Hospitality employees have always been under a lot of stress, but today stress intensity has reached unprecedented levels. This represents a serious problem, and must be dealt with quickly and with due seriousness.
Until the good professor Hans Selye began his research in 1970’s, the pubic knew little about stress. Today, though more is known, there is still much to learn. Information available can help in avoiding the symptoms, so when they occur, managers can deal with them successfully.
The late professor has defined stress as being a non-specific response of the body to any demand. Stress is always present and known to be a motivating factor, but too much of it becomes dangerous. Flawless performance in the hospitality industry depends on creating a conducive work environment and motivating employees.
Marks and Spencer, the famous English retailer, knows how the create such environments and provides all possible comforts to its employees.
One cause is very low employee turnover, which avoids the high cost of training and recruitment; another is high sales per square metre in stores. Employee benefits also play a significant role in motivation.
The hospitality industry has specific characteristics that create stress. Unusual working hours, uneven work load, and constant pressure to deliver goods and services under time pressure to a very diverse clientele with different needs and expectations.
The restaurant product is a bundle of specific goods and services that must be generated on demand. It does not lend itself well to automation, although several advances have been made, at least in technologically advanced economies.
The atmosphere in the “front-of-the-house” is often opulent, yet the “back-of-the-house” (kitchen etc) is a manufacturing plant.
Constant change of environment and demanding guests generate stressful situations with which many employees fail to cope successfully. Managers on the other hand must be firm with employees, but friendly and accommodating with guests; this requires a constant change of attitude.
Management in most hospitality establishments are comprised of staff from various cultural, educational, and industrial backgrounds, but must be cohesive if the establishment is to succeed.
The general manager must be able to mould the team to a harmonious and flawlessly functioning machine by motivation, as well as paying attention to cultural diversity.
Abnormally high absenteeism is a sure sign of stress. Inconsistent product delivery, wilful destruction of property, waste and pilferage are other signs to look for.
Beneficial stress called eustress is associated with job satisfaction, experienced during enjoyable moments. Harmful stress labelled distress, is a experienced in times of conflict, pressure absence of leadership, and inconsistent management decisions.
The time element is most important when dealing with stress. Constant, prolonged stress is more harmful than short, profound stress. The former can lead to stress-related diseases (cardiovascular, arteriosclerosis, hypertension, ulcers, diabetes, headache, migraines and even backache).
does no harm until it begins to exceed one’s capacity of coping. Some have higher thresholds than others. Generally those who are disorganized and take on too many projects and duties are more prone to stress.
Steady workers following well though-out plans achieve results slowly, but generally enjoy a high success rate, and seem to be better in handling stress.
Adequate workload and determination thereof is an important management responsibility, which many establishments take lightly with predictably unsatisfactory results.
An overworked employee “burns out”, a phenomenon becoming increasingly more prevalent, and ultimately leads to poor decisions causing loss of revenue.
Success in business is measured by exceeding the previous year’s results, and managers expect business to grow consistently. Though this is desirable, it may be impossible to achieve it constantly. During recessions owners must expect flat revenues, even decreases in an attempt to relieve managers from some degree of stress.
More importantly, business owners must select and hire suitable employees, train them well and rewards all sufficiently to motivate. Hiring unsuitable employees, paying them poorly and expecting superior performance put stress on employees and managers alike. A distressed employee experiences poor health, may develop an escapist drinking pattern, be depressed, or develop a low self-esteem. Many develop dissatisfaction with work and sometimes with life itself.,
All these factors deserve to be taken into consideration by managers and remedied to the extent possible.
Researchers have been able to establish that happy employees produce better and more efficiently.
Creating less stressful working environments results in greater guest satisfaction, loyal clientele, even more revenues and excellent profits.