Given LeadingHôtelières purpose (increase female leadership in the hospitality sector) and changes in the world of work and employees’ expectations, we sought to understand the contributing factors and outcomes of flexibility in the hospitality industry (i.e., hotels). Key takeaways from the study are:
1. A large majority of hotels have labor flexibility and there is substantial room for improvement regarding work flexibility (employee freedom to organize themselves).
2.A family-friendly corporate culture and supervisor behavior lead to greater work flexibility.
3.Work flexibility benefits both employees and hotels (increases innovative capabilities, company resilience, employee wellbeing) while labor flexibility benefits primarily the hotels.
4.There is a discrepancy across different internal stakeholders on the availability and use of work flexibility and this discrepancy negatively affects organizational resilience and job satisfaction.
5.There is no effect of gender on the association between the contributing factors and flexibility and flexibility and outcomes and this might indicate that flexibility is not gender-specific, in line with the growing trend due to the changes in the world of work.
The research results described in the following pages propose best practice suggestions to build greater flexibility that will benefit individuals and organizations.
Flexibility is not new. For over half a century, professional women with family responsibilities have advocated for flexibility to be able to work and navigate their careers.
Yet little attention was given to flexibility because it was considered a ‘woman’s issue’, exclusively a debate for working moms. Today, flexibility has become a hallmark of companies with great cultures. Two macro changes are pushing flexibility into the mainstream around working cultures and expectations. Download the full document to learn more about these.
Only 10% of hotels in our study have high work flexibility as reported by HR. The vast majority have low (58%) and medium (32%) levels of work flexibility. Interestingly, work flexibility as reported by the employees differs; only 7% of hotels have high work flexibility. The vast majority have medium (61%) or low (32%) levels of work flexibility. Overall, these results indicate that there is substantial room for improvement when it comes to work flexibility in the hotel industry. In addition, these findings reveal that there is discrepancy in practices (HR and employees).
Only 9% of hotels have low levels of labor flexibility as reported by the GM. The vast majority have medium (49%) and high (42%) levels of labor flexibility. These results are in line with what has been predicted in that the use of labor flexibility as a norm in the accommodation sector. Even though work and labor flexibility appear to be somewhat opposite, there is no negative association between them. In addition, labor flexibility as reported by the HR differs and again reveals discrepancy.
Hotel culture and supervisor behaviors impact work flexibility (as reported by employees); such that hotels with greater family-supportive cultures and greater family-supportive supervisor behaviors score higher on work flexibility. These results are in line with previous research and indicate that in order to enhance flexibility organizations need to intentionally design a culture where managers’ expectations help employees manage their work and non-work responsibilities.
A family-supportive culture is not associated with labor flexibility, there is no relationship. Interestingly, greater family-supportive supervisor behaviors led to higher labor flexibility. These results are counterintuitive. Yet, this might indicate that having a supportive manager who helps employees manage their work and non-non work responsibilities does not necessarily translate into supportive leadership (labor flexibility was assessed by the GM).
Hotels with greater work flexibility (as reported by employees) score higher in innovative capabilities, organizational resilience, and staff wellbeing. These results show that work flexibility benefits both individuals and hotels.
Hotels with greater labor flexibility (as reported by the GM) score higher in innovative capabilities and organizational resilience. These results show that labor flexibility primarily benefits hotels.
Within hotels, discrepancies exist between the GM and HR regarding labor flexibility (e.g., the GM indicates that there is low labor flexibility, and HR indicates otherwise). In about 30% of the hotels, the discrepancy is meaningful and large. Discrepancies indicate that people are not on the same page and can influence what information regarding flexibility is communicated and how.
Within hotels, discrepancies exist between HR and employees regarding work flexibility, in particular part time work, work scheduling, and compressed work weeks. Discrepancies exist in perceptions of part-time work as HR reports more availability than actual use by employees. Discrepancies also exist for work scheduling and compressed work week, but in a different direction as HR reports less availability than actual use by employees. These results might indicate that employees organize themselves (with supervisors) as they see fit. This also means that if work flexibility is informally applied then making it formal will enable the hotel to be a more attractive employer.
The greater the discrepancy between HR and employees regarding work flexibility, the lower the organizational resilience and job satisfaction (which we measured together with employee wellbeing). These results show that the consequence of discrepancy is negative, in particular when HR claims availability of flexibility yet employees do not perceive it can be used.
There is no effect of gender on the association between contributing factors of flexibility and flexibility and outcomes. Having more female GMs or women in leadership positions does not strengthen or weaken the association. This might be explained by the low number of women in senior roles found in this study (19% of female GMs). On the other hand, these results might indicate that flexibility is not gender-specific, which is a trend that has gone mainstream.