Dublin Hotels Free e-Book©
This Free e-Book is based on exclusive and unique research conducted in two Dublin Hotels by Aspire4 staff. This Free e-Book is based on a Knowledge Audit of two Dublin based Hotels and the results of that Knowledge Audit are presented so that industry stakeholders may benefit from a depth of research and development rarely seen in the Irish Hotels industry.
The research conducted in this e-Book shows that:
“Hotels can save at least 18% on costs associated with staff turnover by conducting a Knowledge Audit of existing staff”.
The complete research paper contained in the e-Book can be accessed Free of Charge by simply clicking on the PDF icon. If you are a stakeholder in the tourist, hospitality or accommodation sector this Free e-Book is essential reading, the research and findings in this e-Book will be valuable to all industry types, academics and a variety of industry experts.
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Dublin Hotels Abstract
The retention of core workers in the hotel/hospitality sector is a key challenge for human resource management, organisational strategies and operational effectiveness. The purpose of this research was to investigate and evaluate the impact of the introduction of knowledge sharing tools/techniques and change in work practice on the retention attitudes of knowledge workers in two context specific environments. Problems relating to the retention of knowledge workers are not confined to Ireland and are shown in this project to be a global phenomenon.
Traditionally, knowledge workers have been considered to work in professional fields such as computer programming, medicine, engineering and so forth, however, this paper argues that the tacit and explicit knowledge of knowledge workers within the hotel/hospitality industry are the core knowledge ‘assets’ of that industry, and therefore the term ‘knowledge worker’ and its traditional highbrow connotations may be outdated and need to be replaced with a more world view that recognises all worker types in all work environments as ‘knowledge assets’.
The importance and justification for this research project is clearly set out in the introduction and subsequent chapters; the importance of the subject area is established as key themes are outlined and critiqued. A comprehensive review of the literature relating to knowledge management is set out and leads to a discussion which asks if knowledge management is a consultancy creation or a natural evolutionary chapter in the management genre. The challenges facing knowledge management initiatives within the hotel industry are discussed. Key models from the literature relating to tools and techniques for a knowledge management initiative are presented.
This research project is based on a knowledge audit of core knowledge workers/assets in two context specific environments and that knowledge audit allowed for the construction of a work/training rotational matrix, a new concept developed by this author. The work/training rotational matrix in this project is simply used as a visualisation for the recommendations flowing from the knowledge audit.
The work/training rotational matrix is presented in this project as a paper based prototype, however, beyond the scope of this project it is expected that the work/training rotational matrix will be developed to a stand-alone IT system that will be dedicated to reducing the cost of human resource filtration within the hotel/hospitality sector and improve knowledge worker retention. One of the key aims of the project would be to leverage technology to assist in the implementation of the knowledge management initiative; technology usage will increase as the model matures.
The knowledge audit in this project is based on a unique collective set of 70 pre-tested questions relating to socio-metrics, knowledge sharing readiness, training audit, willingness to train, job rotation, team player, precarious work, motivation, job satisfaction, perception of management on career development, retention, loyalty, turnover intent, motivation and job design. The literature and previous research links all of these elements back to knowledge worker retention.
The project has also uncovered a number of interesting facts including the initial identification of the ‘new precariat’ and the replacement of the traditional model of worker ‘loyalty’ with a much more tenuous model described in this paper as ‘Velcro-attachment’.
This project takes issue with previous research which strongly argues that low paid workers fit-neatly into a clearly defined box labelled as the ‘precariat’.
Dublin Hotels Introduction
Overview of Project area
The initial inspiration for this project came from the researcher’s knowledge of the hotel/hospitality industry in Ireland.
It was clear from the researcher’s own knowledge, that worker retention in the hotel/hospitality industry was a significant problem, and that hotel management needed to identify not only the reasons why staff leave, but also ask what might make them stay. While globally recognised brand names such as The Hilton Hotel Group have clearly defined human resource strategies and documented knowledge inventories such as staff training manuals (Knox and Walsh, 2005), the vast majority of small, medium and some large hotel enterprises fail to recognise the importance of human resource and knowledge management initiatives in relation to worker retention. The hotel/hospitality sector is heavily dependent on the tacit and explicit knowledge of its workers; this is a service industry that rarely engages with knowledge management initiatives and this lack of engagement may be directly related to the failure of the hotel/hospitality sector to recognise the value of, and retain, its core knowledge assets, its workers.
