Research of Employee Health and Safety in Hospitality Industry

As a labor-intensive industry, the hospitality industry is always full of quantity employees and employee issues. The human resource management in hospitality industry should focus more on employees themselves. But depending on many recently cases, the existing circumstance or current status is that those practitioners in hospitality industry are suffering a low level protection and ignorance by human resource management. Their legal right cannot be protected timely in many working places of hospitality industry. Many hotel and restaurants deliberately flout occupational health and safety rules which are resulting in increased staff turnover, fines and costly pay-outs to employees. (Lye, 2009) The circumstances of low level protection and ignorance by human resource management mainly caused by the circumstance caused by the environment of working place and the circumstance caused by employee’s individual problem. Recently, many researchers are trying to find the solutions for those problems in human resource management method. Employee’s health and safety is the key to management the employees well. There is no reason to ignore employee’s health and safety protection in working place. The human resource management in each hotel and restaurant should lead employees from the influences by no matter the environmental problem or their individual problem.

Employee Health and Safety Issues

Long Working Hours

Continue the theory of previous paragraph, hospitality industry a labor-intensive industry. Sometimes the nature of the work may influence working hours of the employees. Many departments just like HSKP dept. do not require working hours of their staffs but distribute the amount of work. As we all know, the amount of work for a first line staff in HSKP dept. is very large. Those employees who work in HSKP dept. must completed their regulated duties to get off their works. Workers have been largely ignored by the wider working hours. (McNamara, Maria; Bohle, Philip; Quinlan, Michael, 2011)

Alice is an employee who was working at the HSKP dept. in Boya International Center Apartment Hotel Beijing. According to Alice, the hotel gives every individual HSKP staff a fixed quantity requirement of guest rooms. Those HSKP staffs there always work overtime about two to four hours. When the hotel has a high occupancy percentage, the HSKP staffs have to work all day long and overtime, even have no weekend.

Another case from The Astor Hotel Tianjin indicates that many staffs in S&M dept. are always work overtime too. The work for those sales, coordinators and even managers are burdensome. They need to get award, higher positions and promotions. Virginia is a marcom manager in the S&M dept. of The Astor Hotel Tianjin. She was planning her own wedding last winter. But she has a lot of works to do every day. Those tasks must be finished in time, so she often uses her private time to solve the problems in her job. Planning her own wedding made her exhausted all her energies.

Those terrible situations made the employees tired and lost their health. So the ignorance of employee’s health caused a high turnover rate. The high turnover rate is another important issue of hospitality industry. Depending on the employee health issue, a high turnover rate has its evidence. With smaller, more efficient workforces, hotel organizations are competing to retain highly valued employee. (Cleveland & Drago, 2007) But the health and safety issues influence it very much. A hotel worker's satisfaction with his/her schedule flexibility is negatively associated with turnover intention. Since employee turnover is known to be very costly in the hotel industry. (Tracey & Hinkin, 2008)

Work Places without Protection

Many hotels management always ignore the protection of employees in work places. This is the most significant issue of those employee health and safety issues. Injuring in working places caused employee’s health and safety without protection. Employees in many hotels didn’t have enough protection by the hotel operators and investors. In no matter the budget hotels or luxury hotels, many F&B facilities and staff only places can be the potential unsafe factors. Although many hotels have a magnificent lobby and a lot of shining dining rooms, the back of the house always too horrible to look at.

Let take a snapshot of The Astor Hotel Tianjin. Each employee especially the first-line employee has to walk in a path in such a narrow, dirty and low-ceiling space. In a specific area, the height between the ground and ceiling is only 1.6 meters. The new employees of The Astor Hotel Tianjin reported all of them who have to pass that way must hit their heads against the cement ceiling 2 times a day on average. Another symbolistic accident in that hotel is caused by the dangerous staff only stairs. Lisa is a reservation GSA who was working at S&M dept. office. Her daily job required her transfer between S&M dept. office and front office. But one day she suffered a terrible injury on the staff only stairs which is the necessary way connected these two departments. After the accident, the operator of the hotel, Starwood, starts to check the stairs and discovers that the staff only stairs have a fatal design problem. But until now, the hotel even does not take any action on it. Obviously, the work places without protection is the largest or principal part to cause an employee safety issue.

The Absence of Training

An incorrect training or misleading direction is also fatal for employees especially those employees who work on the first line of a restaurant or F&B dept. in a hotel. Without correct and appropriate training, the employees can easily get hurt by the equipment. Scald, incised wound, fire burn, these common injuries happen in the kitchen almost every day. Chef Chiang, the executive chef of Shanghai EXPO 2010 Staff Dining No.6 (operated by Shanghai Tripod Catering Co., LTD.), made a comment of employee’s safety situation of the kitchen of the dining room. He reported that there have so many employee’s injuries covered almost all the cooks and sous chefs in such a large kitchen during the operating days. Those injuries are typically scald, incised wound and fire burn and mainly caused by the absence of training. According to Chef Chiang, many cooks came from the students of high schools. They do not have enough and appropriate training before they start to work. They just transfer from the school to the kitchen directly without any safety training program. He complained the company did not train those trainees in time.

