Amid a nationwide labor shortage, housekeepers and other essential workers are dropping their hotel jobs in northwest Arkansas in droves, leaving businesses understaffed and stressful intense on the remaining employees.
Many workers have left the hospitality industry – which includes food services, accommodation and tourism – for jobs offering more competitive wages, better benefits and more flexibility, according to Joblist’s third quarter survey of 25,000 American job seekers. About 25% of former U.S. hospitality workers surveyed said they would not consider returning to the hospitality industry, while 58% of current employees said they plan to quit their jobs. here the end of the year. One third said they were “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with their current job.
The Graduate Fayetteville, the city’s largest hotel, has been understaffed since it reopened in June 2020 following a three-month pandemic shutdown, chief executive Kevin Klein said. Despite wage increases of around 30% and the introduction of hiring bonuses and other incentives, Klein struggled to fill the positions of housekeepers, cooks, maintenance workers and laundry attendants, he said.
“It looks like when we give a hiring bonus, someone will come and work for us, collect the hiring bonus, meet the expectations for it, then move on and go work somewhere else and get their job. as a bonus (over there) then move on, ”Klein said.
Senior Priscilla Dufresne quit her job as a receptionist at Extended Stay America in Springdale in July after working there for about a year. Although the understaffing of most positions at the hotel was not so severe when she started working, people steadily quit their jobs throughout the year, Dufresne said.
“We were always short of staff,” said Dufresne. “And that can just put a lot of stress on someone, if you’re the only person working in really intense, stressful situations. It takes you a minute to call your boss, then you also need to make sure the guests are safe, then you need to look at the cameras as well, and you also need to make sure that you are contacting the right people that you are supposed to contact in order to to resolve the problem that occurred. So there is a lot going on at the same time.
Sophia Mullen, a sophomore AU student, has been working at the front desk of a hotel in Fayetteville for almost four months. Employees at her hotel quit every month and the pressure of understaffing on Mullen and other workers is mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting, she said.
“I at least know on reception that the turnover rate is insane,” Mullen said. “Since I started working there, four people have quit. In fact, it took my two weeks and then so many people quit I was like, “Oh, I can’t leave you short on staff like you’re going to be overworked. So I stayed last week even though (my last day) was supposed to be October 1st. And with the housekeeping, I know those who have been there a long time have stayed, (but) we have had three housekeepers who have left since I worked there, I think.
During Dufresne’s time at Extended Stay America, even employees who had been at the hotel for years and had built up a second family of colleagues left their jobs out of stress or out of a desire to find better paying, less demanding jobs, said Dufresne. She quit because she didn’t think the anxiety the job was causing her was worth it. She had not received a raise during the year she worked at the hotel, she said.
“I mean, the people were really great and I felt bad to leave, but it got to a point where it was too much to deal with,” said Dufresne. “It was not my responsibility to have the maintenance of the hotel at all times.
While there are some advantages to Mullen’s job, including friendships with coworkers and positive interactions with guests, the disadvantages outweigh them, Mullen said. She hasn’t been able to resign yet, but she hopes to do so when more staff are hired and never return to the hospitality industry.
“Customers are so rude,” Mullen said. “The people are so horrible with the management of the reception and the people, it’s awful. I’ve seen the worst people I didn’t even know existed since working there. Not only that, but the pay is just not enough for what we do, in my opinion.
Dufresne, Mullen and Klein said the most serious shortages at their hotels were in housekeeping staff. Hotel de Dufresne is owned by a management company that also operates another hotel in Fayetteville, and staff told him that between the two hotels there were enough housekeepers to maintain one, Dufresne said.
Before the pandemic, The Graduate had around 20 full-time housekeepers at any given time; now there are six, Klein said. Klein relies on short-term workers from temp agencies to help alleviate the shortage, and he helps out when he can by cooking, cleaning the rooms, making the beds and cleaning the hall, a- he declared. He is not optimistic that conditions in hotels will return to normal before 2023.
“Sometimes I wonder why I’m still doing this,” Klein said. “I’ve been doing this for 35 years, and I’ve been through a lot. I went through stock market crashes, I went through 9/11, I went through hurricanes when I was working on the coast – and I was on the coast when (Hurricane) Katrina passed. And you know, we’ve always seemed to bounce back pretty quickly, and I’ve never experienced anything like this.