Complaint Handling in the Hospitality Industry
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The issue of grievance handling has not been new in organizations and it has been one of the most persistent problems of all times. In the course of running an organization, there are many complaints that are handled daily by the management which constitute the process of grievance handling. Grievances are common not only in organization but also in our social life.
However it has been shown that the nature of the grievances is not that important than the process that is used to handle the grievances. Before we look at the process of handling a grievance in an organization, let us look use first understand the nature of a grievance. What is a grievance? (Dentron and Boyd 2005, p. 61)
A grievance can be defined as any complaint that is raised by an individual worker of a group of workers in an organization. A grievance is usually raised in allegation of violation of the terms of agreement in the workplace. Therefore it can be said to a complaint that is raised and which is aimed at expressing the dissatisfaction of the employees by what is happening in the organization.
A grievance however differs from a complaint in that while a complaint can be verbally expressed, a grievance is usually stated in writing. A grievance can be caused by many things. It has been shown that some of the most controversial issues which usually ends up in a grievance include the discharge of employees from their workplace, lack of a process of collective bargaining for the employees which can be used to express their dissatisfaction, unfair labor practices, and others which are likely to happening in the work places. (Rahul 2005, p. 31)
Therefore we can expound on this point by looking closely at the process which is usually used to handle these complaints. For the effective functioning of an organization, there is usually a need to look at the welfare of the employee. Any management will recognize that the employees are the most important asset that an organization holds and therefore the most important thing in the management of the resources of an organization will be first to look at the welfare of the workforces.
It has been shown that most of the grievances which hare not well looked at often precipitate to a form of dissident by the workforce which in most case comes as strike. A strike in an organization will not only have economic effect on the organization but it will also have effects on the image of the management of the organization.
Therefore many organizations have come up with an effective procedure that can be used to handle complaints of het employees. In order to ensure that there is less participant of the workforce in mass movement of labor unions, many organization came up with human resource departments which are well positioned to handle the complains of the employees.
Therefore it is the duty of the human resource department to come up with a well structured way that can be used to look at the welfare of the workforce. The human resource department is the one which is entrusted with the duty of handling all the complaints regarding the employees. Human resource department must come up with a grievance handling procedure. (Finegan 2004, p. 71)
A grievance handling produced clearly defines a process which is used by the organization to look at the complaints that has been given by the employees. It presents a process of initial resolving of the complaints through arbitration. It is a process that is used to indentify and resolve the companies in a timely manner in order to promoted the prevail a constructive discussion between the management and the representatives of the employees. therefore the aim of the grievance procedure is to ensure that there is a proper mechanism in place that is used by the management to look at the issues that pertains to employees in order to ensure that there is constructive resolving of the complains at they arises. (Dana 2001, p. 231)
The hospitality industry has been one of the rapidly growing industries in the world. In a short period of time, the industry has grown short of its former self. In the last few decades there has been increased travelling by people all over the world. This has been enabled by the increasing wave of globalization which has opened the world and increased the interaction between people.
As a result individuals have been able to travel from one corners of the world to the other with no political or legal limitation. The improve modes of transport has been the main factor that has contributed to the rapid growth of the industry. The industry has been one of the most important industries in the world that have been supporting the increased globalization and polarization of world culture.
Therefore there has been unprecedented growth of the industry in a very short period of time. The industry has been offering supportive services in the tourism sector. Apparently tourism has emerged to be one of the most important industries in the world. It has been fueled by increased spending culture in the world and increased openness. Tourism has taken many dimensions in its growth in areas of cultural tourism, business tourism, leisure tourism, education tourism, medical tourism, and other areas.
In all these segments, individual usually travels away from their homes to go to foreign countries. Therefore they need to be accommodated and given other services. In this regard the hospitality industry comes in hand as it offers them support in accommodation and other necessary services. The hospitality industry has therefore hinged its growth on the tourism sector. (Leornard 2001, p. 52)
One of the emerging natures of the hospitality industry has been diversity that has been experienced in the customers that the industry target and also in the workforce. There has been an increasing trend in the industry towards culture convergence in which one hospitality facility in the world is serving people of diverse culture. Therefore there has been an aspect of standardization of culture in the industry.
Cultural homogeneity is considered to be one of the competitive factors that need to achieve in order to survive in the competitive market. With the market become more diverse due to divers needs of the customers, the hotel industry have therefore tended to have a divers nature of employees in order to help their customers to feel at home every time they are being served. Therefore there has been an increasing trend of multicultural workforce in the industry. This of course has come with its own challenges to human resource management.
One of the most challenges that faces any human resource management is a multicultural workforce is the way to handle complains by the employees. Many a times, employees feel that their welfare is not looked at as needed in the organization and there are usually incidences of unfair treatment of the employees. But due to the diverse nature of the employees, the human resource department may not be in a position to come up with standardized way of dealing with all the demands that employees have.
