It is necessary that employees be empowered in their places of work. While there are varying methods in achieving such empowerments, the reasons behind any approach used by employer must be made known to the employer, in order to for employees to reach sound decisions individually. When this is achieved with the right measures and intentions, it will results in increased productivity and satisfaction among the employees.
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The hotel industry continues to experience high attrition rates, which are set to double in the next few years. Therefore, employers are actively seeking ways through which they can make their staff stay; one such method is through empowerment, so that they can perform hospitality services with personal discipline.
This paper shall discuss the concept of employee empowerment in the hospitality industry and examine the extent to which it contributes to job enrichment and satisfaction among employees. We shall look at contemporary trends in empowering employees in the industry, issues affecting the empowerment process, and the benefits of employee empowerment. We shall see that the empowering employees supersede the shortcomings of the process.
Findings and analysis
This is the process of enabling employees to work and make decisions individually. The employee is able to control and take responsibility of the outcome of a given task without stringent supervision from management.
Employee empowerment requires management to give up some of its powers to the employees. Management will, therefore, have to take up new responsibilities, roles, and knowledge that were previously left for employees. This, however, does not mean that management will have to relinquish all its authority, delegate all the process of decision making, or let employees work without accountability or supervision.
Conversely, empowerment provides for the chance to build mutual trust and cooperation between management and employees. The two develop a concise agreement about the roles and responsibilities that each has to perform, and through trust, one is led to perform the tasks independently (Blanchard, Carlos & Randolph, 1997).
For effective employee empowerment, certain measures must be put in place. Employees should posses the required training skills and knowledge to enable them to perform the additional responsibilities with ease. Secondly, empowered employees will be required to make decisions that were previously made by management.
As a result, they must have access to the required and appropriate information necessary to make such informed decisions. Lastly, employees need to have initiative and confidence that they are willing and can take up the additional and greater responsibilities as prescribed (Ward, 1996).
The need to empower employees arises from the need to enlarge and enrich jobs in the workplace. Job enlargement is increasing the scope of the job to encompass a greater number of employees in the horizontal structure. This means that an employee is capable of handling more tasks that are handled by employees of a similar caliber. A teller of a bank, for instance, will also deposit and disburse funds (Palmer & Hartley, 2009).
Job enrichment entails increasing an employee’s tasks and responsibilities vertically so that he can perform tasks that are usually regarded to be the role of management such as decision making.
Trends in Employee Empowerment in the Hospitality Industry
Employee Involvement and Participation
Another trend popular in today’s hotel industry is workers having greater discretion in decisions that affect their jobs directly or indirectly. Employers have realized the impact this has on empowering employees and making them feel in control of the issues relating to their work. This approach has been found to increase employee skills and improve their job satisfaction (Gandz, 1990).
Involving employees in the issues affecting them have many benefits. Their performance is bound to improve as well as cutting production costs due to increased care at work. Employees become committed and supportive of necessary changes that aid the firm’s survival and growth. Employee involvement fosters creation of a culture of trust and transparency among employees and with management.
Hotels and other hospitality industry firms today are encouraging direct consultations with employees on many aspects of the organizations. Consultation was initially the role of management with a few representatives of employees whose effect was minimal.
This trend, however, has been replaced with joint working groups that focus on particular issues. Employees present in such consultation processes are chosen on merit on the particular issue and have a considerable amount of influence on the results and decisions made of the deliberation (Randolph, 1995).
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A more revolutionary approach trending in today’s firms is that of direct approach during consultations. Employees are free to make their individual views known to management without having to pass them through representatives. This is achieved by the increased face-to-face communication as fostered between management and employees.
As a strategy to empower employees in the hospitality industry, communication has been revolutionized to include briefings, use of employee representatives, and direct communication between employees and management.
Informal methods of communication are on the rise, as the line between management and employees becomes thinner each day through empowerment of employees. Companies are moving away from traditional forms of communication that tended to be formal and strict on the part of the employer to reach the employee (Palmer & Hartley, 2009).
Issues Affecting Employee Empowerment
Many employers perceive employee empowerment as delegation of more work to employees. Besides delegation of work, management should delegate authority and opportunities to employees. Exciting work and opportunities as well as important schedules and tasks should be entrusted to the employees if they are to feel worthy and appreciate the delegation. This also helps employees grow and develop skills and gain experience in these important functions (Bridges, 1991).
It is common for management to say that they would like to empower their employees, while in the real sense they do not mean it. These will implement empowerment measures half-way so that the process does not succeed.
This can be attributed to a number of reasons, one of them being that management does not really understand what empowerment of employees means or entails. Such managers will only delegate the basic and unpleasant tasks to employees and retain the important and authoritative delegation. This kills employees’ morale and eventually, the process fails (Gandz, 1990).
Some mangers fail to recognize the extent to which employees should be empowered. They leave the boundaries vague so that employees are not able to discern between managerial tasks and their tasks.
