Postado em quarta-feira, 15 de março de 2023 08:55

It’s no secret that housekeeping — and the Canadian tourism industry at large — is facing labour challenges.


As Destination Canada’s Quarterly Tourism Snapshot Q2 2022 revealed, as the industry has steadily added back jobs, “the ability to fill these jobs hasn’t kept pace.” And, at the end of Q2 2022, 149,000 tourism jobs went unfilled.

The perception of the industry as a work place plays a key role in the ability to attract talent. According to Tourism HR Canada’s recent Perceptions of Tourism as a Place of Employment in Canada report, perceptions of pay and opportunities for career growth within the industry are not especially favourable. More than half of survey respondents (54 per cent) expressed a belief that the pay for most tourism jobs is not enough to lead a satisfactory life. And the perception among those who previously worked/currently work in the industry is even less favourable. Among this group, 64 per cent don’t believe the pay is enough to lead a satisfactory life, while 55 per cent believe the level of fringe benefits in tourism is insufficient.

In the face of these stats, the report notes: “To ensure tourism is portrayed in a more attractive light, it is vital that compensation and career advancement opportunities satisfy those currently in the sector.”

And, given that the housekeeping department accounts for a significant portion of a hotel’s work force, attracting, retaining and meeting the needs of workers in this department is integral to a hotel’s success. In fact, data from B.C.-based go2HR highlights ‘cleaners’ as the second-largest employment category in the accommodation sector (after ‘accommodation service managers’).

Nicolas Messian, regional director for New Castle Hotels & Resorts and general manager of The Algonquin Resort in St. Andrews, N.B., points out that a property/company’s culture and larger value proposition are central to attracting and retaining talent.

Mandy Farmer, CEO, Accent Inns Inc. agrees, explaining that the company’s people-first approach has allowed it to largely avoid the labour challenges the rest of the industry has faced. “We’ve put more resources into our recruitment efforts and a large part of that is telling our culture story and attracting candidates that align with our values.”

Of course, rate of pay is also a prime consideration. Messian notes The Algonquin has reviewed pay rates and no longer pays minimum wage for new housekeeping positions. “We usually pay [between] $1 to $1.50 above the minimum wage,” he explains.

As Farmer explains, the whole package is important to consider when it comes to employee satisfaction. “We devote a lot of resources to ensuring that we are offering a safe and inclusive workplace culture, fair compensation and life-enriching perks for our people,” she shares. “It’s big things, like a really comprehensive benefits package that includes mental-health resources, as well as perks that are often overlooked, like flexible hours for working parents or opportunities to grow within ourorganization.”

These factors are just as important when it comes to retaining existing team members.

“Our goal is to keep people once we have hired them,” says Jim Stewart, director of Human Resources, Chelsea Hotel Toronto. To this end, “[Housekeeping] managers constantly check-in with their team to ensure they are getting the support they need. We work for the friendliest hotel in Toronto, so we ensure our colleagues feel the same.”

A property’s relationship with the local community is also a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to shaping the perception of the hotel as an employer and attracting new members to the team.

Messian calls out how valuable fostering connections with the local community has been for The Algonquin and other tourism business in the region, especially given the seasonal nature of tourism in St. Andrews. In particular, he points to a labour-sharing initiative that allows housekeeping staff “to step out of the rooms and do something different.”

“[The program] is about sharing; it’s about being united,” he explains. “I’m the president of the [St. Andrews] Chamber of Commerce, so I really tried to [create] that synergy within all the members of the of the chamber.”

Another aspect of community connection is industry organizations, many of which have been expanding their workforce-focused resources, such as online training, networking and recruiting channels.

One example is British Columbia Hotel Association’s (BCHA) creation of a new position intended to better serve its members needs in the face of the current employment challenges, naming Alison Langford the association’s first-ever Workforce Specialist in early 2022. In this role, Langford aids members as they navigate hiring resources and programs such as the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. She also plays a key role in domestic and international recruitment efforts for B.C.’s accommodation sector.

Organizations such as the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA) have also leveraged training and accreditation programs to support employment in the industry. The association has also focused on providing channels for employers to connect with jobseekers, through platforms like FindWRK and through partnering with Discover Ability Network to connect inclusive employers to the disability labour market.

Finally, the way in which work is done is also important to maintaining a happy and invested housekeeping team. One strategy employed at The Algonquin, is dividing up cleaning tasks amongst team members. “We have separated tasks that usually [would be done] by one or two persons and we rotate people…it breaks down the monotony of of the of the role,” shares Messian. Also, during peak season, staff often work as duos, cleaning rooms together. “That synergy is usually well received, especially with the younger crowd,” he adds.


by Kostuch Media Ltd. | Danielle Schalk | Hotelier Magazine