The term ‘knowledge worker’ is most often linked to those professionals working in areas of engineering, computer programming, medicine and so forth, however, without the tacit and explicit knowledge of all worker types in the hotel industry, the hotel industry could not function, and therefore, it will be argued in this project that traditionally invisible hotel worker types such as house-keeping and so forth should be elevated to the position of knowledge worker/asset for the purposes of this project and beyond.
The aim of this project is to introduce knowledge sharing tools/techniques and change in work practice into two medium sized hotels in Dublin in order to measure the impact of those tools and techniques on the retention attitude of a sample of knowledge workers/assets. Worker retention is important as the cost of hiring and training new staff is significant. There are also intangible costs related to staff turnover including lack of continuity in customer service, low staff morale and so forth.
Dublin Hotels Background
Perhaps two of the most dramatic, yet counter-veiling, evolutionary events in business over the past two decades have been the dawn of the new economy, which has mainly been driven by developments in IT, and secondly, the catastrophic consequences of the global economic downturn which took hold in or about 2006. Both of these evolutionary events have pushed companies to consolidate and reconcile their knowledge assets as a means to creating value that is sustainable over time, never before have extensive knowledge management efforts been needed in order to survive in what are contracting and uncertain global and domestic markets.
Organisation and knowledge worker competencies in the knowledge economy are often the key factors that offer competitive advantage to any enterprise, yet there appears to be an absence of an effective and systematic competency based approach to knowledge retention. Without such approaches organisations may be left without key elements to survive (Novak and Beckman, 2008).
Tourism in Ireland is a significant industry with a global customer base, generating considerable value in terms of exports, employment and tax revenues. Tourist numbers to Ireland in 2012 remained positive and were on an equal par with figures from 2011 and this can be attributed to a number of factors including the drop in value of the Euro against sterling and the US dollar. Tourist numbers to northern Europe were also positive with a growth of +6% in the first six months of 2012. In the first 6 months of 2013 there has been an increase of 5.4% of overseas visitors to Ireland.
The growth in Hotel development during the economic boom years in Ireland was mainly driven by significant tax breaks offered to property speculators. During the boom year’s hotel staff from kitchen porter to hotel manager, were able to hop from hotel to hotel without showing any loyalty to their employer, and evidence in this dissertation will suggest that this lack of loyalty and investment was reciprocal. This rapid growth in hotel capacity was accompanied by a huge growth in the indebtedness of hotels. There were 26,802 new rooms added to the register in the period 1999-2008, with an estimated total investment of €5.2 billion and debt of €4.1 billion. This debt relates primarily to new hotels and in particular to hotels developed after 2004. According to a report compiled for the Irish Hotels Federation by economist Alan Ahearne those hotel debts may be as high as 6.7 Billion Euros (irishtimes.com, 2012).
In the post-boom period the Irish hotel sector employs tens of thousands of workers. It is not possible to accurately state how many people are employed in the tourism or hotel sector in Ireland, this is due to the employment of casual staff for events such as weddings, seasonal work and so forth, however, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures state that 119,600 people were employed in ‘accommodation and food service activities’ in the period April to June in 2009, a fall of 8.1% from 130,200 in the same period in 2007. This figure accounted for 6.2% of the total employment in this period in 2009 (see, also, Appendix B).
Despite the numbers employed and continued positive tourist numbers, the heavy borrowings attached to many hotels have seen those hotels go into liquidation; receivership or the toxic debts attached to those hotels are now in the control of the National Assets Management Agency (NAMA). A sharp indication of the negative equity in the industry was highlighted on the 29th of August 2012, when the Burlington hotel, Dublin, which was purchased in 2007 for 288 Million Euros was put on the market with a guide price of 55<65 Million Euros and sold in November 2012 for 68 Million Euros.
NAMA have endeavoured to keep the hotels now in their control running as going concerns in order to reduce the financial impact on the tax payer and to keep workers in those hotels employed. However, the Irish Hotels Federation (2010) states that:
Failure to foreclose on insolvent hotels is damaging to the long term interests of the tourism and hotel sectors.
