• Stephan Busch

The challenge to manage fair in hospitality

Working environments with employees of multiple ethnical, religious and cultural backgrounds naturally experience more tensions because of the different behaviors rooted in culture.

Outside hospitality this challenge is often totally new

Managing companies with employees of different cultures requires experienced managers who are able to judge and react in the interest of the employee and the company. Besides their experience in managing different cultures they have to be able to control their own subjective inherited rules and social values in order not to cloud their judgment. Outside hospitality this challenge is new for many businesses which operated traditionally in their local or national confined environment. Globalization, and migrant movements force these companies to adjust and change their focus which is often not an easy or fast process.

This change in focus is more difficult today because unethical and amoral acts in the workplace have increased in the last decades and the borders of the work environment have diminished due to globalization. Hospitality especially faces tremendous problems and unethical working conditions are unfortunately not new to the industry.

Clouded judgments

A point here that needs to be taken into consideration is that the ethical perceptions of managers change and get complicated by environmental factors such as culture, family, religion, manners and customs, values and demographic structure. In this stage, it is also observed that the management principles particular to the enterprise, standards and organizational climate (culture) affect the attitudes and behaviors of the managers in the decision-making process.

Tourism and hospitality is continuously growing sector providing employment for millions worldwide. While the number of Tourist is increasing also new destinations are added as Tourist sites which might have a positive economic impact. At the same time this confronts locals who were not affected before with multi ethnical visitors and their demands that were unknown before.

Medical tourism and its challenges

The origin of tourist has a great impact on the destination. Especially in medical tourism traditional Middle Eastern countries, South America and Asia where countries that relied heavily on their citizens ability to travel for medical reasons. By providing medical facilities mainly in Europe and North America certain destination became popular medical tourist sites. These sites had to change and cater for example to only Arab tourist who had totally different expectations. Employees with different language skills were needed as well as shops, restaurants and hotels that were able to satisfy their needs. With the opening of the Eastern European countries and the diminishing medical system in Western Europe medical facilities were opened in Poland, Czechoslovakia and other countries. These changed the medical tourist market and added a new tourist flow from Germany, France, Spain, England and other Western countries.

Chinese tourism forces changes – not always good ones

The ever growing economic wealth of China sees an increase in Tourist numbers which is resulting in changes in the tourist destinations. Here the sheer numbers and cultural behaviour are a problem. Chinese employees are moved to Europe in ever growing numbers to satisfy the demand in regards to language and also culinary requirements. Restaurants offering menus in Chinese, hotels that cater only to Chinese tourist and shops that adapt to the shopping behaviour that was unknown and unneeded before. It not only changes the tourist destinations product on offer but also the job market. When the economy was growing before the local job market benefited first and the local situation improved. Less unemployment and higher salaries were a positive impacts. Now there are many cases where the local unemployment markets don’t benefit, cheap labour is imported and salaries are even decreasing..

The changes affect everybody

The changes affect whole communities, cities and demand a change in the approach to deal with new multi ethnical, cultural, religious problems. Managers in hospitality are often international experienced, work with different nationalities and can easier adjust to a changing market. They are exposed to different nationalities , ethical backgrounds and posses often the valuable knowledge of how to deal with confrontations and problems. Other services like , police, city services have a more difficult time to adjust. Often rules, regulations and laws are disobeyed or more difficult to enforce because of the different backgrounds and believes of the new group of tourist, employees, specialists joining. In public services it takes a long time to adjust as normally no multi ethical experienced managers or supervisors are trained for the changing task and no changes have been anticipated and planned for.

Unethical and amoral acts in the workplace have increased in the last decades

Referring to the statement above: “This change in focus is more difficult today because unethical and amoral acts in the workplace have increased in the last decades.” Globalization and migrant movements have changed the work environment and added multiple new facets for management and employees to deal with. While Globalization benefits mostly the rich companies it erodes the middle class, enlarges the number of people living with minimum income or below the minimum income necessary to participate in social communities and activities. This can be observed in Europe and in an advanced stage in the USA. Working conditions have diminished and management of multiple ethnical groups experience more discrimination, wage dumping and unpaid overtime. Below are different headlines giving an impression of the situation.

