An essential but often overlooked part of people management and workplace culture is staff safety. Providing a safe environment for employees is an integral responsibility of any employer. It should be treated with the utmost priority – especially when considering industries and roles that place workers in vulnerable scenarios.
To this effect, the topic of staff safety across the hospitality industry is ever-relevant, as hospitality workers are notoriously faced with the risk of injury or harm while on the job. This is a well-known fact in the industry, and, finally, after many years of negative headlines and rampant staff turnover, hotel brands are reconsidering their internal safety protocols to protect their staff better. Of course, you can’t manage what you can’t measure, and hoteliers can’t expect to shield their team from threats if they don’t first identify those threats. To effectively revamp the safety culture within hotels, we must first explore how hospitality staff members are most vulnerable while performing their duties and what those risks are.
Housekeepers are the backbone of any hotel – without their essential, diligent care, hotels would be unable to maintain key brand standards both within guest rooms and across the property. However, the work of a housekeeper is often isolated in nature. When cleaning a guest room, a housekeeper may be the only person in the room or, often, the only staff member on the entire floor. Moreover, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly 90% of hotel housekeepers are female. As such, housekeepers are frequently faced with a high level of risk including, but not limited to:
Risk of physical injury: Housekeepers may slip, fall, or otherwise accidentally injure themselves while cleaning or disposing of waste (such as broken glass and other body waste left behind by guests).
Risk of a medical emergency: Housekeepers may suffer from a sudden, unexpected health-related emergency such as a heart attack or stroke.
Risk of sexual/physical assault: Housekeepers may be physically harmed while performing duties alone in a guest room if the guest makes inappropriate advances (such as pushing the housekeeper to the ground or locking her in the room).
Risk of sexual harassment: Statistics show that the vast majority (53%) of all female hotel housekeepers have been victims of some form of sexual harassment at work (such as indecent exposure from a guest).
Like housekeepers, maintenance workers are integral to any hospitality brand and frequently perform their duties in isolated environments. While tending to tasks in guest rooms or on various floors of a hotel, maintenance workers often perform incredibly laborious work, with little to no access to immediate assistance in the case of an emergency. As such, maintenance workers are frequently faced with a high level of risk including, but not limited to:
Risk of physical injury: Maintenance workers may slip, fall, or severely strain a muscle while performing difficult, repetitive physical labor.
Respiratory: Exposure to chemical agents, dust, etc. while performing job duties can cause long-term respiratory problems.
Harassment or violence: Similar to the housekeeping department, maintenance workers are frequently faced with potentially violent scenarios or guest harassment, which can be defined as any act in which a person is abused, threatened, intimidated, or assaulted while working on-property.
Front Desk Staff
Within any hotel, front desk associates are omnipresent – they are the staff members placed front and center before guests, available 24/7 to welcome guests, oversee check-in/check-out, address concerns, mitigate complaints, and so much more. While this role is less isolated in nature depending on the time of day, they are often the main point of contact between a guest and the hotel and, as such, their safety can often be compromised by the following risks:
Risk of verbal or physical assault: A disgruntled guest may lash out at an unsuspecting front desk employee, verbally or physically (or both) depending on the situation.
Risk of a medical emergency: As front desk staff constantly come in direct, close contact with guests, they face increased health risk exposure (especially when considering the spread of pathogens like the COVID-19 virus).
Front desk staff are also most likely to identify signs of human trafficking. Without the appropriate support or means to report suspicions and request intervention, these staff members could be placed in severe danger.
It is up to hoteliers to create a safe and supportive environment for their staff, which demands the use of appropriate safety measures, staff training, and staff safety technology, such as hotel panic buttons. There is no better time than now to invest in staff safety; after all, protecting your staff is one of the best ways to protect your hotel’s reputation and culture.
Ready to revamp and reform your on-property safety infrastructure? TraknProtect can help. Click here for more information.