Therefore there are incidence of complaints that are based on the favors in the workforce and discontent in the allocation of duties. Many of het case studies that have been presented about complain in the hospitality industry have all been based on issue of favors in the workforce which arise due to the diversity in the workforce.
Therefore in the contemporary human resource management issues, diversity in the workforce in the hospitality industry have been one of the causes of complains in the workforce.
The hospitality industry is one of the most hectic industries as visitors check in and checks out. As a result there is a lot of work that needs to be done by the workforce. The nature of services in the industry is based on the fact that the visitors have to feel as comfortable as they want and find value for the amount of money that they are charged.
Therefore there has to be a lot of work that is done by the employees in order to meet the demands of the visitors. Some of the visitors can be a little nagging and may require excessive attention than others. Going by the nature of definition of the duties the employee have to perform some employee will always find themselves doing extra work that they have not bee assigned at the time they were hired.
Therefore there is usually a conflict with their supervisors who have to make sure that the guest gets all what they want and therefore will have to assign extra duty to the employees. At the end to the day employees will feel that they have done more that they are supposed to do in their duties. This has been shown to be another source of complains from the employees who feels that they are unfair treated and their initial duty assignment is not respected. (Andrew Kurth LLP, 2008)
In most cases supervisors are faced with a hard task of ensuring that employee perform all the duties that they have been assigned to and also perform the extra duties that the guests wants to be attendee to. Therefore there is a situation between the supervisors and the employees.
The hospitality industry peaks with seasons. This means that there are periods when there will be an inflow of guest while there are other seasons when there will be less guest checking in. In there regard there is a fluctuating need of employees in the industry. When the season peaks, the industry will need to hire more employees and when the season is low the industry will need to lay off some of the employees.
In this regard the tourism industry is most affected by the seasonality. Most of the hotels which operation in leisure industries will find the there are periods when there will be more guest especially during holidays and weekend while there are other when there will be less guest.
The industry is also prone to political stability and other factors and therefore the times when there is a serene atmosphere will see an inflow of guest while the times when there is political turmoil there will be less guests who will be checking in.
As a result the industry is force to keep on hiring and lying off some of the workers. It has continuously become difficult for the industry to hire more employees on permanent bases due to the fact that there are period when the industry will need more workers while the off seasons will need less workers. Therefore there is a factor of the way in which employees are hired and retained in the industry.
This has been one of the most contentious issues especially when it come to the labor unions which have been arguing that there is need for the industry to hire employee on permanent bases. There are a times when the industry is forced to lay off the employee unexpected due to the prevailing circumstance. For example in Kenya which is one of the famed tourism destinations in Africa, the last year skirmishes had a negative effect in the industry. It is recorded that though it was the high season when the tourism and hospitality industry expected a great inflow of guest, more than 10,000 employees were laid off.
This was due to massive cancellation of bookings that had been done. The industry has apparently hired more workers in anticipation for the high season that had just started to pick up. There has been a conflicting situation in the industry as the employee who had been hired on contracted bases want to be paid all the money as their contract had defend while the industry is trying to recover from a massive losses incurred due to the massive cancellation.
The hospitality industry has also been shown as one of the industry which pays the workers low salaries. This has been caused by the fact that the industry sometime will need to hire more employees and other times it will have to lay off some the employees. Due to the fact that the industry goes on of very lean seasons when it has to maintain its operation, there have been incidence of some players in the industry paying their employee very low salaries in a bid to cover the expense in the low season. Therefore there have been conflicts between the workforce and the management on the issue of salaries. This is one of the most conflicting issues that have led to formation of labor unions in the industry.
Most of the operators in the industry agree with the fact that the industry pays less money to its employees especially during the low seasons but they try to equate that with the operation of het industry during that period. It has been shown that although the industry has been growing at a high rate, there have been fewer incidences of increased salaries for the workforce even at times when the industry is performing well.
There has also been incidence of customer complain in the industry. It has been shown that in most cases customer have been complains about the quality of service that they receive from particular employees in the industry and also from the facility in general. This has been a difficult situation for the human resource department especially since it has to ascertain the nature of the conflict between the employee and the guest. In most case the guest may have rubbed the employee on the wrong side and therefore there must be a way of asserting the truth before punishing the employee. Though the issue of customer complains has been shown to be a responsibility attached to the customer service department, at the end of the day it ends up as a management issue that has to be resolved.
Both hotel and hospitality industries fall under any industry in the country. Therefore they are exposed to the same labor laws like any other industry. However the nature of employee relation in the industry has been changing due to some of the factors that have been shown. Although there has been increasing labor unionization of the industry there has also some legal aspects that have been protecting the employees in the industry.
