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.

Implementing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in hotel operations

Disabled Person

An article in the New York Law Journal speaks of the Seyfarth Report for 2019, the findings of which state that yet another year created a record for ADA Title III lawsuits. The ADA Title III prohibits disability-based discrimination in places of public accommodation such as restaurants, movie theatres and schools, etc. New York, alone contributed 2,635 of the total reports filed nationwide. With rules and regulations provided by the American Disabilities Act (ADA), the numbers ought to have reduced over the years. The result, however, has been quite the contrary.

Today, as we stand at the peak of technology and make the lives of those being serviced at hotels better, there should be an ease in the way the disabled are treated. More than 50 million Americans have disabilities, out of which nearly 18% of the population are potential customers for the hotel industry.

Despite the act being established, the staff servicing in these properties aren’t well versed about their role with the disabled, the kinds of fears that the disabled have, displaying awkwardness when confronting them, and have preconceptions or misconceptions. A lack of understanding is equivalent to having little to no knowledge. However, is this really how they are supposed to function?

The ADA implementation in hotel operations

The ADA act comprises five sections in the form of Titles ranging from I-V. These Titles individually provide regulations regarding employment, public services, accommodations, telecommunications, and miscellaneous duties for hotels. As the owner or manager of the hotel, making physical site inspections to audit and ensuring that the property is compliant to the state and federal laws are few of the prime responsibilities.

Ignorance of regulations or instances where ADA hasn’t been complied with, brings heavy fines for the hotel involved. This then displays the hotel as inconsiderate and ignorant, which affects the revenue and reputation.

Some crucial regulations to be to incorporated in the operations for the disabled:

  • For newly built properties, hoteliers must provide basic amenities that can aid the disabled throughout their stay in the hotel. These include parking facilities, swimming pool lifts, check-in counters for wheelchair-accessible public entrances, pathways, ramps and/or lifts and restrooms.
  • For old properties, ensuring the stability of fixtures, placement of pieces of equipment, right angles that provide maximum accessibility are a must-check.
  • In recent times, most customers prefer a digital visit before actually visiting the hotel. Therefore, ensure that the content you put out on your website displays accurate ADA features being offered at your hotel. Also, make sure your online reservation systems are regulated and mobile applications are ADA compliant. Avoid sharing information that can be misleading or false since that can lead to a lawsuit. For example, in California, people with disabilities can question the validity of all kinds of barriers being displayed at the hotel without actually stepping into the premise. Such situations can be a perfect reason that plaintiffs and their lawyers might use to raise ADA lawsuits. This creates a perfect storm for “serial plaintiffs” and their lawyers to survive off of the settlements from ADA lawsuits.

Besides these, the ADA has published new lodging facilities, which you can find here.

Methods to implement ADA

Technology has advanced to the extent that it provides facilities to the disabled that takes them from point A to point B. Today there are software applications like Wrkspot that come with built-in features to ensure that the hotels operate keeping ADA in mind. Wrkspot excels at upgrading your properties to be ADA compliant by taking care of signage issues, parking maintenance, being aware of ADA titles, training the management to act responsibly, and conducting ADA violation checks. Such a software, when used for hotel operations, can massively help to avoid lawsuits.

Another way is the one found by Mr. Peter Slatin, co-founder of the Slatin Media Group, which is the provision of education and training to communicate with disabled customers in compliance with the ADA. Their educational program focuses on providing communication skills for serving guests who are visually-challenged, or have hearing or moving disabilities. They aim to provide a positive and complaint-free experience for such people. Hotels are expected to meet codes for safety and physical accessibility. But the real question is, how many are actually following these norms?

Conclusion
As an owner or a manager of a property, it is your responsibility to understand ADA compliances and its impact on the hotel facilities. Once understood, you must ensure that these are implemented and checked regularly. Your current and the future workforce, too, consists of millennials who need to adhere to ADA compliances. Therefore, it is crucial that as part of the management looking after the property you implement the act, so that the employees emulate it further. Hotels want to bring in these improvements but they must first be willing to do so.

Future 5: Glimpse into the next 5 years of hospitality

Future

A glimpse of the next five years of hospitality

Companies across industries create five-year and ten-year plans as future goals to accomplish. This helps them to remain focused and adhere to these plans even in the times of chaos. Before the pandemic of COVID-19 was upon us, all sectors, including the hospitality industry, might have had their plans in place to look out for their next five years in the industry. Now that the pandemic has taken place, hotels may have to rethink the way they operate businesses.

Going forward, the future 5-year plans may not be as simple as it may have been in the past. Apart from taking into account the changes pertaining to operational and management systems, hotels have to prioritize the health and well-being of their guests and staff, if they aim to stay at the top of the mind of their potential guests.

Let’s take a look at how the next 5 years of hospitality may unfold.

Sustainability
One of the key changes that people around the world witnessed during the pandemic were it’s positive effects on our environment and nature as a whole. Some of these changes include the decrease in the level of pollution leading to being able to breathe fresh air.

Maintaining these changes will remain a prime concern, even in the future, since we are beginning a new normal phase. This is a phase when a previously unfamiliar situation of living as we did during the pandemic will become a way of life going forward. Millennials, as the guests of today and a part of the future working teams at these properties, will demand that they are run on the principle of sustainability. A report by Deloitte states that millennials find it hard to trust businesses that do not have a positive impact on society. This means that hotels will have to eliminate the usage of single-use plastics, monitor the usage of water, find an alternative for disposal of garbage, and so on.

In accordance to the LEED rating system, you can maintain sustainability in terms of Indoor Environment Quality (IEQ) by making use of the below tips:
Make use of daylight, saving electricity wherever possible.
Convert guest rooms into smart rooms by installing temperature and ventilation control.
Provide guests with operable windows and lighting controls.

