How to Increase Employee Stress Resilience in 11 hours or Less

By Werner Absenger Chef de Cuisine, Cygnus 27 at Amway Grand Plaza | January 12, 2014

Daily Work Stressors: The Main Culprits

Research on stress in the hospitality industry remains an utterly understudied topic. The type and magnitude of hospitality employees' stressors is not completely understood, and the subject presents much potential to affect positively many lives. How many lives? By 2016, the hospitality industry expects to employ 3.(1) million chefs, cooks, and food preparation workers alone.(2)

In 2010, O'Neill and Davis did a spectacular study on work stressors and well-being in the hotel industry.(1) The researchers took advantage of a daily diary design to "capture life as it is lived" (p. 387). This design is particularly innovative as it reduces recall bias, providing comprehensive information regarding the source, severity, and frequency of stressors on a daily basis, rather than averaging-out responses over time. For eight consecutive days, via phone interviews, the team inventoried stressors using DISE (Daily Inventory of Stressful Events).(3) Data was collected from 65 full-service hotels, with most major hotel companies, including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Starwood, Kimpton, Fairmont, and Wyndham represented. The work stress findings I am going to elaborate on below was collected from 98 managers and 66 hourly employees who completed all eight days of interviews.

As a group, hospitality employees are relatively stressed out. Surprising, however, is the extent of how much more hospitality employees are stressed when compared to a U.S. national average of subjects who report stressors on only 25-44% of days. Hotel and restaurant employees log stressors on 40-62% of days.

Higher stress predicted more negative physical health symptoms in both hourly employees as well as managers. However, this became acutely obvious for managers, who experience more work stress due to higher levels of responsibility. Managers worked an average of 57 hours per week in this study versus an average of 36 hours for hourly employees. O'Neill and Davis write that employee stress, especially managerial stress, should be a significant concern for owners and operators. "If hotel managers are going to work such hours in the long term, then hotel executives should consider ways to reduce those employees' stress, if not work hours. The result of not doing so could be additional organizational costs…" (p. 389).

A couple unexpected findings of the study, at least to yours truly, were the report that O'Neill and Davis did not find a significant difference based on gender or marital status, differing from previous studies which have shown that women have greater work stress than men. I found this surprising because female employees tend to have a ruminative copying style that has the potential to amplify and increase depression. Male employees on the other hand tend to respond to stressors through behavior and distraction, a copying style that has the potential to decrease depression.(4)

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Hotel Group Meetings: The Need for Speed

2017 was a banner year in the Hotel Group Meetings marketplace and that trend is expected to continue throughout 2018. Planners are experiencing a renewed sense of confidence due to a reinvigorated economy and increased job creation, which typically provides a boost in corporate meetings. Given this promising outlook, planners are maintaining a fast and furious pace, and they are utilizing an array of technologies to speed things up. For example, planner requests and proposals are expected to be turned around quickly; the mantra seems to be “as soon as possible, or sooner!” To that end, the use of electronic Request for Proposals (eRFPs) to source hotels and venues has increased in recent years, bringing many timely benefits to the Meetings industry. As a result, in order for hotels to attract and book meetings, they have to be willing to operate with a sense of urgency, which is the new baseline for success. Once on property, the need for speed doesn't diminish. Poken is a cloud-based event management platform, which enables attendees to easily and quickly connect, network and share contact info. ClickShare is a wireless presentation system that permits others in the meeting room to share their laptop with the presenter screen at the push of a button. Skype is useful in order to engage with remote participants in real time, and dedicated apps are being routinely used to drive registration and communication before, during and after a meeting. Finally, text messaging is replacing emailing and phone calls simply because it's quicker. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group meetings and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.