One of the laws that protect employee in the industry has been the National Labor Relation Act which are aimed at redressing complain of any employees that has been unlawfully discharged from their duties. Through the law the employee is able to seek redress in the law court.
However there has been conflicting situation when it comes to address this issue and when it comes to the application of the law. This is because every time an employee is dismissed from their duties for a genuine reason, they run to the court to place complains and what follows is an argument about the rights of het employees. Although the employer has the responsibility of recognize the rightist of the employee, there has been the question of the responsibility of the employee especially when it comes to the nature of the operation of the industry.
Being in an industry that calls for meticulous performance of duties in order to ensure the satisfaction of the employee, there has been incidence where the employee have been dismissed on the ground of misbehaving with the guest or failing to perform their duties and what follows is a lawsuits for the company. (Mitchell, 2007)
There has been increasing misinterpretation of the National Labor Relation Act when it comes to the employees working in the hospitality industry. There has been a need to becoming familiar with the law and its interpretations. There has been misinterpretation of the act when it comes to the employers also. It has been shown that there are many incidences when the employers back off from their earlier salary agreement and fire off employee who complains. But the law has shown the act is inclusive even of the employee who works in the hospitality industry who are likely to work for part time bases.
Holiday Inn has been one of the most prosperous hotels that have become major player in the hospitality and tourism industry. It has been able to spread its wings all over the world and has grown to be a multinational in a very short period. It has positioned itself in all the corners of the world which have tourism potential and therefore it has a world wide presence.
Like any other play in the industry, the hotel has been receiving a number of complains from the customers as well as from the workers themselves. Since the hotel has been relying on tourism activities in its overseas operation, the hotel has been experience same problems as we have mentioned above which are all hinged on the satisfaction of the employee and on other factors. But is has successfully put in place a mechanism that is used to handle all these complains. It has been dealing with a range of complains about its employees and at the same time there have been complains from the employees on the way they are beign treated. (Dilts 2006, p. 34)
In order to handle all these complains, the hotel first steps which were aimed at streamlining it relationship with the employees was the formation of the human resource department which was supposed to look at the welfare of the employees. The human resource department was apparently responsible for looking at the welfare of the employee and also it was to handle complains from the employee. Therefore it was given the authority to deal with issue of hiring and firing of the employees. In areas where the hotel has been hiring seasonal workforce, it has been putting the employee on a contractual agreement where they are supposed to be paid according to there performance and not on the bases that eh were hired. This has been made in order to avoid many complains that come from the workforce once they are dismissed from their employee when the low seasons comes.
The hotel has also made sure that it has put in place a board that is supposed to scrutinize all the complains that are received from the employees so that it can look into the way of making sure that they are well addressed. The board or the arbitration body is supposed to work in close conjunction with the human resource department to make sure that there is a well defined procedure that is followed while dealing with the complains.
Therefore there have been systematic efforts by the hotel that has been aimed at reducing the level of complains with the workforce. These efforts have also been aimed at ensuring that all the employees are handled as equal and that complains are dealt with as a matter of urgency.
From time to time there will be complains from the workforce. These complains are most of the time genuine and they indicates that there is a problem that need to be fixed somewhere in the work process. The human resource department that has been given the mandate of dealing with the issue of these conflicts understands that employees are the most important treasure that ht organization holds. It has to deal with the employee well, so that it will gain a competitive edge in the market.
Therefore it is good for the management to come up with proper way of dealing with these complains in order to avert further action from the employee. Most of the time if these complain is not dealt with they are likely to precipitate to strikes which will have a negative effect on the productivity of the industry and also on the image of he industry.
The tourism and hospitality industry has been one of the industries that have been suffering major grievances from employee due to issues of off and on season employment and low payment. There have been major labor action in the industry which has been caused by these complain that has been expressed by the workforce. Therefore there is need for the players in the industry to handle some of these complains well and take the example of Holiday Inn which has come with effective mechanisms that are meat to deal with the problem firmly.
Andrew Kurth LLP, 2008, Hospitality and Hotels: Employment and Labor, Retrieved from http://www.andrewskurth.com/industries-22.html on 10th May 2008
Dana, D 2001, Conflict Resolution, McGraw Hill
Dentron, K. & Boyd, C 2005, Employee Complaint Handling, Greenwood Publishing Group
Dilts, D 2006, Cases in Collective Bargaining & industry relations, McGraw Hill, New York
Finegan, J 2004, The rigorous customer-complain, Harvard Business Review12
Leornard, A 2001, The service Driven Company, Harvard Business Review 69
Mitchell, M 2007, Union organization Trend in the Hospitality Industry, Retrieved from http://www.4hoteliers.com/4hots_fshw.php?mwi=2363 on 10th May 2008
Rahul, J 2005, Corporate Reputation, John Willey, New York
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