Employee Policies for Hospitality: Key Considerations

In today’s ever-changing work landscape, employee handbooks are essential for companies of all sizes – and the hospitality industry is no exception. Hotels, resorts and timeshares are vulnerable to HR or legal issues that could arise due to a lack of documented company policies. Most importantly, exceptional customer service is essential in the hospitality industry which often lies in the hands of front-line, customer-facing employees.

For all these reasons and many more, companies should ensure that their values, expectations and policies are clearly documented and distributed to all staff, preferably in the form of an employee manual.

For a hospitality business, some key policies should be considered and be included in the employee manual as follows:

Mission Statement

Studies have shown that employee performance improves when workers understand the mission and higher-level objectives of a company – and this is especially true for the millennial generation.

This section of the employee handbook can really drive home the message that service is of utmost importance in the hospitality industry. Establishing this as a priority will help create a company culture and set the expectations to provide exceptional service.  Also, at the heart of any good company culture is team spirit. It’s important to demonstrate a strong sense of teamwork that is integral to creating a strong customer experience and set a positive tone for the policies and procedures in place.

Job-Specific Policies

The manual should provide specifics around the various key roles in the company. In the hospitality industry, roles are not as clear-cut as in an office environment. In an office environment, each employee may have a unique role versus a restaurant where there may be fewer categories of positions held by multiple employees, such as servers, bartenders, kitchen staff, etc. By standardizing policies for each of these roles, you ensure fairness, consistency and compliance.

Policy for Taking Breaks

It is wise for businesses providing hospitality services to develop company policies that address the matter of breaks. Hospitality jobs are often physical in nature and require standing or walking for long periods of time. Therefore, employees may require frequent short breaks. The policy should standardize the length and frequency of breaks, and identify any designated locations or prohibited activities during breaks. To protect the company brand, ensure that team members get their much-deserved break and minimize frustration from customers who may be waiting to be assisted, the policy should specify that employees remove or cover any company branded clothing or badges etc. during breaks. 

Safety and Emergency Procedures

Protecting employees’ safety and well-being should be every organization’s top priority. Be sure to include information about how to deal with illness or injury at work, equipment safety guidelines and how to report a health or safety concern. Also, include procedures to follow in the event of a fire or natural disaster and any other unique safety rules specific to the establishment or operation. For example, in a bar setting, the focus should be on alcoholic beverage services. Most importantly, the policy should address the prevention of accidents and safety and the procedures to deal with emergencies when they arise.

Dealing with Customers

Regarding hospitality and service, policies need to include specific guidance for dealing effectively with customers. For most companies, employees are the face of the entire operation and the impression they leave with customers can make a huge difference for your business. You will want to create a simple guide of what is expected and best practices.

Many companies in the hospitality industry may not offer remote work as an option for employees. However, with a desire for more flexibility in location and hours resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies and employees are choosing to work remotely at least some of the time, if possible and if offered by employers. If employees are allowed to work from home, the policy should include the following at the very least:

  • Describe who can work remotely and how often;
  • What hours do remote workers need to be available;
  • What communication standards must they meet; and
  • Whether the necessary work equipment will be provided or be reimbursed if employees purchase their own.
Social Media

One of the many uses of social media is the sharing of information. Billions of people rely on social media information when making all sorts of decisions, especially where to dine, business and vacation travel, experiences and other activities.  Companies need to protect their brand and provide guidance on the acceptable use of social media platforms.

These are a few examples of must-haves for a company policy manual, but there are many more and the manual should be reflective of the company, its business and the services provided. No matter the industry, every organization needs policies and procedures to operate effectively and successfully. The policies and procedures promote consistency across the organization for both employees and customers, which in turn builds your reputation for your organization. Without formal policies and procedures, your organization may not be reaching its potential. Developing and enforcing policies that reflect your workplace’s values make it a better environment for all employees. Also, they ensure compliance with laws and regulations, give guidance for decision-making and streamline the internal process. 

Republished with permission from Resort Trades.

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For more information, please contact a member of Withum’s Hospitality Services team.