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Can housekeeping performance be managed and improved?

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“Connect the dots between individual roles and the goals of the organization. When people see that connection, they get a lot of energy out of work. They feel the importance, dignity, and meaning in their job.” – Ken Blanchard, author and management expert.

The success of a hotel is determined by the bond between employees and stakeholders, in their journey to meet the customer’s needs and expectations. Hotel departments must be interconnected and have a continuous flow of information to ensure that crucial pillars of focus, customer satisfaction and employee service orientation are accomplished.

Employees are the main “gold bar” of any hotel because they put their knowledge and skills to work in fulfilling the desired state of evolution regarding hotels. Therefore, measuring employee performance leads to a wider transparency when discussing organizational goals and values, and supports a superior understanding of hotel objectives.

Hotel managers should develop accurate performance management frameworks which take into consideration the financial and non-financial aspects of daily employee routines to determine their real performance. Looking only at the financial aspects of employee performance is a misleading and old strategy for many hotel managers, which can turn against them and result in the loss of valuable staff.

Nowadays, many management teams use only performance measurement for their employees, by counting quantitative data, because it underlines the organizational goals. But embracing the performance management approach will significantly improve their employees’ understanding of the big picture by introducing standards and procedures to follow in different situations.

Reichel and Haber, in their book titled Identifying Performance Measures of Small Ventures—The Case of the Tourism Industry, developed a multidimensional approach for evaluating hotel employee performance, based on three financial and non-financial perspectives, which positively influence employee behavior and the overall understanding of organizational goals. They’re proposed perspectives are:

  • Effectiveness: occupancy, average daily rate per room etc.,
  • Efficiency: profit, investment profitability etc.,
  • Adaptability: successful introduction of some new services/products and income that is generated by introducing these new services, respectively.

The biggest departmental challenge from a hotel remains the handling of the housekeeping department. Despite the fact that is the largest from the facility, in terms of employee number, housekeeping is responsible for cleaning rooms, restrooms, offices and public areas alongside the laundry duty. The main focus of the housekeeping department is to turn dirty rooms into clean ones. Therefore, maids are asked to clean a certain number of rooms per day, without taking into consideration the complexity and diversity of the rooms from the same hotel (single rooms, double rooms, executives and suites).

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The ongoing daily routine of cleaning a large amount of rooms, washing a great amount of towels and wiping offices, conference rooms and restrooms is a repetitive task very similar to a factory assembly line.  The management of this department has one of the trickiest assignments because they must balance their high productivity with quality, to achieve departmental effectiveness and efficiency, at the same time ensuring employee satisfaction and motivation.

Being relatable to an assembly line from a manufacturing plant, this department relies heavily on the individual productivity of maids and its defined by the number of rooms cleaned.  Therefore, understanding the importance of this KPI, the topic of quality rears its head, because it also needs to be measured to see if cleanliness standards are respected.

The quality of work for housekeeping staff is controlled only by ensuring a constant presence of the housekeeping management team on the site of every room. Shortfalls and quality issues are dealt on the spot by addressing any problems directly. But by doing so, no track of a maid’s performance is compiled in a formalized way, preventing top management from knowing which maids are more efficient.

Therefore, to get rid of this issue, a new performance framework was developed in order to help housekeeping management track their employee’s efficiency.

Firstly, to ensure more transparency for workload tasks, a credit system for different room categories can be introduced. Considering the size and the set-up of rooms, some of them take longer to clean than others. Different room categories have different credits to ensure that a maid has sufficient time to clean a room. The integrated credit system can be used to automatically assign, every morning, a fair amount of workload to every maid.

Secondly, a spot checklist for every room type was developed to ensure a high quality housekeeping process. Housekeeping management can also use that checklist to evaluate their maids’ room performance. A performance table with monthly reporting can be introduced to underline all maids’ scores for every room category. This table can be subdivided in three result thresholds:

  • 90% (green) – Well done!
  • 85% – 90% (yellow) – Good job, however there is room for improvement!
  • 85% (red) – There is a problem! Achieving standards requires work. We will help you with it!

Following this chart, the top three maids can be rewarded with vouchers if certain conditions of sustained performance over a time period are met. Furthermore, a training program must be introduced to support underperforming maids.

After the implementation of this performance management system in the housekeeping department, one should witness a significant and stable improvement, since maids will be able to see that each worker has to ‘pull his weight’; there will be no favoritism towards other team members, as everybody receives the same amount of credits for cleaning. These changes will also educate the housekeeping team, making them realize the importance of showing up to work on time; otherwise, the unproductive behavior of one person will have a negative impact on the workload of others, as the task has to be covered by someone else.

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