Getting to the Root Cause of Stress in the Hospitality Industry

Posted on April 14, 2014 by Katherine Razzi

Are Social Media Critiques Helping or Hindering?

HotelRegistrationThere seems to be a great concern regarding stress in the hospitality industry. This doesn’t surprise me since that industry is constantly under scrutiny of the public for almost every human necessity you can think of; eat, sleep, drink, health, safety, etc. And with social media watching and judging every move it makes, it’s not to wonder why more and more stress is building.

According to John W. O’Neill1a, professor at the School of Hospitality Management at Pennsylvania State University, and research associate, Kelly Davis1b, most of the job stressors are felt by managers. That doesn’t surprise me either since managers not only have to worry about their own tasks, but those of their subordinates, and then take the heat from their superiors. Turnover is very costly and no doubt managers are under extreme pressure to constantly hire and train new staff.

From the research of O’Neill and Davis, the most common types of stressors plaguing the hospitality industry among managers and hourly employees today are the following, listed in order of highest to lowest stress:

  • Interpersonal tension:
    • Arguments at work and at home
    • Arguments with hotel guests
    • Married employees report greater daily work stressors than non-married employees
  • Gender Difference:
    • Women experience greater occupational stress than men
  • Work Overloads
  • Turnover
  • Burnout
  • Overall job dissatisfaction

Research shows that there is a negative correlation between job stress and customer service. Therefore, less stressed employees provide better customer service than those more stressed. (Varca, 19992). Chronically stressed employees exhibit exhaustion, are cynical, hostile, depressed and withdrawn. Physical symptoms of stress include headaches, fatigue, indigestion, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and stroke. (Krone, Tabacchi, & Farber, 19893) The results are decreased productivity, and increased health care costs for the hospitality employer.

It used to be that hotels and restaurants relied heavily on hand-written feedback from customers, but now guests are writing reviews on TripAdvisor, Citysearch, Yelp and other travel and hospitality sites. According to Attensity4, a leading provider of text analytics solutions for Customer Experience Management, thousands of reviews are being generated every day which are overwhelming the resources of a hotel or travel provider. And to make matters worse, Attensity reports that much of these reviews are fake!” Research shows that 48% of consumers combine social media and search engines in their buying process (Source: Social Media Today5). Those findings, in turn, impact the booking behavior of other consumers.

Many of us will say that word-of-mouth is the best critique, but I find that even when friends, family or acquaintances occasionally recommend a hotel or restaurant, I get a bum steer. By that I mean, what wows one may not wow them all. I know some people who do not care for certain restaurants which I happen to love. And some of the lower rated, 3 star hotels have been wonderful stays! I would prefer a collective viewpoint more than just someone’s single, unique experience but in light of those fake reviews and bum steers, whose ratings can I trust?

Perhaps it would be ideal for hospitality businesses to take over the reins and conduct a survey themselves instead of relying solely on these critiques.

At TNS Employee Insights, an independent survey and consulting firm, we have the capability to survey both employees and customers. The data collected from both is funneled into ad hoc reports and gets to the root cause of any pain points the business is experiencing. Isn’t that the ideal survey for any hospitality business? If I owned a hotel or a restaurant, I’d like to know what’s bugging my employees and what’s upsetting my customers to see if either of their complaints collectively point to distinct issues. Then tackle those issues and fix them. Surveys don’t always point to bad issues, and it’s uplifting to know when things are going well, too. Perhaps items that managers think are doing poorly may be good in the eyes of customers and/or employees. The point is… you never know until you survey.

In the people business, if you have happy employees, you most likely will have happy customers. Sounds like a 5-star winner to me!

References:

  1. Work Stress and Well-being in the Hotel Industry http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3686125/
    WorkStress_Hospitality.pdf

    1. John W. O’Neill [Professor] and School of Hospitality Management, Pennsylvania State University, 233 Mateer Building, University Park, PA 16803, 814-863-8984
    2. Kelly Davis [Research Associate] The Pennsylvania State University, 201 Beecher-Dock House, University Park, PA 16803, 814-867-2133 (John W. O’Neill: jwo3@psu.edu ; Kelly Davis: kdc156@psu.edu)
  2. Varca, 1999
  3. Krone, Tabacchi, & Farber, 1989
  4. Attensity – http://www.attensity.com/home/
    Industry_report_hospitality.pdf
  5. Social Media Today
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About Katherine Razzi

Katherine Razzi hails from the Midwest and holds a B.A. in Applied Behavioral Science from National-Louis University, Evanston Campus. Coursework in cultural diversity, management, organizational dynamics, morals and ethics, group interaction, and psychology.

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