By Cris Grossmann, CEO and co-founder of Beekeeper

Hotel managers have a thorny challenge to solve: they must ensure exceptional guest service, while dealing with staff scheduling challenges and punishing turnover. While other service businesses like restaurants and retail stores close after business hours, hotels are always open. That means managers need to schedule staff around the clock, ensure adequate coverage during peak hours and seasons, and accommodate staff requests for time off. That’s increasingly a difficult task as worker departures soar; in January 2023 alone, 5.4% of all accommodation and food service workers quit their jobs.

Shift coordination can be a struggle for staff members, too. In addition to delivering service with a smile to all types of guests, hotel staff deal with unpredictable hours and a lack of visibility into what’s coming next. It’s not uncommon for hotel managers to release and communicate new schedules via paper forms or bulletins, phone calls or group texts. Staff must sort through these channels to understand how they’re personally impacted. And requesting paid sick leave or swapping shifts with colleagues is not always possible.

When employees don’t find out their schedules until the last minute, they have difficult choices to make. If staff accept unplanned work, they may have to give up sleep, find last-minute childcare and miss family events. If they skip work, they may not have enough money to pay bills or risk managerial censure or being fired.

If this happened only rarely, it would be stressful but manageable. The problem is that for many  it happens all the time. According to a study from researchers at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco, 37% of service-sector workers do not have regular schedules, 16% receive schedules with less than a few days of notice and nearly as many have shifts canceled at the last minute. Because of this, 45% of service-sector workers report feeling distressed.

Fortunately, there’s a better way to schedule staff, while keeping morale and productivity high.  Beekeeper’s 2023 Frontline Trends Report found that predictable and flexible shifts are top retention drivers for frontline teams. Enterprising hotel managers can use innovative shift scheduling tools and practices to address this ongoing pain point for workers, while keeping customer service strong.

Use Frontline Success Tools to Transform Shift Scheduling

With a frontline success system, hotel managers can move paper-based processes online and integrate all communications in a single, easy to use platform. As soon as managers update schedules, every employee can access them, using an app on their smartphones. In addition, employees gain the ability to optimize their schedules and workflow by being able to switch shifts in real-time, instantly flag unavailability and easily create digital shift handover notes.

That means that the worker who can’t get childcare can swap hours with a peer or can protect hours or days for family or vacation time. Workers can also use the platform to submit for paid time off and review pay summaries, decreasing misunderstandings about these two perennial hot topics.

When employees arrive at work, they can access handover notes to understand the tasks that need to be accomplished and any issues that need to be addressed. Staff can also access resources such as onboarding materials and best practices. That makes it easier for workers to understand what’s expected, learn key processes, and maintain demanding quality standards.

Improved shift scheduling also alleviates stress for hotel managers. By digitizing shifts, managers no longer have to print and reprint the shift schedule or call their employees every time they make a change, saving them hours every week. Additionally, by having the shift schedule available in an app on their phone, managers can stress less about employees missing shifts.

Use Shift Scheduling to Empower and Attract Workers

Hotel staff want to do their best work but also want greater control over their schedules and the ability to meet their personal life obligations. By using a frontline success system to improve transparency around scheduling and allow workers to swap shifts and protect time, hotels can become better employers. Empowered employees are happier, more likely to report for shifts and more productive. They’re also more likely to refer friends and acquaintances for open positions.

As hotels compete for the best talent, frontline success systems can help them connect with workers and streamline critical communications and business processes such as shift scheduling. Workers will naturally seek out these desirable employers and build long-lasting careers there. Customers benefit from better continuity of services, while hotels increase revenues and profitability. As a result, everyone wins with digital shift scheduling and flexibility.