This financial pressure on the industry has led to uncertainty and is having a significant impact on workers in the industry, many knowledge workers/assets are choosing to leave their employment for other service sector industries. As an example of the fluid nature of hotel staff, even in the midst of a deepening recession in Ireland, on the 8th of June 2012, Ireland’s leading online recruitment agency Jobs.ie was advertising over one-thousand jobs in the hotel and hospitality sector, this compared to three-hundred Information Technology jobs on the same day.
With such high levels of worker turnover in the hotel/hospitality industry there is a significant negative impact on organisational efficiencies, morale, continuity in customer service and so forth. These core workers that are checking-out of their hotel jobs are the key knowledge repositories of those organisations, the tacit and explicit knowledge of all hotel worker types is the very oil that drives the day to day operations of each individual organisation and the industry in general. While many might dismiss the notion of a hotel receptionist being a knowledge worker when compared with the very technical knowledge of a nuclear physicist, the reality is that an experienced hotel receptionist is as important to their organisation as any specialist engineer is to their particular field.
It is against this background of financial uncertainty, low pay and poor terms and conditions of employment in the hotel/hospitality sector that this work is undertaken; this project aims to measure the retention attitude of knowledge workers/assets in two context specific environments. This project will try to establish what knowledge sharing tools/techniques and change in work practice can be introduced in order to positively improve knowledge worker retention in the industry.
Dublin Hotels Research problem
This research project is based on two medium sized hotels in Dublin, Ireland. The aim of the project is to introduce knowledge sharing tools/techniques and change in work practice into those hotels in order to measure the impact of such knowledge sharing tools/techniques and change in work practice on the retention attitude of a sample of hotel workers. The research is designed in order to try and extrapolate a tool-kit that may be applied to other hotel types in order to improve worker retention. This project proposes to assess support mechanisms to improve knowledge worker retention.
Traditionally, knowledge workers would be considered to be those engaged in highly technical work such as computer programming, chemistry, engineering and so forth. One would not traditionally consider a chamber assistant to be a knowledge worker, however, in the hotel/hospitality sector; the majority of knowledge relating to the day to day running of any business type is heavily dependent on the tacit and explicit knowledge of its workers. Hence this dissertation will elevate hotel/hospitality sector workers to the level of knowledge workers/assets in order to highlight the importance of such workers to the hotel/hospitality sector.
If a hotel cannot retain its core workers, then that hotel cannot maintain any level of efficiency, productivity or continuity in customer service. It may well be shown that the term ‘knowledge worker’ is out-dated and that it may be time to consider all workers in all work environments as knowledge assets. Existing research suggests that the retention of Knowledge Workers can be achieved by creating a knowledge sharing environment. The idea that learning involves a deepening process of participation in a community of practice has gained significant ground in recent years (Smith, 2003). Extensive research will be carried out, and an experiment will be undertaken. A specific area of interest therefore will be to investigate the impact of introducing knowledge sharing tools/techniques and change in work practice on the retention attitudes of knowledge workers in an industry with a high dependency on the tacit and explicit knowledge of knowledge workers.
The need for continuity and improvement in customer service within the hotel/hospitality industry was recently highlighted in comments by both the Irish Hotels Federation and the Minister for Employment. In particular the need to offer staff training and career development opportunities, as proposed in this project, is supported by the President of the Irish Hotels Federation, Mr Michael Vaughan, who said:
Specialist training could improve the abilities of porters and bar staff, chamber assistants and others, very often these people are the first points of contact with the Irish for the visitor (irishtimes.com, 2012).
A thorough literature review will be undertaken before initiation of the experiment. A knowledge audit in this project refers to an in-depth interview with individual knowledge workers based on pre-determined questions that are concerned with the acquisition and elicitation of the tacit knowledge of knowledge workers in two context specific environments. The knowledge audit is being driven in this project by the need to create knowledge inventories and identify knowledge gaps, in the hope that those knowledge gaps may be bridged by offering knowledge workers up-skilling, work rotation and knowledge sharing opportunities.
The project will aim to evolve the technology to support the overall knowledge management initiative. One of the key aims of the project is to leverage technology to assist in the implementation of the knowledge management initiative; technology usage will increase as the model matures.
