Housekeeping from dull to sexy
Performance driven by passion is what makes hospitality industry flourish. As a hospitality consultant you come across much more than just buildings, the beauty of the industry are the people. Employees and guests from all over the world, each with their own view on quality, on life and on experiences.
In 2016 I published the book ‘A Hotelier’s mind, setting strategy for the future’. This is part 5 out of 5 in total, where I will share fragments out of the book. I wish to share to inspire.
Housekeeping is one of those areas in hotels, which is seen as a cost. And due to hard labor, irregular working hours and repetitive tasks, housekeeping is an area with high sick leave. There are numerous ways to improve the working conditions and make housekeeping sexy again.
In the book you will find many ways to improve working situations within not just housekeeping, but some selected other too. Below some ways to improve your housekeeping department resulting in improved Employee satisfaction and improved efficiency.
Love to share some examples
1. We are all individuals
Define goals, collect data, measure, innovate, implement and reward the
hell out of it.
Like I wrote before you work with people, everyone is a genius in their own way. Every
person wants to learn, to be motivated. That means individual goals are extremely important like your sales team or middle management.
There is a lack of individual goal setting, not just within the housekeeping department but throughout the hotel. This has much to do with the standardization and repetitiveness of the job itself which I will explain later. This leads to the ability of management to schedule any person within the department into a specific role. Scheduling is therefore a much easier task, particularly in a busy hotel with many room types and long hallways. Naturally this has a positive result to the cost, if applied properly. But it has a negative result on the motivation of people and staff.
The number game
There are a number of ways to change goal setting, firstly it is important to build in fun, a goal of cleaning 16 rooms (note I still do not know where that industry standard of 16 has come from) is not fun. However changing the goal to cleaning 14 rooms and receiving an incentive after that, for every additional room will change perspective. The goal remains, but the delivery is much more motivating.
Divide the rooms into categories and use scorecards. Almost every hotel has room categories, divide the goals for that specific day up, into floors, room types. It creates variance, which is needed, different rooms have different cleaning procedures, different types of guests, different atmospheres and room designs. The score card system will score room types. A standard room could be 1 point, up to a suite at 4 points for example. This creates different goals for every day, making the day a lot less repetitive. A total of 16 should be reached for example and again incentives helps. The management can also do competitions with the score cards, like who cleaned most suites in a month for example.
Beyond the individual
You guessed it, team goals have extreme impact on an individual and it accelerates efficiency and effectiveness. Competition is great, and more fun when done in a group, so rather than sticking to that number, create a team target. Besides the daily goals, there is much more to individual goal setting. Within the annual performance reviews, friendliness, happiness, personal growth, are reviewed. Many of those are difficult to measure which makes them less interesting for the management, but by no means less important for the individual. For example, a career plan is a necessity in personal growth, and when followed through by the company, a wonderful means for personal motivation.
Goals need to be clear, the individual needs to understand why 16 rooms need to be cleaned, what impact she or he can have on the operation of the hotel, how happiness reflects on the guest, what cleanliness means to the management and guest, how the use of chemicals can affect the environment. People are intelligent, they need change, their mind needs stimulation, above are just a few examples of what can be reached. Recognizing skills, individual skills are extremely important, it might lead to promotions or cross departmental moves. You will be amazed how individuals in the department never get the questions; what is your background, or what is your ambition?
2. Cross education or work
Housekeeping is fun, it’s our job to make it fun. Understanding the housekeeping culture is not easy. I learned so much theory within the department from big fat books, like sanitation management or pages full of how to schedule standards within cleaning per star rating, but I
learned most from practice. Living the department is much more than an experience. You can feel the international spheres in the rooms, communicate with colleagues and guests from all over the world, whilst applying the tools that are available. I also noticed that when I was working in the department, other department were frowning upon the department. That is something which is not unexpected, however, it’s one of the elements that can be phased away, by introducing cross work opportunities. That is an implementation that carries a cost, but will motivate and increase understanding of what others do in other departments. It creates respect and improves personal relationships outside the daily environment. Cross education or work creates change, a company culture that also helps
individuals create their personal path. An opportunity so easily created, that will have numerous potential positive results to the entire hotel team. In some cases, these implementations result in job changes and a better personal fit for individuals, decreased recruitment costs, better skilled personnel and improved overall performance, impacting guest and overall employee satisfaction.
