The executive housekeeper is the backbone of any hotel. You may wonder how I can make that statement considering it is the front-of-house staff and the appearance of the hotel that seem to be the key aspect of any such facility. But here is the basic truth, the housekeeper and the housekeeping staff are responsible for a lot more than just the appearance of the hotel, its feel, the front-of-house staff, etc. This is the team that cleans and ensures that the hotel is well decorated and kept clean and hygienic every single day. It carries out the operations of the hotel to the T every single day.
However, several issues plague the housekeeping department. All of them showcasing the lack of awareness! One of the first issues is the fact that young professionals join hotels in this department due to the concept of it being one of the most glamorous jobs. There is nothing glamorous about housekeeping - it is sheer hard work. And, as they realize it, they move from the housekeeping department pretty quickly to other more front-of-house departments.
The second issue is that housekeepers are not valued as much as they should be in the hotel. When a housekeeper takes over a hotel, that hotel and its occupants become his/her most important responsibility and the commitment level is at its highest. In view of the current pandemic, their role has been seen to be even more valuable and sometimes most risky - because they are in constant touch with guests and their rooms.
The third issue is in-house department politics. Other departments take it upon themselves to police the housekeeping department. Whether it is by pointing out issues with housekeeping, or cutting budgets thereby tightening the purse strings even further.
The housekeeping team in general has a lot of challenges in house - it has several sub-departments under their purview - uniforms, cleaning, engineering, laundry, and the staff who they have to train constantly. Juggling it all together makes it a tough task.
- With the current onslaught of online reviews, the housekeeping department is one of the most pressured. Charged with the responsibility of ensuring a positive experience - this is one of the major touch points for any housekeeper.
- Housekeeping staff perform physical tasks regularly. Hence, health and safety plays such an important role in their operations. Understanding potential occupational hazards for the staff is a key responsibility of the housekeeper.
- Retention and recruitment of staff. The staff is key to the success of the hotel. Investing in their training, in recruiting new staff, in working on constantly positively reinforcing them is important.
- Sustainability - when a hotel works on becoming more sustainable, it is the housekeepers responsibility to implement the policy at every level of the hotels operations.
As a result, it is even more important for housekeepers to be valued in their spaces and given the freedom to carry out their operations seamlessly. Support in terms of training, and constructive feedback is always welcome!
About the author:
Minakshi Pandey is a housekeeping professional with 16 years of experience. She is a hotel architect and interior designer with an MBA in human resources management and hospitality operations. She has experience working in Kuwait, London, India and the UAE.