The article highlights the very common profile of the hotel cleaners across the globe. Regardless to geographic differentiation, hotel cleaners are preferably women, minorities, and immigrants who work in adverse health conditions like extended working hours, chemical exposure, ergonomic strain, lower job control, poor pay, varied physical as well as mental risks (Hsieh, Apostolopoulos & Sonmez, 2013). These adverse exposures have provided disproportionately increased health disparities amidst service occupations, involving musculoskeletal disorders, strain injury, psychological distress and allergies. The case scenario depicts the meagre profile of the hotel cleaners who are exposed to various work hazards, and also proposes some measures to minimize the hazards for improving occupational safety as well as health of these hotel cleaners (Gomez, 2014).
This profile may be compared to that of an employee working in the front office of a hotel in a way that hotel cleaners are individuals who work behind the scene, whereas those working in front office usually represent the hotel or organization. Thus, front office workers need to be much more presentable towards clients at any point of time. Moreover, they remain in the most safe and healthy environment, unlike that of the hotel cleaners who are compelled to work in the most unhealthy environment and often dealing with hazardous substances (Hutchison, 2001).
As referred to in the case scenario, the author has highlighted upon some of the factors affecting job conditions of hotel cleaners. They perform cleaning jobs in resorts, hotels and motels. They are meant to clean guest rooms for meeting quality standards of respective hotel. Their job states about the necessity to conduct customer service skills while encountering hotel guests and also contributing towards customer satisfaction. The hotel cleaners have the responsibilities such as cleaning guest rooms, public areas and hallways within hotels (Iacobucci, 2014). Their tasks include changing bed sheets, makings beds, polishing and cleaning furniture, emptying wastebaskets, washing and mopping floors, replenishing supplies, etc. Certain situations like guests checking out quite late or making rooms extremely dirty often delay processes of work. This forces the hotel cleaners to work overtime. There is a common practice by hotels to recruit cleaners depending on the variations within rates of room occupancy, thereby leading to seasonal, part-time or variable work hours. Under such circumstances, hotel cleaners often work for more than one hotel, or get employed in another work to make both ends meet (Krause, Rugulies & Maslach, 2009). Although hotel cleaners hold important jobs, yet they are considered to belong to the lowest-remunerated individuals, and that the pay may not be compared reasonably with that of other hotel cleaners. So, it may be inferred that their pay is slightly more than the minimum wage.
Besides extended work hours as well as low pay, there are some serious work hazards that the hotel cleaners are exposed to while performing cleaning tasks on a regular basis. Some of the broad categories of work hazards are physical hazards, chemical hazards, biological hazards, and psychosocial hazards.
Physical hazards – The job hotel cleaners demand tasks such as lowering, lifting, pushing and rotating mattresses, carrying, folding and tucking linen, pulling pillows, stretching and bending of equipment that involve repetitive movements (McCarthy, 2015). These tasks include heavy static muscular loads, aerobic strain, awkward postures, and overexertion work are some factors that put the cleaners at increased risk for physical injury. They are most prone to suffer repetitive movement injuries. These are termed as physical hazards that are intensified by poor ergonomic design of cleaning equipment.
Chemical hazards – The hotel cleaners are much exposed to chemical hazards in cleaning products used in cleaning bath tubs, sinks, mirrors and toilets, including that of solvents and ammonia which irritate skin, throat, nose, eyes and cause dermatitis and other diseases. Exposure to volatile compounds in cleaning products may cause respiratory diseases and enhances carcinogenic risks (Robert Batterman, 2002). Some products may even damage reproductive organs or kidneys.
Biological hazards – These are infectious agents causing risks of illness, or even death of workers. During their work processes, the workers may come in contact of broken glassware, some medical wastes, human excreta, used needles, contaminated waste and other microbial contaminants and these may put them at risks of their lives.
Psychosocial hazards – These include violence, stress and bullying may affect health as well as wellbeing of hotel cleaners potentially. Stress may occur when the job demands exceed the ability of the workers (Scherzer, Rugulies & Krause, 2005). The cleaners perform tasks in adverse psychosocial conditions of work including strenuous work, time constraints, heavy workloads that cause them to race through jobs for meeting regular work demands. They often suffer from lack of adequate control over organization, lack of recognition or respect from managers, lack of support from all superiors and peers, fear of joblessness, etc. Constant exposure to these hazards and related stress may lead to physical as well as mental problems. Stress in turn leads to various disorders leading to depression or heart attack.
