Globalization and advancements in information and communication technology have caused tremendous changes in various sectors of the economy, especially, the hospitality industry. Many businesses in the hospitality industry have joined the global market in the last decade.
This move has been informed by high competition in the domestic market, globalization and improvements in the exportation and importation of services. Consequently, most businesses serve customers from diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Furthermore, most organizations have had to employ people from different social and cultural backgrounds.
This has led to the emergence of a diverse workforce in the modern workplace. Diversity refers to the “variety of experiences and perspectives which arise from differences in race, culture, religion, mental/ physical ability and gender”. Thus, diversity refers to the human characteristics which are significantly different from our own attributes.
Diversity also includes differences in work experience, educational achievements, as well as, geographical location. These differences affect how people interact at the workplace. They also affect employees’ performance, motivation, as well as, career development.
Through diversity management, businesses can understand how socio-cultural differences affect the performance of their employees. Diversity management refers to the process of bringing together individuals with different social, economic and cultural backgrounds into a cohesive, harmonious and productive unit.
It involves examining and reforming organizational structures that prevent inclusivity at the workplace. Empirical studies show that effective diversity programs are beneficial to the organization. Concisely, they facilitate high productivity, motivation and innovation among employees.
Ignoring diversity, on the other hand, is likely to cause low morale, discrimination and poor performance in the organization. Thus, every organization should focus on effective diversity management in order to improve its competitiveness in the industry. This paper will shed light on the concept of diversity in the context of the hospitality industry. Additionally, my human resource functions in the industry will be presented.
Causes of Diversity
Diversity at the workplace has been caused by the following factors. To begin with, the number of immigrants has increased in the country. Immigrants usually come from different cultures. Thus, hiring immigrants results into a multi-cultural workforce. Enforcement of antidiscrimination laws has also forced many employers and citizens to be tolerant to people who come from different cultures and social orientations.
Most labor unions advocate for equal employment opportunities to all citizens irrespective of their social backgrounds. Thus, employers have embarked on improving diversity in their organizations in order to avert any opposition from labor unions.
Demographic shift is another factor that has contributed to diversity at the workplace. Many businesses in the hospitality industry have had to employ individuals who understand the needs of the most important generations. For instance, hotels and restaurants that target the youth normally include youthful employees in their management teams in order to enhance product development.
As competition increase in the domestic market, most companies have had to join international markets. Due to legal and political issues, multinational companies have been forced to recruit employees in the overseas markets. Additionally, sending expatriates to work in overseas subsidiaries tend to be expensive. Thus, most multinationals have employees from different socio-cultural backgrounds.
The Benefits of Diversity Management
Human resource managers need to focus on diversity management due to the following reasons. First, diversity management enables businesses to attract, hire and retain the best talent in the market. Research shows that jobseekers prefer to work for companies that are tolerant to cultural, racial and ethnic diversity.
In this regard, a firm that promotes diversity is likely to attract the best talent. In the hospitality industry, the success of product differentiation and customer service improvement efforts depends on the competencies of the employees.
Consequently, demand for highly talented employees has been on the rise. However, businesses can still access the best talent by incorporating diversity management initiatives in their human resource policies.
Second, diversity management helps in reducing the costs associated with labor turnover and absenteeism. Labor turnover and absenteeism tends to be high in organizations whose managers pay little or no attention to employees’ feelings, perceptions and differences.
Such organizations are also characterized by cases of discrimination and low staff morale. These factors normally precipitate mass exodus of employees from organizations. Third, high commitment among employees can be achieved through diversity management.
In this case, managing diversity helps managers to create a sense of belonging among employees. It also helps in improving interactions/ relationships in the organization, as well as, building cohesion and tolerance among staff members.
Fourth, diversity management enables companies to improve their reputation and to develop a positive rapport with local communities. Organizations with weak diversity management structures tend to have poor reputation and financial performance. Last and most importantly, managing diversity is one of the best ways of improving the performance of the business.
Focusing on diversity enables managers to acquire knowledge on the best strategies for operating in different cultures. In the hospitality industry, high customer satisfaction can be achieved if the customers’ cultural orientations are taken into account during product development.
