Six Crucial Trends That Can Impact Employees at Your Hotel

By Paul Feeney Managing Director, Sanford Rose Associates - Wayne | October 28, 2008

Theories and concepts compete constantly for our attention with most fleeing out minds as quickly as they entered. A few, however, begin to appear with such frequency that it is hard to ignore. Concepts that become of continual concern shift from simply ideas or musings to solidified trends. As the members of the Generation X leave the work force, multiple movements are made within the business world that potentially affects your organization.

While we cannot predict the future, these six trends will contribute to the way in which many of our future business practices and processes operate.

1. Preserving Work/Life Balance

A business magazine recently told the story of a financial services executive who routinely worked such late hours that his wife would bring his two children to the office, in pajamas, to say goodnight. Fortunately, he worked in the suburbs near his home - and not an hour or two away.

Even employers who feel little loyalty toward their employees expect great loyalty from them, and what better test of loyalty is there than working long hours (unless one is also asked to cancel a long-planned vacation)? Baby Boomers were bred in an age that prized conformity with corporate standards, particularly the demonstration of a strong work ethic. But this year, Baby Boomers are beginning to retire, and those in Generation X (the NeXters on their way to middle age) show little desire to make their life revolve around their work. They value sports, culture, community participation, travel and friends. Once married, they become family-centric and don't want to miss the myriad activities that mark their children's busy lives.

Therefore it's no surprise that several recent surveys have shown time and flexibility to be at the top of NeXters' needs - ahead for the first time of meaningful work and recognition. Although it is difficult for most employers to give the gift of time (unless one wants, like the French, to sacrifice productivity for a 30-hour work week), many could think much more creatively about flexibility. Flexible work hours and working conditions may in fact enhance productivity by retaining employees who otherwise might quit.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.