3. Rock the boat
Pride. Housekeeping is cool, so make sure you reflect that. Get rid of those lame, black and white uniforms that hang on your knees, reflect boredom, and are anything but stylish. Jeans is perhaps extreme, but we all have pride and walking around in baggy pants, mostly shared with other colleagues is anything but cool. As long as the guest recognizes staff, and it’s part of the brand standard, that really understands the guest, make it something that you would want to wear.
4. Show personality
When I walk through a corporate landscape office complex, I almost start shivering. A while back, I was invited to assist with branding for the second largest construction company in Scandinavia, to make their real estate division sexy. When I interviewed in the head office, with a number of key members of the team, I realized that this company needs much more than a new brand that attracts private people to purchase homes from them. I explained that to start creating a personal warm inviting brand that people will buy from and later call their home, it needs to start right there in that office. Sure you can see a few personal touches, picture of the family, a calendar of dogs, and a separation wall covered in colorful post it notes. To put it diplomatically, the totally wrong environment to start from and when I presented that as a starting point for this large organization, I never heard from them again.
It’s not difficult to understand, I write best with music on, or read best in comfortable chair, or shop when I feel I can’t concentrate anyway and need to get stuff out of the way. I dress for the occasion, to feel important, confident, relaxed or calm. So create these opportunities for your housekeepers.
Flexible dress code
Dressing well motivates, keeping certain standards and yet giving some freedom, or giving the option to select from a pre-negotiated item list gives a housekeeper the feeling that she or he is meaningful and important and that the organization cares. It should be a comfortable clothing and the more personal, the better! It will create confidence, pride and reflect on the daily work and eventually the guest.
Recently, I started working with a company that creates music that aligns with a hotel’s branding vision. They create amazingly smart solutions, and when you enter a lobby, you immediately feel a part of the hotel, the atmosphere. Music plays a big role in our lives and it sets that tone for a feeling or emotion. I remember talking to someone in operations at the Metro in Brussels. They had incredible amounts of violence in their Metro stations and we started playing classical music through their speaker system. It created a calm and sophisticated atmosphere and decreased aggressive behavior and violence. In the years of experience, I have seen many housekeepers turn on the TV to get some music going, totally fine. Build on that, give every housekeeper the opportunity to listen to the music by supplying them with an iPod or similar where they can listen to programmed music to both motivate and stimulate work behavior. Better yet as one of my closest friends indicated, get them to create their own playlist, there are tons of ways this can be achieved these days!
5. An individual as part of a team
Within Six Sigma, the process improvement method I was taught in 2001 and applied ever since in many situations and departments within and outside the hospitality industry. Six sigma has taught me many things, like how to collect data and how to validate and apply it. How to base many decisions on facts rather than assumption, as well as leadership and
manage net styles. The tools and methods can be applied for all stages and departments within a company, small or large, startups or an established company many years in the market place. The team also applies a lot of the tools to create inspiration or innovation, often learning from other industries.
Don’t let them tell you otherwise, there is so much that can be done to make roles in the hospitality a joy, yes even accounts receivable….
About the Author
Jeroen Gulickx is a well-traveled hospitality professional with two business degrees and extensive experience within the hotel-and-spa segment.
The main capabilities vary from streamlining cost and operational models to strategy yielding, business development, and marketing and digital marketing.
In 2006, he started Mocinno International, a hospitality consulting company that now has offices and representation in seven countries in Europe, USA, Middle East, Asia, and Russia. The team is focused on delivering incremental revenues for hotels and spas and also develops and strategizes hotel suppliers, using mainly the Six Sigma methodology.
Mocinno International works with a network of highly experienced, energetic, and innovative people based in key locations. The team also leads client or Mocinno-originated projects or concepts.
Jeroen shares his over 20 years of industry knowledge through his blog, and other social media, and speaks in travel, marketing, innovation, or strategy related forums.
‘A Hotelier’s Mind, Setting Strategy for the Future’
The book is available in most local online bookshops, or over 1000 bookstores all over the world.
Barnes & Noble
Art by Alexandra Sarantidi http://www.alexandradesign.net/
Mocinno International is a Hospitality Management Company