Guided by the results of both the literature review and the knowledge audit an investigation will be undertaken in order to identify tools and techniques that can be engaged to tackle the knowledge worker retention problem. Light-weight tools and techniques will be assessed for suitability for both the problem in general and the test organisations in particular. The results from the experiment as well as the knowledge gained from the literature reviews will be used to implement a system that facilitates best practice in knowledge worker retention for two context specific environments, such retention is desirable in order to ensure competitive advantage, continuity in customer service, and cost savings in terms of hiring and training new staff.
The impact of the project on the retention attitude of knowledge workers will be assessed qualitatively, by engaging knowledge workers in a post-project questionnaire and comparing those responses with the responses to the pre-project knowledge audit, to establish whether the introduction of such knowledge sharing mechanisms and change in work culture has changed attitudes towards retention. The impact on the organisation will be less easy to establish in the short term, however, in the long term worker retention can be measured and compared with pre-project employee turnover rates.
Dublin Hotels Aims of Research
The aims of this project include the drive towards developing a model for best practice in knowledge worker retention by providing a supporting and sharing environment through the introduction of knowledge sharing tools/techniques and change in work practice. The project will provide a number of recommendations from an extensive knowledge audit that will ensure the promotion of organisational hygiene. The experiment will show how the introduction of knowledge sharing tools/techniques and change in work practice will improve, inhibit or have a neutral impact on the work retention attitudes of knowledge workers. The experiment will be followed by an analysis of attitudinal change and that analysis will help create a foundation for future research and investigation. This project sets out to establish; what are the things an organisation can do today to improve the retention of knowledge workers/assets and promote organisational hygiene; this project will show how to attain knowledge worker retention. The key question is whether introducing a knowledge management initiative that focuses on the creation of a knowledge sharing environment will encourage knowledge workers to stay in their jobs. A key aim will be to try and extrapolate tools and techniques to create a framework and tool-kit to be applied to a range of hotel types to improve worker retention.
Dublin Hotels Project Objectives
The objective of this project is to measure the retention attitudes of knowledge workers within the two context specific environments, prior to commencing the project, knowledge workers would be subject to an extensive knowledge audit, the recommendations from this audit will be captured in the work/training rotational matrix. Following the introduction of knowledge sharing tools/techniques and change in work practice, worker attitudes will be measured by means of a questionnaire in order to gauge the negative/positive/neutral impact of the experiment on worker attitudes to retention.
A model for best practice in worker retention within the hotel industry:
1. Review of the Literature relating to knowledge management/sharing to establish best practice in the area with specific focus on communities of practice and change in work culture.
2. Review of the Literature to identify key challenges in the area of knowledge worker retention and leading approaches to retention improvement.
3. Conduct a knowledge audit of knowledge workers in two test organisations to identify attitudes towards retention and challenges to retention in two specific organisations in the hotel industry.
4. Assess the suitability of a range of tools and techniques for application to the problem of knowledge worker retention.
5. Identify a set of suitable metrics to assess the effectiveness of knowledge retention initiatives.
6. Develop knowledge sharing initiatives and supporting tool-kit to better support knowledge workers in two specific organisations in the hotel industry.
7. Asses and evaluate the effectiveness of introducing knowledge sharing initiatives and supporting tool-kit on attitudes to knowledge worker retention in two specific organisations in the hotel industry.
8. Examine the potential for extrapolating tools and techniques to create a framework and tool-kit to be applied to a range of hotel types.
Dublin Hotels Research Methodology
The project aims to evaluate the impact of the introduction of knowledge sharing tools/techniques and change in work practice on the retention attitudes of a representative sample of knowledge workers in two context specific environments. A thorough literature review will be undertaken before the initiation of the experiment in order to inquire whether, knowledge management is a powerful discipline focused on the effective application of knowledge to achieve organisational goals (Novak and Beckman, 2008). Prior to the commencement of the experiment a representative sample of knowledge workers/assets in two context specific environments will be subject to an extensive knowledge audit. Post-experiment, knowledge workers will be subject to a questionnaire. Acquisition and elicitation of knowledge from knowledge workers will be central to the experiment.