“Basically, what you are doing with franchising, you are getting mom and pops working for free, working below the minimum wage,”Marcus Jundt (CEO Keno) said in a question-answer session. “It may be a dirty little secret that no one want to talk about, but that’s what’s going on.”

Ron Ruggless| Jan 17, 2019

“Britain’s hotel workers – bullied, underpaid and with few rights

London has more than 136,000 hotel rooms and, according to accountant PwC, they have an occupancy rate of 84% and a mean cost of £145 (£5 higher than last year). This means a potential yield of £122 per room per night. Yet room attendants are paid between £2.30 and £3.75 per room.”

Yvonne RobertsEvening Standard, 2 Dec 2017

“Whilst Tourism Concern has primarily concentrated on human rights abuses and exploitation in developing countries, it is a national scandal that London, in terms of hotel workers, is now one of the most ‘unethical’ tourist destinations in the world”.

“To its collective shame, not a single hotel in the capital pays the London Living Wage of £9.40 per hour. No collective agreement has been signed since the 1980s. Low pay, zero hour contracts and open hostility to trade unions have become standard practice, making London one of the most unethical tourist destinations in the world. “

A snapshot of the report findings:

· 90% of housekeeping staff surveyed said they were in constant pain caused by their job.

· 84% of housekeeping staff surveyed said they suffer from back pain

· 53% per cent of front of house surveyed staff frequently miss meal and rest breaks because of workload and staff shortages

· 78% of chefs surveyed have had a ‘near miss’ or accident at work due to feeling overtired

· 71% of waiting staff do not know how their tips are calculated and what percentage they get

Peter Kavanagh, Unite London regional secretary

Justin Hemmes’ billion-dollar pub empire Merivale isn’t happy about having to pay its young staff the wages they’re entitled to.

Paul Burns, a radio newsreader who used to work at a Merivale establishment, claimed workers were also forced to hand over half of their tips each week.

“They never did really justify it. We had to hand over our tips each night and we got half back and the rest just disappeared never to be seen again,” Mr Burns said.

“And yes, the pay was horrendous.”

Shannon Molly news.com.au

JANUARY 22, 20192:39PM

“About 32% of (US)restaurant workers would be considered "food insecure" by the US Department of Agriculture's definition, asa newly released reportfound. Food security means availability of nutritional, safe food, as well as the ability to buy that food. Unfortunately, many restaurant workers cannot afford food that would meet this definition. Trying to cut costs, restaurants often serve family meals made of leftovers and food about to expire.

what fuels restaurants are low-wage jobs, with a limited number of hours and unpredictable schedules.”

Article by Jana Kasperkevic

Besides all the above international news about unethical treatment of hospitality workers even the big hotel chains see no reason to change. In a recent discussion one statement from four international hotel chain CEO’s was:

“We need more cheap labour”. Such a statement from the top managers fuels the fear that the situation will get worse. They can’t see or don’t want to see the problem. Its short term success and thinking only. Looking good in the books and only today.

“We need more cheap labour”. Such a statement from the top managers fuels the fear that the situation will get worse. They can’t see or don’t want to see the problem. Its short term success and thinking only. Looking good in the books and only today.

Author: Stephan Busch, Academic Director at the State University for the Humanities Moscow RGGU, Faculty of Tourism & Hospitality earned his Master Certificate in Hospitality Management from Cornell University, USA.

Stephan Busch has an invaluable and diverse experience in launching operations, business development and service training- for hotel and cruise companies in Asia, Europe, Canada and Russia.

www.itsjusthotelsservice.com, contact@itsjusthotelsservice.com

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© 2017 by Stephan Busch