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Is the Labor Crisis Putting Hotel Employee Safety at Risk?

In November of 2021, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4.53 million people across the United States quit their jobs. If this number appears staggering, it’s because it is. Over the last two years, a phenomenon deemed “The Great Resignation” materialized, taking entire industries by storm as employees left their jobs in record numbers. Initially proposed by Professor Anthony Klotz of Texas A&M University, The Great Resignation predicted that many people would leave their jobs following the COVID-19 pandemic as people came to re-evaluate their careers and work-life balance. In this sense, the pandemic acted like a pressure cooker, turning up the temperature on industries that already grappled with high staff turnover and labor shortages.

For the hospitality industry, this was a rather devastating trend to emerge on the heels of the pandemic. After all, it is no secret that the hospitality industry faces a higher staff-turnover rate than arguably any other sector, and hoteliers are frequently faced with the challenge (and associated costs) of hiring and training new staff on a seasonal basis. As travel came to a standstill throughout the pandemic, hotel brands of all types had to furlough many of their staff. Now, as hotels once again welcome back travelers, the industry finds itself in desperate need of talent. Unfortunately, many of those individuals who were dismissed during the pandemic didn’t simply wait around to be called back into work; rather, they entered new industries and roles instead. This Great Resignation, and the labor shortage which has followed it, stand as a wake-up call for the hospitality industry. How can hotels expect to create a guest-centric environment without first focusing on employee-centric policies? If a hotel fails to clearly demonstrate care for their employees and their well-being, how can they attract employees and, better yet, expect those employees to remain for the long haul? More importantly, how can hotels ensure staff safety isn’t compromised due to labor shortages and work to develop a positive safety culture that retains and attracts skilled workers? Is Your Staff At Risk?

There is perhaps no industry better suited to the age-old adage of “It takes a village” than hospitality. For hotels to provide a truly exceptional and seamless experience to guests, they must rely on the efforts of countless staff members – from front desk associates to customer service representatives, housekeepers, maintenance workers, and so many others. With all these moving parts working together to create the perfectly polished and consistent experience offered to guests, aspects of the staff experience may be subject to increased stress or risk. Specifically, workers who frequently perform their duties in an isolated environment are at risk of sustaining physical injury on the job or, in many cases, being subject to verbal or physical harassment. To this effect, statistics show that the vast majority (53%) of all female hotel housekeepers have been victims of some form of sexual harassment at work.

While the associated risks of isolated hospitality work have always been omnipresent, the current labor shortage only intensifies the issue. As hotels strive to meet heightened guest expectations and maintain their reputation amidst increased public scrutiny concerning health and safety, their respective teams are left trying to do more with less. In simple terms, a lean organizational hierarchy means more pressure is placed on workers to accomplish more tasks in less time. Not only are workers more at risk of physical injury if they feel pressured to rush through the completion of their tasks, but less staffing means housekeepers and maintenance workers may be even more isolated as they move through the property. Moreover, short-staffed hotels may find their teams cutting corners on key safety protocols and practices. Ultimately, this is a reality that hotels cannot afford to ignore; staff safety should be the foremost concern of any hospitality brand both now and in the future.

Protect Your Employees to Protect Your Bottom Line

Now, more than ever, hoteliers should apply the following rule of thumb: if it’s dangerous for a staff member, it’s dangerous for the hotel. A hotel cannot be exceptional without exceptional staff and processes, and reputational damage (especially in the post-pandemic era) is a burden that very few hotels can afford to accept. Providing staff with career development opportunities, competitive wages, positive culture, and a safe working environment are the primary pillars of any good organization. Fortunately, hotels can leverage dedicated staff safety technology to seamlessly ensure the ongoing safety and wellbeing of their staff. With a reliable, affordable solution that utilizes a network of BLE/W-Fi gateways to gather real-time location data continuously, hotels can quickly identify any staff member needing assistance. These devices can integrate seamlessly with a hotel’s tech stack and provide employees with peace of mind. A safe environment lays the foundation for a healthy, happy workplace. Establishing a secure and positive culture for staff will help mitigate risks on the job and help attract new talent to an industry eager to recover and thrive.


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