As a direct result of an analysis of the knowledge audit, a work/training rotational matrix will be created to present an easily understood visualisation of the recommendations from the audit; knowledge workers will be offered training, job-rotation and introduced to knowledge sharing tools/techniques in order that they may meet their desired potential. Understanding the knowledge, expertise, competencies, and career aspirations of the entire workforce are a crucial foundation to organisational improvement (Novak and Beckman, 2008). Due to the nature of the representative sample in this research, face-to-face interviews will be conducted, as many of the subject group, for example, house-keeping, would normally be invisible on a day to day basis. It is suggested that field observations may be especially important when accompanying surveys of populations that are hard to access or when researchers run the risk of misrepresenting “invisible” groups (Horgen-Friberg and Tyldum, 2007).
An investigation will be undertaken in order to identify tools and techniques that can be engaged to test the research question. Light-weight tools and techniques will be explored for implementation of the experiment. The results from the experiment as well as knowledge gained from the literature review will be used to implement a system that will facilitate knowledge worker retention. The tacit and explicit knowledge of knowledge workers or the intellectual capital of knowledge workers is central to the tourist industry and can have significant influence on the value of any enterprise within that industry (Kot, 2010). This utilisation of knowledge workers/assets and their competencies is described by Novak and Beckman (2008) as ‘competency logistics’, such an initiative will ensure that knowledge workers are provided with the correct competencies, so that the enterprise and its core units can achieve its short, medium and long-term objectives.
Dublin Hotels Scope and Limitations
The project aims to evaluate the impact of the introduction of knowledge sharing tools and change in work practice on the retention attitudes of knowledge workers in a two context specific environments. This project proposes to assess support mechanisms to improve knowledge worker retention. It is recognised that hotel receptionists are key knowledge workers/assets, and often function as a third tier of management, for this reason, the receptionist job type will be singled out for special attention in this project.
Existing research suggests that the retention of knowledge workers can be achieved by creating a knowledge sharing environment. Smith states that:
The idea that learning involves a deepening process of participation in a community of practice has gained significant ground in recent years (Smith, 2003).
Extensive research will be carried out, and an experiment will be undertaken. A specific area of interest therefore will be to investigate the usefulness of introducing knowledge sharing tools/techniques and change in work practice in an industry with a significant dependency on the tacit and explicit knowledge of its knowledge workers/assets.
A thorough literature review will be undertaken before initiation of the experiment. A knowledge audit in this project refers to an in-depth interview with individual knowledge workers based on pre-determined questions that are concerned with the acquisition and elicitation of the tacit knowledge of knowledge workers in two context specific environments. The knowledge audit is being driven in this project by the need to establish knowledge inventories, knowledge gaps, in the hope that those knowledge gaps may be bridged by offering knowledge workers the opportunity to up-skill, rotate jobs and engage in new training opportunities.
The knowledge audit and its subsequent knowledge gap analysis can help establish the knowledge workers knowledge strengths and weaknesses. The knowledge audit will also provide information that should allow the knowledge worker and the organisation to exploit opportunities and threats. The recommendations gleamed from the knowledge audit will be utilised to create a work/training rotational matrix which will be used as a visualisation to present those recommendations; the work/training rotational matrix is a concept being developed by the author of this project to help support knowledge worker retention and therefore reduce the cost of human resource filtration.
Guided by the results of both the literature review and the knowledge audit an investigation will be undertaken in order to identify tools/techniques and change in work practice that can be engaged to tackle the knowledge worker retention problem. Light-weight tools and techniques will be assessed for suitability for both the problem in general and the test organisations in particular. The results from the experiment as well as the knowledge gained from the literature reviews will be used to implement a system that facilitates best practice in knowledge worker retention for two specific hotels; such retention is desirable in order to ensure cost savings in terms of hiring and training new staff.
The impact on the knowledge workers will be assessed qualitatively to establish whether the introduction of such knowledge sharing mechanisms and change in work practice has changed worker attitudes towards retention. The impact on the organisation will be less easy to establish in the short term, however, in the long term the company balance sheet may become the key metric for measuring the impact of knowledge worker/asset turnover. This project is based on a small sample of knowledge workers in two medium sized hotels in Dublin, Ireland, any results or findings will not be universally applicable to the hotel/hospitality sector. However, the sample of knowledge workers in this project accounts for 30.0% of the total work force in the two medium sized hotels that are the subject of the project, and therefore the results and findings of this project may have external validity for hotels of a similar size and knowledge worker/asset portfolio.
