Labor Compliance: Technology to the Rescue

labor Compliance

Labor expense is a costly affair for the hospitality industry, accounting for a large chunk of the total operating costs. Hotel owners and managers need to consider all aspects that contribute to or affect the needs of their labor. Changes in labor laws or challenges the employees face should be observed, noted, and resolved at the earliest. Such prompt actions ensure that the employees are happy and satisfied, resulting in a decrease in employee turnover.

Managers face multiple challenges in the hotel, both related to labor and non-labor, on a daily basis. Resolving these issues can divert their attention and take away their time from other essential tasks. Recent advancements in the field of technology have been created to address these labor compliance issues in the best way possible. Technology can, in more ways than one, streamline operations, so that hotel operations run smoothly and efficiently.

Labor Challenges faced by the Hospitality Industry

  • Retention: It is no secret that hospitality faces the highest employee turnover rate. A high turnover rate results in hotels having a lousy reputation affecting their revenue. Therefore, it is crucial to eradicate these issues from its roots. Having a well-organized team can help you manage this issue. They can not only help you reposition your hotel as an excellent place for hospitality careers but also bring in more qualified personnel.
  • Wage and Hours: Employees in the hospitality industry are paid wages based on regional market rates, which can be minimal. Therefore, these employees, at times, make-up for these minimum salaries by earning income via tips. Another problem, related to labor, is the number of hours actually worked by the employees. This must be thoroughly checked by the supervisors as the hours being claimed by the employees could vary.

How can technology be of aid?
The ratio of changes in technology and labor laws is 2:1, where technology is growing at double the pace in comparison to the labor laws. Technology is faster, both in evolution and optimization across all fields. The Labor Department authorities in the past have observed that managers or hotel owners may be hesitant to adopt new technology. Adopting a new form of technology brings with it expenses of installation and maintenance. This is in addition to the time to be spared for training the employees on how to run the application.

Cross-Department Functions
Hospitality is an industry which comprises various departments that need to function with each other to provide the guests a pleasant stay. A need may arise for better alignment between operations, IT, and compliance departments as they tend to work in isolation. Working cross-functionally with each department is necessary as they all have different areas of expertise that are needed to ensure compliance. The operations department knows what they need for a task to be successful. At the same time, compliance can help mitigate the risks, and IT can help implement the technology needed to make everything come together.

Recording Hours – Worked and Paid
With software like WrkSpot, hotel management can capture the number of hours worked by employees and their time-off approvals. It even captures a time that employees spend on work-related tasks outside of their scheduled shifts on an hourly basis, which can actually be of benefit to the employer. Capturing the hours worked (both mandatory and voluntary), for which the employees are adequately compensated, can be quite motivating for them to work further. Such a software also ensures that the employees work for as many hours as they claim.

Clock-In and out timings
Technology does not just create liability when it comes to labor laws; it can also help companies be compliant. Many companies that make use of software like Wrkspot ensure that employees are clocking their work and are taking their full break. Having these systems in place ensures that the staff cannot complain that they weren’t given their full break.

Watch out for misuse of technology
The hotel owners or managers must apply a rule restricting the use of technology for work. The staff should know and understand that they should use employer-provided communication technology only during working hours. They must also be made aware of the consequences of not adhering to this rule.

Conclusion
Labor compliance is a sensitive and risky arena. Technology being logical and consistent brings in transparency in both communication and knowledge. Therefore, accommodating it in the ways previously described ensures clarity. Employees do not feel cheated and instead feel compensated for all their hard work and ultimately their loyalty makes your brand look good.

Ways in which tech can help run the ‘New Normal’ hotels

Tech

The emergence and prevalence of COVID-19 pandemic have left economies around the world shaken and in bits in more ways than one. Although it has been a situation that could not have been anticipated, it has undoubtedly acted as a wakeup call to sectors, economies and individuals around the world. After a brief lockdown, it is now time to open up and join the world and start a ‘New Normal’ life that is built on the learnings brought by the pandemic.

It is important to follow new protocols of social distancing and to implement better health policies than what was present earlier. As much as these may be tracked manually, implementing technology into this equation will only help serve your guests better. For a while, after the lockdown is lifted, guests may be a little apprehensive to crowds and thus, expect higher standards of hygiene. They would greatly appreciate if hotels follow social distancing and minimize the need for person-to-person contact.

Ideally, the hospitality industry thrives on serving customers in a face-to-face manner. This may now have to be replaced with self-service technology as below:

Contactless payment modes
WHO is encouraging sectors to move to contactless payments as a method to combat COVID-19. This is because the spread of the virus via unsanitized paper notes or card payments is relatively high. Both these modes undergo exchanging hands and therefore coming into contact with the virus through these modes is easy. Hotels, can, therefore, switch to contactless payment methods of digital wallets such as GooglePay, PayPal, etc. or the “tap and go” payment platforms. This curbs the need to come in touch with physical contact and thus lessens the spread of the virus.

Check-in/Check-Out facilities
Traditional methods of check-in/check-out include customers having to join a long line of customers at the front-desk resulting in them having to make conversations with each other and later the exchange of identification details at the desk. All of this puts both the staff of the hotel and the customer at risk of spreading and contracting of germs. Switching to mobile-based self-service technology breaks this link. A guest can make use of a mobile-based technology or a self-service kiosk placed at various stations to check themselves in or out. With a kiosk that is AI-enabled for facial recognition and ID scanning, the guest need not touch the screen at all.

Keyless Room Entry
Since guests can make contactless check-ins through the kiosks or their phones, this can also help them enter their rooms without the need for a room key. Fuel is one such provider of guest-facing hotel software solutions for the global hospitality industry that allows your guests to access their rooms using their mobile phone as a digital key. This application is also designed in such a way that it eliminates the need for guests to stop at the check-in counter and directly move into their rooms since it helps them check in remotely.

Digital menus
Guests that move in the hotel may have to visit the restaurant for meals. As a place that has the potential to bring in crowds, hotels need to look out for alternatives to the same. The best solution for this would be to implement applications such as MyMenusOnline. This is a form of a new touchless digital restaurant system. All a guest has to do is scan their tableside QR code to view the restaurant’s menus online on their mobile device. In case of upgrades concerning food in the restaurant or addition such as ‘daily specials’ will be updated automatically in this menu keeping the customers abreast with the updates in real-time This is a better alternative to making use of disposable menus that will only increase the operating costs of the hotels.

Housekeeping Software
The most significant change that hotels need to implement is a heightened need to keep their rooms and other areas impeccably clean and germ-free at all times. Therefore, having a hotel management system that can take care of these operations is the utmost need of the hour. Many countries are now upgrading their hygiene standards for their hotel rooms. Singapore has implemented an SG clean standard for its hotel rooms that make it compulsory for housekeeping to be more stringent when it comes to practices such as temperature screening of employees and policies for dealing with outside suppliers. Having a mobile PMS ensures quicker efficiency since it can be run through a tablet. On the other hand, a cloud-based PMS enhances housekeeping management checklists, to ensure that the hotel is in sync with the latest COVID-19 guidelines.

Conclusion
COVID-19 has wholly turned the hospitality industry and a “new normal” awaits once the pandemic subsides and people begin joining the world. Incorporating self-service tech that assists a guest to move through the hotel without human contact will help a hotel stand out. Hotels that invest in self-service technology will be in a better position to thrive in the ‘New Normal’ world that is more conscious of health, hygiene, and social distancing. All of this while increasing the convenience of their guests and personalizing their stay at the hotel.