In this regard, it is important to hire people who understand the customers’ culture in order to develop the right product. Furthermore, the best marketing strategies can be developed if the process is led by people who understand the market.
For instance, most multinational hotels usually recruit their marketing executives from the markets in which they operate. The rationale of this strategy is that locals have a better understanding of the market. Consequently, they are likely to develop marketing plans and policies that reflect the needs of the market.
Negativity of Diversity
The benefits of diversity can only be realized if it is well managed. Diversity can also be a major source of poor financial performance, especially, if it occurs in a clandestine manner. Generally, large organizations tend to take deliberate measures to hire a diverse workforce. Consequently, they are ready to manage the challenges associated with diversity.
However, small organizations tend to recruit people from different social backgrounds without realizing that they are creating diversity in their workforce. In this case, diversity is likely to have negative effects in the organization. Some of these effects include the following.
To begin with, diversity is likely to cause communication problems. It is apparent that people from different cultures are not likely to speak the same language. This leads to communication barriers in the organization. Communication barriers have both internal and external impacts.
At the internal level, it hampers coordination of work and relationships among employees. Work coordination becomes difficult if the employees are not able to understand each other. Additionally, instructions from managers and supervisors can be misinterpreted due to poor understanding of the language that is being used at the workplace.
Companies whose employees have a low command of the national language are likely to offer poor customer service. In order to address the problem of language barriers, most organizations usually employ interpreters to facilitate communication among employees. However, employing interpreters involve high costs which reduce the business’ ability to expand.
At the external level, communication barriers can lead to misunderstanding between the company and the public. For instance, incorrect use of a local language in an advert can cause public outrage and loss of customers. Additionally, communication barriers hamper effective exchange of feedbacks between the organization and the public or customers.
Diversity is one of the major causes of cultural resistance at the workplace. It changes the nature of relationships and interactions at the workplace. Employees who lack training on diversity are likely to be intolerant to foreign cultures.
Consequently, they will tend to interact only with people from their cultures. This leads to poor cooperation and teamwork. Additionally, cases of discrimination and low morale tend to be high in organizations in which employees resist foreign cultures. The tensions associated with cultural resistance eventually results into low productivity.
Diversity Management Strategies
Effective diversity management involves “planning and implementing organizational systems and practices to manage people so that the potential advantages of diversity are maximized while its potential disadvantages are minimized”. As a result, the organization will be flexible and adaptable to emerging market needs. The process of managing diversity must be led by individuals who possess the right skills and knowledge.
In general, the following skills are required for effective management of diversity. The manager should have a good understanding of diversity concepts and how to apply them within the organization.
Consequently, the process should be led by a person who has undergone training about diversity and has experience in applying the acquired knowledge. The manager should recognize that diversity is embedded in all aspects of management. This means that the manager should be able to incorporate diversity management initiatives in every role or duty that he performs at the workplace.
Self-awareness is also important in diversity management. The manager should understand his own culture and learn to make decisions that are free from cultural bias. It is also important to understand the cultures of other employees in order to avoid making decisions based on stereotypes and assumptions.
In a multicultural workforce, understanding the culture of every employee can be very difficult. However, the manager should be willing and able to learn the cultures of his employees. Finally, the manager should be willing to challenge organizational practices that encourage intolerance at the workplace. The specific strategies for managing diversity include the following.
Ensure Management Commitment
Diversity management is likely to be effective if the process is supported by the company’s top leadership. In this regard, the management plays the following roles. First, the management is expected to demonstrate commitment, as well as, accountability. The management should be able to indentify the most appropriate performance measures to be used in diversity management.
The measures must be relevant and acceptable in the organization. Additionally, the management should set specific performance targets to facilitate effective management. In a nutshell, the targets should be used as benchmarks for monitoring the progress of diversity management programs on a regular basis.
The management should also allocate adequate resources to support the implementation of diversity management initiatives. The required resources include personnel, funds, technology, as well as, training facilities.
Second, the company’s management should clearly communicate the importance of diversity. This will enable all members to understand the value of an inclusive and harmonious work environment. Additionally, clear communication will enable the management to win the support of junior employees in its quest for cohesion at the workplace. Management meetings can be used to articulate the importance of diversity.
