Five Day Hotel Work Week Remains Lost In Translation
While much is being written about the minimum wage increase and labor shortage in Phuket's hotel industry, one item overlooked remains the commitment to hotel staff by employers.
One key touch point is the varying work week in island's hotels.
Two groups were instrumental is applying the five day work week during the last decade – namely Laguna Phuket with its arsenal of leading accommodation and the JW Marriott. While most of the internationally branded hotels (not all mind you) follow the practice a number of independent properties do. These are mainly in the upscale and luxury segment.
Moving along the trend are hotels which provide six days off per month, or else alternate with two days off per week is low season and one in high season.
Last but not least remains a considerable amount of legacy hotels and locally managed properties who remain on a six day work week.
Without a double labor is an expensive proposition for the service industry. The two largest expenses of hotels are staff and energy cost. In Phuket which has a decades old hospitality industry, it's been far easier for newer or opening properties to align practice than long operating ones.
It's unfortunate that productivity and creating a structure that is less staff intensive and allows employees to train and move up within an organization. In reality this is where many of the labor dispute issues arise, when you are bottom heavy with minimum wage earners who do not have the skill set to move forward in their careers.
Certainly quality labor remains key to keeping Phuket competitive with international standards. For older hotels who have not upgraded, the math is hard, as adopting a five day week would represent a significant cost rise. In other words the bottom line is eroded. Ultimatley the key question for the properties is can human capital be better deployed to be more cost efficient and also increase revenue to the hotel?
For international brands its essentially a widespread commitment to employees and is typically imported to wherever the chain operates. It's relatively easy to see why the upper and luxury tier properties have somehow all fallen into the same standard as they are trying to recruit and retain the best labor force on the island.
It's hard to say how far industry standards will evolve in Phuket but with Asia now tipping the scale into a developed economic profile, a greater alignment with western practices is inevitable.