Some managers do not trust their employees enough to let them make decisions independently. Because of this, employees will make their own decisions in hiding, and conceal the results of the decisions from the management. On the other hand, some will seek clarification from the managers for every detail because they know that they are being watched anyway (Kanter, 1979).
Another reason why employee empowerment fails is because some managers undermine decisions made by employees with their authority. While it is possible that the employee might make a wrong decision, the manager should coach the employee to make a better one next time, but not undermine or reproach him for the one currently made. In coaching them, the manager should not question their faith and competence or trust for them.
If employees get punished and reprimanded for the decisions they make under the empowerment program, they are likely to reject the program in the future. In fighting back, the employees will dig out the faults in the manager that could have led to the failure of the decision.
Instead, managers should encourage employees where they go wrong so that mistakes are not repeated in the future. Such gentle and instructive guidance will build empowerment in an organization than the blame trend (Quinn & Spreitzer, 1997).
Empowering employees can lead to employees becoming overconfident and proud in performing their duties. On the apart of the organization, empowerment is an additional investment requiring more funds in selecting and training the employees for additional tasks.
These employees are likely to demand higher wages because of the enriched tasks they have to perform. They may become inconsistent in the services they deliver due to multi-tasking, an increased possibility for them making poor decisions in the event that they are not properly trained to make wise decisions (Blanchard, Zigarmi, & Zigarmi, 1985).
In some cases, employees object to their empowerment citing a number of reasons. Empowerment requires that employees become their own bosses and each to watch over the other. This makes them feel as if they are being watched by many bosses, making them more insecure than when they have a single line of authority (Aeppel, 1997).
Some object to the extra responsibilities. This is common among employees who are insufficiently motivated or preoccupied with other activities besides the job (Schein, 1985).
Skills and Knowledge Necessary for an Employee at the Hospitality Industry
The hospitality industry is unique because of its frequent and direct contact with customers. It requires highly sophisticated mannerisms and behaviour by both management and employees toward customers.
One, and probably the most important skill in the industry is listening skills. An employee needs to be alert all the time while taking orders from the management and customers. Tasks in the industry require a great deal of accuracy and attention.
An employee needs to possess personal confidence and self-belief that they can do what the customers need them to do. Many times they will have to make decisions independently while handling customers. They have to have good judgment and the confidence to act right on behalf of the management. Employees who are not confident will make blunders, falling short of customers’ expectations (Caudron, 1995).
Employees must be patient and understand that the customers they deal with come from different backgrounds with varied characters and behaviours. They should, therefore, handle them with respect to their personal affiliations and without losing their patience.
Finally, employees should be innovative and creative enough to answer customers’ questions and meet their needs. Customers do not always have to be subjected to bureaucratic processes and referred to management for every single detail. Employees should be in a position to find immediate solutions for urgent problems, even if they will require improvising.
Benefits of Employee Empowerment
Studies have shown that employees amass great knowledge on how an organization could reduce operational cost improve productivity through the experience they gain from working. Organizations, however, do not know how to ask employees for this knowledge.
If management empowers its employees so that they feel important to the organization goals and objectives, they are more likely to contribute to ways that the organization can improve its productivity and reduce costs (Conger & Kanungo, 1988).
Empowered employees are more likely to offer better customer service than otherwise. They are able to make first hand decisions without supervision, thus providing helpful services to customers without bureaucratic procedures.
They can alter rules and go off book to do what they believe to be right for the benefit of the customer and the organization. The employees will take pride and ownership of their jobs due the independence accorded to them. This improves their job morale and overall productivity (Fagan, 2008).
With today’s fast changing work environment due to technology, it is important that some aspects in the status quo be challenged. Empowering employees provide an avenue for them to challenge the status quo that is usually prohibitive to meaningful development and advancement of organizations. Companies that operate on the status quo are likely to stagnate, giving competitive advantage to other companies.
The Paradox of Employee Empowerment
While the practice of employee empowerment has continued to receive praise from and organizations world wide, it is clear that it is still perceived with caution by many. Many managers fear that giving up managerial control and the power of decision making is a threat to the organization’s existence.
This is because many people do not wish to share power and authority with those junior in ranks. They fear losing the privilege and honour attached to the tasks that they perform. Middle level managers are the ones popular with this kind of situation as they fear for their positions (Scholes & Whittington, 2008).
To overcome this fear and possible cause of objection to empowering employees, managers should perceive themselves to be playing a more superior role; that of mentoring and coaching employees on taking up such responsibilities as decision making. This way, the managers feel important and success of the employees they mentor is their success too.
For an organization to embrace the culture of employee empowerment, it must appreciate certain values such as appreciation, respect, and value for its employees. Of the many ways that the organization can empower its employees, they all lead to delegation of work, duties, and responsibilities. Credit must be given back to employees and not management in cases of success. This encourages employees to perform even better in their current and future tasks.
There are a few shortcomings in this process, but it is evident that the benefits outweigh the problems. It is encouraged, therefore, that organizations take effort to empower their employees as a strategy for increasing productivity and improving employee relations and motivation within an organization.
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