But the situation is totally different in Aramark, the company offered food and beverage service for The Olympic Games Beijing 2008. Aramark has a complete and feasible procedure for employee training to protect employee’s safety in food production by using appropriate and effective method. Mr. Mitsuhiko, a supervisor of Aramark who was working at the FOH line to management those first line employees. He required every employee obey the rules strictly and gave them formal trainings weekly. Compare to Aramark, the largest international food and beverage service company, Shanghai Tripod Catering paled so much. The fact is that the excellent training may cost a lot of money. So the small companies cannot afford the training costs. That is precisely why there are so many employee injuries caused by the absence of training in hospitality industry.

Another serious case is also caused by the absence of training. Simon, a student of Florida International University, used to be an internship server of the banquet department of Hyatt on the Bund Shanghai. He announced that there are two serious intentional wounding according to the contradiction of two banquet servers during his internship. The condition is very severe and two of them are completely out of control. Those were the most serious internal crisis of Hyatt, China.

Violation of Human Rights

It is no pure work place in the business world. Nobody can make sure his/her hotel does not have the occurrence of violation of human rights. In hospitality industry, this kind of issue usually happens in some specific work places such as kitchen and dark corners. Bullying in the workplace has received increasing attention over recent decades and continues to be an area of concern for both researchers and organizational practitioners. From a practical perspective, concern about workplace bullying has led to the development of bullying policies within individual organizations as well as interventions by unions, mental health organizations, government and other non-government based bodies. (Bryant, Melanie; Buttigieg, Donna; Hanley, Glennis, 2009)

Kitchen is usually a very busy work place where is filled with chefs, cooks and also trainee cooks. The new cooks who do not familiar with culinary may always being put upon by their chef. Sometimes they may suffer a curse with dirty words. But some chefs without a good personality may injure the cooks by beating.

Another significant issue is sexual harassment. Sexual harassment in the hospitality industry is likely to occur. (Theocharous & Philaretou, 2009) Sexual harassment is strongly associated with hospitality work. The students major in hospitality industry on their internship are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment. Sexual harassment in work places may cause monetary damages, legal costs, increased worker sick days and general absenteeism, staff losses, the cost of hiring and training new staff, negative publicity and lower staff productivity and morale. (Poulston, 2008) The experience of sexual harassment is likely to be degrading regardless of the identity of the perpetrator. However, the perpetrator’s relationship with the victim may evoke different responses from the victim toward his or her job and organization. (Hershcovis, Parker, & Reich, 2010)

Face to the Issues

Legal Protection

According to the Labor Law of the People’s Republic of China which adopted at the Eighth Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Eighth National People’s Congress on July 5, 1994, the following articles mainly provided several rights for the laborers in this conversation.

Article 36 of the Labor Law of the People’s Republic of China provides that The State shall practice a working hour system under which laborers shall work for no more than eight hours a day and no more than 44 hours a week on the average.

Article 38 of the Labor Law of the People’s Republic of China provides that the employing unit shall guarantee that its staff and workers have at least one day off in a week.

But the fact is that the law is just like a puppet, controlled and carried by government and those companies. Without the implement of companies, the labor law cannot be functioning properly. And obviously, employees can file a lawsuit against their employers if the employers are not law-abiding.

Government Functions

Government functions are to strengthen supervision and inspection on the employers. The government should have to supervise the statuses of those companies frequently to make sure the law can be implement in time and accurately. The supervision and inspection of the government must lay restraints on company’s action appropriately. Those companies who did not obey the law or being complaint by the workers should be punished by the government and compensate the rights of those workers.

As an administrative party, government stands at a special position of the law, employers and employees. The duty of the government should be explained as the following items:

a) To guarantee the efficiency of the law.

b) To regulate the public order of the labor

b) To protect the right of the laborers in an administration method

d) To coordinate the relationship between the employees and employers

Employer’s Duties

Compared with the legal protection and government, the duties of employers are the initiative key points to protect the health and safety of employees. An employer is a person or organization that hires people to perform work in exchange for compensation, which is usually money in the form of wages or a salary. So employer builds relationship with employee directly. In the production and business operation activities, employee’s health and safety should be protected carefully no matter the employee who is in charge of food production or guest rooms selling.

Focus on hospitality industry, a hotel should establish its independent and effective employee health and safety procedure to protect its employees. Well-managed hotels must have their own culture for employee’s health and safety. In hotel operation activities, the human factor holds a leading position. Then the behaviors of the employees go through all the segments in operation activities. Depending on the above view, employer’s duties must focus on the human factor and human consideration. Nowadays, in such an environment where usually happens accident, popularize the self-protection knowledge of the employees is necessary for the employers. Through appropriate training and guild, those employees can do their daily work correctly and orderly. This procedure can decrease the injuries caused by negligent of training and management.

For a manager in hospitality industry, it is necessary for him/her to study the legal norms, training programs and also many international health and safety education materials. The manager should be responsible for guarantee the health and safety of any staffs during the period of work time in the work place.

