Top 4 Retention Strategies for Hospitality, According to Housekeepers

Top 4 Retention Strategies for Hospitality, According to Housekeepers
Sara Ohlgren
May 28, 2024

As the labor challenges in the hospitality industry continue, hotel managers are searching for the best ways to secure talented staff for their properties. Discussions about labor are everywhere — from panels at industry events to companies introducing tech solutions aimed at addressing these issues. But to effectively tackle this, it’s important to know what your housekeeping staff truly want in their careers. We’ve gathered insights from housekeepers nationwide who have shared the key challenges that make them think of leaving their current employers and the positive practices by some hotels that encourage them to stay. Armed with this knowledge, you can implement strategies that not only attract but also retain dedicated staff at your hotel.

1. Provide Opportunities for Advancement

It should come as no surprise that pay is a top priority for housekeepers when considering a job. In our conversations, housekeepers expressed a desire for increased wages so they can meet their objectives, with one stating, “I wish I was paid more money so I could reach my goals.” Given the constraints of hotel budgets, managers must find creative ways to support their staff financially. By presenting a clear path for career advancement, managers can inspire employees to assume more responsibilities and stay committed to their work. “If there were promotions,” shared one housekeeper, “it would be something I would want to work for so I can make a better life for my family.”

Additionally, offering financial literacy classes can also be a valuable incentive, as acknowledged by a housekeeper who found such a program offered by her employer beneficial for herself and her colleagues. Even if raises and bonuses are off the table, providing perks like parking or transportation vouchers can make a job more attractive to potential recruits.

2. Allow for Flexible Scheduling

Offering a consistent yet flexible schedule can make your property stand out as an ideal workplace. The post-COVID work from home trend has influenced expectations for on-site roles too, with 33% of employees highlighting flexible start and end times as a top priority. This sentiment is shared by hotel staff. For instance, a housekeeper highlighted the importance of “a set schedule that actually considers their opinions.” While housekeepers appreciate flexibility– such as leaving early once tasks are completed or adjusting schedules for personal appointments– they also desire consistent hours. In our interviews, housekeepers stressed the significance of reliable, stable work hours, with many aiming for a guaranteed 40-hour work week.

3. Show Recognition and Respect

Housekeepers carry out their duties mainly behind closed doors, with limited interaction with the guests they serve. As a result, there's little opportunity for them to hear words of appreciation for their work. Managers can help fill that gap by acknowledging the hard work of the housekeeping staff. One housekeeper told us she appreciated that her manager always celebrated the annual “housekeeping week” which made her feel like an important part of the hotel staff. Another housekeeper said that serving breakfast or lunch to the staff goes a long way to make them feel appreciated. By creating such initiatives, associates will feel more valued, and as one housekeeper said, "they would have more motivation to do their job wholeheartedly."

4. Promote a Positive Culture of Collaboration

Managers have a lot of influence on the culture of their teams, so it’s crucial to foster a positive and collaborative work environment to keep employees motivated. One housekeeper recalled a time where teamwork was evident, saying, “Once I finished my work, I would help other people like a family, but the new manager is micromanaging and the culture changed.” While managers may want to be heavily involved in their teams, it’s important to avoid taking an overly controlling approach that could disrupt a healthy team dynamic.

A supportive work community can make housekeepers enjoy their work more; as one housekeeper puts it, “I like to be around honest and respectful people who treat me well and share similar values as me.” To cultivate such an environment, encourage open communication, trust in your employees’ expertise, and voice that you value team support– all actions that one housekeeper told us her favorite manager took. Incorporating these elements into your hotel’s culture can not only create a positive work atmosphere but also contribute significantly to employee retention and satisfaction.

Look to Your Employees for the Key to Success

In a market where every employee counts, implementing these retention strategies informed by the insights of housekeepers themselves is not just beneficial, it's imperative for the sustained success and growth of your hotel. By taking time to recognize great employees, provide opportunities for advancement in their careers, allow for flexibility in their schedules, and encourage a positive work culture, managers can ensure their hotel retains the dedicated professionals that make it succeed.