However, management meetings are likely to lockout junior employees in the discussions concerning diversity. Consequently, the management can take advantage of company events such as end of year parties to engage employees in discussions about diversity. Additionally, line managers can use informal sessions to discuss various aspects of diversity with the junior employees.
Finally, the company’s leaders should be role models to all employees. They should actively participate in the implementation of diversity management initiatives. For example, managers should participate in diversity training programs in order to encourage other employees to do the same.
Similarly, managers should be part of employee network groups in order to strengthen their relationships with junior staff members. The behavior of top managers should be informed by the organization’s values that promote diversity. For instance, managers should avoid behaviors such as favoritism.
Reform Human Resource Functions
Diversity management initiatives should be incorporated in human resource functions. Concisely, the initiatives must be reflected in activities such as staff recruitment, staff compensation, performance appraisals and dispute resolution. During staff selection, human resource managers should accept applications from a diverse applicant pool.
Affirmative action can be used to ensure that applications are received from all groups of potential employees. During interviews, specific skills and personal attributes must be identified and used to select the employees. For instance, the company can focus on recruiting people who are able to tolerate cultural differences.
Similarly, people who can speak different languages can be hired in order to minimize the conflicts caused by language barriers. The interviews should be conducted by a panel that consists of people from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds.
Applicants should be hired based on academic qualifications, leadership skills and work experience rather than personal attributes such as race, age or gender. Staff performance appraisals should be based on productivity and work related variables such as leadership skills and relationships with other employees. Similarly, promotions and pay rises should be based on performance.
Adequate training is an important aspect of diversity management. In a multicultural workforce, employees must be trained on the importance of diversity. Such training will enable employees to appreciate their differences and focus on cohesion. Through training, employees will acquire skills for managing disputes that might arise due to their cultural differences.
The training process should be led by qualified personnel. Outsiders can be invited to provide expert advice in the training sessions. Since cultural change takes place over a long period of time, training on diversity should be offered on a continuous basis. Furthermore, the training should be incorporated in the employee orientation programs. This will help new recruits to understand the importance of diversity and how to achieve it.
My Human Resource Management Functions
The human resource manager plays an important role in the hospitality industry, especially, in hotels and restaurants. Human resource management in the hospitality industry tends to be different as compared to other industries. The industry provides a series of services whose quality depends on the employees’ competencies, motivation and attitude towards work. Besides, the industry primarily serves tourists from different cultures and social backgrounds.
Thus, the individual tastes and preferences of each customer must be considered in all operations in the industry. Employees play a fundamental role in the provision of excellent services to customers. However, this can only be achieved if the employees are well managed.
Hence, the importance of human resource department in the hospitality industry becomes apparent. The responsibilities of human resource executives include staffing, training employees and designing job descriptions. They also formulate and implement policies that guide staff compensation and employee retention. These functions are applied as follows in the hospitality industry.
Success in the hospitality industry begins with the hiring of the right employees. In this regard, the recruitment process must help businesses to hire people with the right attitude, as well as, behavioral attributes. During the selection and recruitment process, several assessments are often used to determine the work orientations of potential employees.
These assessments include the applicants’ work values, personality, as well as, interpersonal skills. The applicants’ problem solving abilities should also be taken into account. These attributes help human resource specialists to determine the applicants’ ability to offer services in the hospitality industry.
High labor turnover is one of the major challenges in the hospitality industry. Many employees usually quit within their first year of employment in hotels and restaurants. The main causes of high turnover in the industry include poor pay, lack of growth opportunities, unfavorable work conditions and inability to cope with workload.
High turnover is costly to businesses in terms of lost productivity, high cost of replacing employees and loss of talented staff. Consequently, reducing turnover helps in saving time, money and increasing productivity. This can be achieved through employee retention policies such as introducing flexible work schedules in order to prevent fatigue.
Obtaining feedback from the employees concerning work processes and organizational policies help in understanding workers’ concerns. Turnover can be reduced significantly if the grievances of the employees are addressed in time. Additionally, promoting cultural tolerance helps in retaining employees in a diverse workforce.