Global Expansion Plans
With countries imposing lockdowns and a halt on international travel, the current focus of hotels is to cater to their domestic market. However, once the lockdown is lifted people will begin to travel around the globe. Hotels must begin planning for events and increasing their reach and market to international crowds as well. Since the industry would be having a fresh beginning of sorts, it is time to include a global expansion strategy in the next five-year plan.

Hygienic Spaces
The post-COVID scenario includes all sectors to look after hygiene and sanitization, not as an afterthought but to be the most crucial criteria when opening up for businesses. Regular health-checkups, stringent measures taken for the well being of the staff and guests of the hotels, and changes in the internal operations of the hotel need to be on the top of the list of priorities. It will take a while before the virus is eradicated from our lives, even after the cure or vaccine is discovered for the same. So, for the next two years, at least, and perhaps even after that, it is imperative that health check-up routines are being followed as we have entered a period of “New Normal.”

Steady Recovery
In the past quarter of the year, the hospitality and tourism industry has taken quite a hit with the lockdowns that transpired around the world. According to a report by the AHLA, the pandemic has caused 70% of employees to be laid off. In these desperate times, where the workers intend to come back to work but cannot, these industries are to get back on their feet stronger and better than before. The industries were proud to be employing a huge chunk of the population, which unfortunately isn’t the case anymore. Even though the time taken to get back to normal may not go up to 5 years, it surely will need a while to get over the effects of the pandemic on the loss of jobs within the sector.

AI and Automation
With social distancing becoming a norm around the world, it is only a matter of time before people overcome the fear of getting out of the house. In the future, it would be beneficial for hotels to adapt to AI and automation within the hotels to promote social distancing and less physical contact. The presence of self check-in and check-out counters, IoT, Chatbots, cloud-based property management systems, blockchains, etc will only grow manifold in the next five years. Certain software like WrkSpot can come in handy since they merge AI with IoT, so turn properties into smart hotels.

Conclusion
The hospitality, travel and tourism industries have sure taken a hit in the last quarter of the year that may have eroded their efforts of the last 5 years. However, it is not too late to get back with altered plans that are focused on a stronger comeback and later, a stronghold in the industry. Slow and steady steps while focusing on customization of choices for guests is what would help hotels stand out among the crowd.

Must-have technologies for hotels

Technology

Usage of technology is now one of the most crucial elements for sectors around the world as they help to save time and increase efficiency. The hospitality industry has incorporated the use of technology in their day-to-day activities to streamline tasks resulting in customer satisfaction. Additionally, inculcating softwares helps to cut down on operational costs and the number of complaints that are received from customers.

Having a hotel management tech or a workflow management system such as WrkSpot in place has multiple benefits that are of utmost importance now more than ever. With the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s essential to implement operations that can run without the need for physical contact with one another, right from check-ins within the hotel to taking service orders at restaurants.

Currently, there are various kinds of softwares available in the market which have replaced multiple operations that previously required physical intervention. Let’s take a look at some of these.

Panic Button
Technology is constantly evolving and emerging with newer and unimaginable ways in which it can enhance human lives. One such technology that is a must for hotels and the hospitality industry as a whole, is the presence of the panic button when it comes to employee safety. According to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is approximately 6% decrease in turnover in the hospitality industry. At many instances, it has proven to be a lifesaver when employees were harassed within the hotel premises.

IoT in hospitality
IoT refers to the network of connected objects that communicate in sync and automatically. Having IoT within hotels seemed futuristic earlier but it is a reality today. Making them a part of conducting operations within hotels can help to reduce costs and provide your guests with a better experience. IoT may be used to automate the rooms of the guests where guests use a remote to adjust lights or by connecting their mobile devices to the hotel network, can reorganize their stay using their device. This makes it possible to understand guest preferences for meals, stay requirements, and it also helps to save money because most functions are automated.

Chatbots
One of the latest additions to the technology in the hospitality industry is the chatbot service. A chatbot makes use of AI to enhance and customize the guest experience. Installing a chatbot within the hotels helps minimize physical contact as most frequently asked questions can be answered via a chatbot, it can know the guests’ preferences while staying at the hotels, and it can also help sell other services within the hotel such as sauna in the spa, and so on. This helps provide them with a customized experience based on their preferences. As this is taken care of through chatbots, the staff is then left with more time on their hands to manage activities that require to be done manually.

Account Management
Investing and installing a hotel accounting technology is a must for the hotels of today. In contrast to the earlier days of administering accounts manually, a management system takes care of generating invoices and account statements, producing payslips, revenue and expense management, and so much more. Automating of routine accounting duties helps to reduce human errors and provides greater accuracy when integrated with a top-notch property management system.

Employee Retention
Employee retention is a critical issue for the hospitality industry. It is important that efforts are made to retain the employees that are leaving their jobs on account of the burden they experience due to manual tasks that could have been automated. This, due to turnovers, have an effect on the guest experience. Hotels must thus invest in technologies that help ease the burden of employees by automating certain tasks, training them to stay on top of their tasks, and the employees are in accordance with the labor-management laws.

Blockchain
Blockchain and cryptocurrency have come a long way since they were first introduced to the world. Today, these are multipurpose and used widely across sectors since they provide transparency, security, and control of electronic transactions. Hotels and vacation rental marketplaces can make use of Blockchain-based technology since it helps to manage bookings and can help offer services at a lower cost than other industries.

Conclusion
Inculcating technologies within the daily workings of hotels is a must for the guests of today and future young travelers. Having an all-in-one property management system helps to eliminate the worries of having to look for multiple forms of technology. WrkSpot is one such property management system that is created with the aim to simplify hotel operations to turn hotels into smart properties. With a focus on compliance and employee engagement, WrkSpot is an ecosystem that helps empower teams to run the hotel better. technology