It is important to safeguard the hotel cleaners and other similar workers from various hazards in order to maintain organizational effectiveness and reputation. Some of the measures that may be applied to mitigate the impacts of hazards are:
Strategies to recruit and retain hotel attendants are:
The contrast between organizational structure and duties of housekeeping department of large and small hotels may be studied with the help of the following figures. In case of large organizations, the structure is quite complex and vast in nature. The hierarchy is quite firm and each of the housekeeper is responsible to his immediate head or supervisor in the very same department as well as that of the topmost management (Scherzer, Rugulies & Krause, 2005). In this manner a chain of hierarchical positions exist to conduct various tasks of the hotel operations (Figure 1). The hotel cleaners are liable to do only that job for which they are hired and they undertake take few pre-decided jobs.
On the other hand, the organizational structure in small organizations is simple in form with not much hierarchy of positions. Here, the housekeeper is liable only to his immediate superior. In small organizations due to simplicity of organizational structure, often workers are required to undertake varied jobs at a time.
Burgel, B., White, M., Gillen, M., & Krause, N. (2010). Psychosocial work factors and shoulder pain in hotel room cleaners. American Journal Of Industrial Medicine, n/a-n/a. doi:10.1002/ajim.20832
Gomez, C. (2014). Plan conference attendance for 2015. Recruiting & Retaining Adult Learners, 17(4), 9-9. doi:10.1002/nsr.30015
Hamilton, J. (2009). Trends and Strategies in Recruiting and Retaining Talent. Journal Of Petroleum Technology, 61(05), 34-38. doi:10.2118/0509-0034-jpt
Hsieh, Y., Apostolopoulos, Y., & Sonmez, S. (2013). The world at work: hotel cleaners. Occupational And Environmental Medicine, 70(5), 360-364. doi:10.1136/oemed-2012-100986
Hutchison, P. (2001). Strategies for recruiting and retaining health care professionals Part two: The right candidate. Home Care Provider, 6(2), 53-55. doi:10.1067/mhc.2001.115190
Iacobucci, G. (2014). All emergency departments should include GP staff, say experts. BMJ, 349(jul16 1), g4654-g4654. doi:10.1136/bmj.g4654
Krause, N., Rugulies, R., & Maslach, C. (2009). Effort-reward imbalance at work and self-rated health of Las Vegas hotel room cleaners. American Journal Of Industrial Medicine, 53(4), 372-386. doi:10.1002/ajim.20732
Krause, N., Scherzer, T., & Rugulies, R. (2005). Physical workload, work intensification, and prevalence of pain in low wage workers: Results from a participatory research project with hotel room cleaners in Las Vegas. American Journal Of Industrial Medicine, 48(5), 326-337. doi:10.1002/ajim.20221
McCarthy, C. (2015). Adopt these strategies to boost student persistence. Recruiting & Retaining Adult Learners, 17(8), 5-5. doi:10.1002/nsr.30048
Robert Batterman, L. (2002). Collective bargaining after September 11: What about job security and workplace security?. The Cornell Hotel And Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 43(5), 93-108. doi:10.1016/s0010-8804(02)80060-x
Scherzer, T., Rugulies, R., & Krause, N. (2005). Work-Related Pain and Injury and Barriers to Workers’ Compensation Among Las Vegas Hotel Room Cleaners. Am J Public Health, 95(3), 483-488. doi:10.2105/ajph.2003.033266
Seifert, A., & Messing, K. (2006). Cleaning Up After Globalization: An Ergonomic Analysis of Work Activity of Hotel Cleaners. Antipode, 38(3), 557-578. doi:10.1111/j.0066-4812.2006.00595.x
Sherwyn, D. (2002). Job Sharing A potential tool for hotel managers. The Cornell Hotel And Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 43(5), 84-91. doi:10.1016/s0010-8804(02)80059-3
Soltani, E., & Wilkinson, A. (2010). What is happening to flexible workers in the supply chain partnerships between hotel housekeeping departments and their partner employment agencies?.International Journal Of Hospitality Management, 29(1), 108-119. doi:10.1016/j.ijhm.2009.06.006
Tracey, J., Sturman, M., & Tews, M. (2007). Ability versus Personality: Factors that Predict Employee Job Performance. Cornell Hotel And Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 48(3), 313-322. doi:10.1177/0010880407302048
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