Training and Development
Training and development is one of the most important human resource functions in the hospitality industry. Training helps in imparting knowledge, skills and abilities to workers. Consequently, it contributes to innovation, product development and improvement of customer care services.
However, most businesses in the industry are yet to realize these benefits since their investments in staff training tend to be a reactive process. Such businesses use training as a means of coping with immediate problems such as poor service quality.
Staff training and development can be beneficial if it is conducted in a proactive manner. In this regard, the role of a human resource specialist is to identify employees’ training needs. He is also responsible for developing a suitable training program in order to bridge the identified skill gaps among employees. Training and development can be done on-the-job or off-the-job.
On-the-job training is the most suitable for hotels and restaurants since it involves learning by doing. It enables employees to acquire practical skills as they also create value to the organization. However, on-the-job training can be abused if its implementation is not well planned.
Hence, its implementation requires proper planning, structure, as well as, supervision. Off-the-job training is often done in a learning institution through lectures, discussions and practical sessions. It helps employees to acquire conceptual skills on various aspects of their jobs.
It is important to evaluate employees’ performance in order to determine their strengths and weaknesses. Empirical studies have shown that most employees often quit their jobs due to biased or unfair performance appraisals. A fair appraisal system can help in reducing biases in performance evaluations. Businesses such as hotels should adopt a 360 degrees appraisal system to evaluate their employees.
The evaluation system should focus on productivity and the behaviors of the employees. Feedback or information about productivity and behavior should be obtained from various stakeholders such as customers, managers, colleagues and suppliers. Additionally, the managers should be evaluated by their juniors in order to provide a balanced view on their performance.
Providing services in the hospitality industry requires effective coordination among employees. Effective coordination and interaction among employees is often achieved by creating a work environment that is not only inclusive, but also harmonious. Promoting inclusivity is also one of the best ways of managing diversity in the hospitality industry.
Strategies for promoting inclusivity include the following. Formal and informal activities such as sports can be organized to promote teamwork among workers. Workplace designs should facilitate interaction at the workplace.
For example, hotels usually design their kitchens in a manner that facilitates sharing of equipment among cooks. Additionally, locating cooking stations in a central place facilitates consultations among cooks and other kitchen staff members.
Some hotels and restaurants have buddy systems in which new recruits are assigned to the incumbents to foster relationships and interactions. Similarly, employee networks have been used successfully to promote inclusivity in most hotels. These networks usually consist of employees who share some work attributes such as being members of the same department.
Mentorship programs are often provided through these networks in order to promote productivity and tolerance among employees. Large organizations often use employee networks to involve workers in decision making processes.
In this context, employee networks are used to enhance autonomy, creativity, as well as, cooperation among workers. For example, cooks in a hotel can use informal meetings to discuss alternative cooking methods. Their conclusions can then be forwarded to the management for consideration and approval.
Employees’ compensation packages should reflect the value of their effort at the workplace. It is the responsibility of the human resource manager to ensure that employees are adequately compensated. An effective compensation system helps in reducing labor turnover, as well as, improving motivation and productivity.
Employees whose shifts are longer than 8 hours should be compensated for the extra time. The compensation system should also promote productivity by rewarding employees for attaining or exceeding quality targets. In general, the compensation system should be fair and acceptable to all employees.
Diversity refers to the human characteristics that differentiate people from different socio-cultural backgrounds. These characteristics include race, religion, gender, work experience and academic achievements. These attributes affect interactions and employees’ performance.
Hence, appropriate diversity management systems must be put in place in order to maximize the benefits of diversity and to reduce its disadvantages. The benefits of diversity management include high productivity, recruiting the best talent, reducing labor turnover and improving the reputation of the company.
However, poor management of diversity can lead to discrimination, low morale and dismal performance at the workplace. The most important human resource functions in the hospitality industry include staff recruitment, retention, compensation, training, performance appraisal and promoting inclusiveness. Staff recruitment, training and promoting inclusiveness facilitate diversity management.
Staff retention and compensation policies help in improving staff motivation and commitment. Fair performance appraisal and appropriate staff training and development facilitate high productivity. Businesses in the hospitality industry should incorporate their diversity management initiatives in human resource management functions in order to succeed.
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