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Be a champion of the deskless

The frontline staff throughout the pandemic deserve and need support – and our businesses need them

Whether working in small or large teams, most of our housekeeping staff are part of one of the world’s largest communities – the 2.7 billion deskless workers. Among their number are other hospitality staff, retail workers, healthcare employees and drivers.

This workforce often bore the brunt of tough conditions, awkward shifts, and natural anxieties in the face of Covid-19. There was no ‘Work From Home’ for them, and they had little choice when it came to employment or furlough.

Hello! Is anyone really listening to us?

There are some stark reminders of all this courtesy of a report produced by workforce management firm Quinyx following a worldwide survey of 11,000 frontline workers, including those in hospitality. Quinyx are also highlighting that there’s still a disparity in pay, promotion opportunities and outlook for female workers, in the UK and elsewhere.

In recent issues we’ve covered how executive housekeepers are bending the ears of senior management, making the most of the power and additional respect gained by their teams during the pandemic.

We’ve also told how the best are tackling potential staffing pinch-points, often by an extraordinarily flexible approach to shift patterns which help housekeepers to achieve a reasonable work life balance. Too many still dread approaching a boss to try to arrange a shift swap for personal reasons, which they expect to be viewed negatively.

And there’s still more to be done. Half of the surveyed deskless workers indicated they’ve noticed understaffing issues, especially when employees need to cover for missing staff, often with no extra pay. On the right you’ll see some UK stats from the survey and the high number of female hospitality staff who have considered quitting their job makes stark reading.

Quinyx’s annual State of the Deskless Workforce report found that female frontline workers still fare worse on numerous aspects of employee experience. Overall satisfaction with their work environment, how comfortable they are speaking to managers on issues such as pay and taking time off, and whether they’ve gone to work sick because they were not afforded time off, are some of the most common concerns.

Their chief human resources officer Toma Pagojute believes 2022 presents a unique opportunity for companies to “redress the balance and get frontline employee engagement and well-being right for everyone.” More flexibility, managers really getting to know staff, making the most of technology to support them, rewarding great performance and loyalty and prioritising frontline workers all made her best practice ‘to do’ list.

Pagojute says: “After the upheaval and uncertainty of the last two years, it’s time to move forward. We have a unique window now to reset and create a sea of change that can empower all workers, particularly women, who continue to feel the effects of long-term inequalities. There’s a lot to address, but if organisations put people at the forefront of business strategy and operations, and managers lead by example by considering employee engagement at every step, then changes will start to become ingrained.”

This is what the survey found from UK responses:

  • 27 per cent of female workers are comfortable discussing pay rises or wage disparities with their managers (compared to 40 per cent of male workers)
  • 46 per cent of female employees don’t believe there are a lot of job opportunities open to them based on their skills (compared to 36 per cent of male workers).
  • 63 per cent of female employees have considered quitting because they’re unhappy with their work environment (51 per cent of male employees). This rises to 71 per cent of female hospitality workers.
  • Women are more likely to feel pressured by co-workers into taking shifts they don’t want to take (45 per cent female / 33 per cent male).
  • 60 per cent of female workers have been to work sick because they couldn’t afford to take time off (49 per cent of male workers).
  • Just 25 per cent of female workers say their manager has shared specific steps towards promotion, and 18 per cent say their manager has identified a mentor for them (30 per cent and 25 per cent for male workers).
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