Solutions

Standardized Work Schedule

A hotel company should have a standardized work schedule to regulate the working hours, on-duty time and off-duty time. The schedule can be a guideline for the employees in issuing work time related problem. The schedule should be formulated carefully and lawfully. As an employer, the hotel needs to maximize its productivity by utilizing scientific method. A good schedule can protect the employees from over-time work and irregular holiday problems. Standardized work schedule is an effective method to solve the problem of long working hours.

However, the employees need an effective human-based management instead of a rubber check. Many companies just give a nominal text but do not show concern on the employees. In this situation, those employees may have thought on the inverse way. Face to this specific situation, employers need to give their employees a big picture filled with positive treatments and cares. The smart employers may work out a creative and vivid standardized work schedule. With such a perfect standardized work schedule, the employees can enjoy their working hours and make their entire mind better and better,

More Attention on the Work Place

To create a harmonious work place environment is the duty and responsibility for the employer. The employers should plan and set a good environment for their employees. A harmonious work place refers to a work place satisfy by the employees with its excellent facilities and interior construction design. Those good designs can be implemented in very work place of the hotel, no matter the F&B kitchen or those staff only places. Such as international hotel brands, it is necessary for the employers to make the employee’s work place increasingly comfortable. The hotel should raise awareness of employees' individual physical activity levels and fostered social interaction in the workplace. (Scherrer, Sheridan, Sibson, Ryan, & Henley, 2011)

Specifically, the harmonious work place required the employer to complete the safety protection procedure. By repairing and replacing the old facilities, the hidden danger may be deleted. In some dangerous staff only area, the hotel should set some obvious signs to notice the employees in time and to prevent the injury accidents. And to make further investment, the hotel can redesign some specific interior structures to create a new work place environment.

Appropriate Training

The appropriate training is very important to hospitality industry. According to these training, new employees or trainees may fix their incorrect use of some culinary facilities especially in the F&B department. This method also can prevent employees’ injuries from both in physical and healthy. There is no doubt that the value made by effective trained employee can be much bigger than those who directly go to work without any training. (Whitelaw, Barron, Buultjens, Cairncross, & Davidson, 2009) The fault made by someone who did not go through proper training may result in huge loss of the whole operation activities. Apparently, correct training is the fundamental quality of survival for hospitality industry.

Some basic training must be apply before an employee or trainee begin their work in order to protect them from injury because their incorrect method in using the facility. The employee who has gone through these training will be more competitive in their position. The knowledge they have learn may effectively protect them from injury especially some extreme situation such as lost control of the kitchen, fire, earthquake or chemical and biological hazards.

Another important point must be mentioned is that correct mental training is very significant in dealing with colleagues. Such training may prevent employees fall into troubles due to worsening of the interpersonal relationship. When employees have trustful friends at work, they can get help or advice from their friend coworkers and, therefore, gain feelings of security, comfort, and satisfaction with their job at work. (Lee, JungHoon; Ok, Chihyung, 2011)

Human Rights Protection

Human rights are protected by laws of every country. Some human rights violation must be resolved in a justifiable way. First of all, the self-protect sense must be built amount employees. A hotel can hold some lectures which teach employees how to protect their own rights and make them aware that violation of human right is illegal. Secondly, the hotel should train employee to learn to supervise each other and do not shield each other. The most significant thing is to protect employee from sexual harassment. Some action can be taken such as encourage line employees to report those disorderly managers. Adopting an employee-centric and integrative approach are the critical success factors for implementation of a work–life balance program. (Wong & Koa, 2009) Employee attitudes and contingent work are the key influence factors for hotel operation. (Buonocore, 2010) For prevent the employees sexual harass others and protect the employees not to be sexual harassed, the employers should provide sexual harassment prevention training to all the employees. (Best, Smith, Raymond, Greenberg, & Crouch, 2010)

Summary

Above all, employee health and safety issue is one of the core issues of the human resource department of the hospitality industry. Those issues including long working hours, work places without protection, the absence of training, violation of human rights, which may bring serious damage to a hotel without effective control. Faced with these problems, laws, government and employers have to take their own responsibility to control those dangerous conditions and resolve the problem of employee health and safety issues. This paper made a synthesis of employee health and safety issues. For each existing problem, there have their individual solutions and suggestions. By analyzing the above-mentioned problem and using suggested effective solutions, the employers of hospitality industry can be more taking care of their employees in human resource management.

Conclusion

By the research of employee health and safety in hospitality industry, this paper summarized and discovered several employee health and safety in detail. It can be found that the essential theories of the employee health and safety protection are to show concern to the employees, to complete the structure of the work place, to follow the requirements based on the laws or regulations. With the continuous develop of society; the methods of human resource management in solving problems in the work time and place are increasingly significant for an international hotel company. The hospitality employers should strengthen their management and administrative ability. Focus on the big picture of hospitality industry, the employee health and safety protection of human resource management in hospitality industry also has a long journey.