Dublin Hotels Intellectual challenges
The intellectual challenges in this project are follows:
- The Hotel sector as a whole, with few exceptions, has not looked at knowledge management as a challenge
- There is no accountability for high staff turnover in the hotel industry as a whole or within individual organisations
- The costs associated with worker turnover are both tangible and intangible and so are not clearly visible on the company balance sheet
- Being armed with a clear understanding of the Data Protection Acts 1988/2003 and in particular how sensitive data must be protected, prioritising the rights of the research subjects over any research need
- Clearly establishing the knowledge and communication flows within the two context specific environments under investigation without interrupting normal work practice.
Dublin Hotels Resources for research
The researcher had a number of important contacts in the hotel/hospitality industry, while these contacts would make access to management and staff easier, nothing could be taken for granted. The entire process from the outset had to be a kind of trade-off; senior management would buy into the research if they believed there was something in it for them. Senior management were told that certain tools, techniques and change in work practice would be introduced and that recommendations would be presented. There was always the possibility that something positive could come from the research and senior management were not going to miss such an opportunity.
Access to staff was always going to be tapered by certain considerations, it is no secret that many hotel/hospitality back of house staff work on a casual basis, and in this arrangement are paid cash-in-hand, they often are and wish to remain ‘invisible’. However, this project would not be intruding on the rights of any worker and anyone who did not wish to be interviewed would be respected for that decision. There was a great deal of mistrust initially with some workers making it very clear that they would not take part in the research. Making clear arrangements for the interview schedule was the key to conducting the knowledge audit, it was important to set preliminary timeframes and then allow subjects to fit in to the various time-slots. Table 1, sets out both the technical and non-technical resources used during the project.
|Technical and Non-technical resources required for this project 2012|
|Technical||laptop||Back-up hardware||Internet access||Microsoft word||Microsoft excel||Blog||iMindMaps||Online library||Dictaphone||Discs||Printer||Projector|
|Non-technical||Timeline||Mind-Map||Conceptmap||Partner Organisation||People access||Experiment subjects||Knowledge audit||Community of practice||Interviews||Survey||Library||Paper||Peer review meetings|
|Free versions of software such as iMindMaps were utilised in this project|
Table 1 Project technical and non-technical resources
Dublin Hotels Overview of Research Project
The aims of this project include the drive towards developing a model for best practice in knowledge worker retention by providing a supporting and sharing environment through the introduction of knowledge sharing tools/techniques and change in work practice. To provide a number of recommendations that would ensure the promotion of organisational hygiene.
Chapter 2: Worker retention in the hotel sector: The project is set in two medium sized Dublin hotels and this chapter addresses key issues relating to worker retention issues in the hotel industry including an introduction to worker retention, cost associated with worker turnover, skills utilisation and worker flexibility.
Chapter 3: Knowledge management, evolution or creation: The literature review asks if knowledge management is a natural evolutionary chapter in the management genre or whether it is a consultancy creation. The literature review drills down into the principle of knowledge management, covering key areas of knowledge management.
Chapter 4: Knowledge Acquisition Design: This chapter offers a comprehensive walk through of the acquisition design and knowledge audit process in particular, from idea conception, question design and pilot questionnaires. It is shown that the knowledge audit does not have a universal template.
Chapter 5: Knowledge Acquisition, implementation, analysis and evaluation: This chapter sets out the knowledge audit questions, how those questions were piloted, and an analysis of the pilot questionnaire. The knowledge audit implementation, analysis and evaluation are clearly set out.
Chapter 6: Work/training rotational matrix: From the analysis of the knowledge audit a work/training rotational matrix was created in order to present an easily understood visualisation of the recommendations following from the knowledge audit.
Chapter 7: Communities of Practice: The online and face-to-face communities of practice would be used to support the recommendations flowing from the work/training rotational matrix, issues such as communication and knowledge sharing could be addressed.
Chapter 8: Post project evaluation: This chapter sets out the purpose, aims, objectives and design of the post-project questionnaire. The implementation of the post-project questionnaire is described. The findings and analysis of the post-project questionnaire is clearly set out.
Chapter 9: Evaluation and conclusions: This chapter offers an overall evaluation, draws conclusions and makes recommendations.