Finding Work-Life Balance in the 24/7 Hospitality Industry

By Henri Birmele Managing Director, Hotel Shangrila Santa Monica | August 01, 2013

"A true balance between work and life comes with knowing that your life activities are integrated, not separated."
― Michael Thomas Sunnarborg, 21 Keys to Work/Life Balance: Unlock Your Full Potential

Summer has come to our beautiful 1939 streamline modern hotel perched on the bluff directly overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica, one of California's iconic landmarks. And with summer comes our peak season for international guests. Like hoteliers around the world, we go to great lengths to give our guests a premium experience.

Recently, after another 16-hour day, I made my rounds to check in on and speak with a few on-duty managers. The conversation turned to the topic of work-life balance given the demands on those of us working in the hospitality industry - the long hours, handling the needs and special requests of our guests, and overseeing and managing all of our operations while working at 99 percent warp speed, taking just a moment here and there to catch our collective breath.

Juggling everything and getting it right is no easy task. Unfortunately, while all of this dedicated work is taking place, it is easy to forget the human toll these increased demands take on the entire team - everyone from our hourly workers to our senior management.

Over the course of my broad and varied career-with stints at beach resorts to city hotels to work in the entertainment industry - the topic of how best to strike a better balance between workplace needs and individual and family demands inevitably comes up in conversation. Our industry, in particular, presents some additional challenges including 24/7 hotel operations, peak seasons, flex schedules and a wide range of employee skill levels. There are no easy answers.

In our career-driven culture, I have both witnessed firsthand the pressure, stress and fatigue that accumulates when we - and our teams - do not have our working and family life running in sync. And, let's face it, the very nature of our industry brings another, often unspoken enemy – the unwitting resentment that can build up from seeing our guests in full vacation mode while we work around the clock attending to their needs. For some, it is just too much.

Choose a Social Network!

The social network you are looking for is not available.


Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

Jean Francois Mourier
Kelly McGuire
Matt Lindsay
Tina Stehle
Daphne Sipos
Paul van Meerendonk
Simon Hudson
Steven Ferry
David Benton
Tyler Tatum
Coming up in April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.