organisation for a longer time. In the induction training the employees should be made to understand the importance of their participation in offering suggestions for improvement in the organisational functions which would make them feel belonging to the organisation from the day one of their employment.

Conclusion The hospitality sector provides a large and diverse number of jobs which offers ample scope for effective HRM practices to improve the organisational performance. While there are a large number of jobs being offered by the hospitality industry there are equal concerns about the HRM practices in the industry. The nature of the labor market and the reliance on causal and marginal workers has led to a number of pessimistic views on the HRM practices in the industry.

However there can be no generalization of the HRM practices in the hospitality industry with a number of differing practices existing. It is important that these practices are analyzed to understand why these differences exist.


Chapter 1 ‘ Human Resource Management and the Tourism and Hospitality Industry: An Introduction D’Annunzio-Green, N., Maxwell, G. and Watson, S. (2002) Human Resource Management: International Perspectives in Hospitality and Tourism, Continuum

Hoque, K. (2000) Human Resource Management in the Hotel Industry, Routledge. Keep, E. and Mayhew, K. (1999) The Leisure Sector (Skills Task Force Research Paper 6), DfEE. Lucas, R. (2004) Employment Relations in the Hospitality and Tourism Industries Routledge People 1st (2006) Skills Needs Assessment, People 1st. Storey, J. (1995) ‘ Human resource management: still marching on, or marching out? ’ in J. Storey (ed. ) Human Resource Management: A Critical Text, Routledge, 3–32. Wood, R. C. (1997) Working in Hotels and Catering, International Thomson Press, 2nd edition