Achieving harmony in the workplace
Achieving harmony within the workplace is at the top of the list of important concerns within the hospitality industry. Creating a harmonious work environment between individuals, between management and employees, and between employers and employees presents an exciting opportunity for personal development in the exciting environment of the foodservice and hospitality industries.
Hcareers interviewed several people in hotel and restaurant jobs, as well as employers, about what they see working when it comes to creating a work environment which sees everyone working together as a team. As the process showed, challenges are bound to arise when people work together, but these challenges only create the opportunity to achieve better communication.
The hiring process
Harmony within the workplace begins with the staff, and so the first place that most employers start creating that harmonious environment is at the interview. A good hire is the most important step in creating an environment focused on teamwork and building good interpersonal skills.
Kelly Shepherd, kitchen manager at Bottom's Restaurant, says that listening to the opinions of current employees about the interviewee is critical.
"We live in a smaller community, so often we will have people who know other members of our staff applying for jobs. This can work in their favor, or not. If a current and valuable staff member has had an issue in the past with a prospective employee, then obviously there are some red lights. If, on the other hand, current staff members have had the opportunity to interact positively with the interviewee before, then we are already a step ahead in the process."
Open door policy
The open door policy is probably the most tried and true method of maintaining workplace harmony, not only in the hospitality interviews we conducted but in other areas of the work force as well. This approach simply means that managers and employers make sure their staff knows that they are welcome to come to them with any potential challenges at any time, and that they will seek to overcome those challenges together.
When the open door policy is used as both a listening device and a method for finding solutions, the process is looked upon favorably by employees. Dirk, who works at The Keg, says that not only does the management at the restaurant listen to employee's concerns, they also encourage solution proposals.
"It's great, because it is not just a 'venting' situation. We have the opportunity to air our grievances, but attached to that is the responsibility of helping to create the solution. And when you see the solution put into effect, and that it works, everyone feels good."
By far one of the most innovative solutions we came across was a hotel interview with management of The Sandman Hotel. A challenge faced there was perhaps typical to the hospitality industry; one department would face a lot of heat over the perception that another department's job was not being completed.
"Our desk staff, of course, are the people who have the most interaction with our guests," manager Denise Chang clarified. "Guests who are not happy with the time the housekeeping staff comes around would not complain to the housekeeping staff, they would go to the desk. The desk, therefore, would feel the brunt of the negativity that arose from a challenge that they had no control over. It led to some interdepartmental tensions."
In order to help the staff better understand each other, Chang and the other managers came up with an innovative solution.
"Instead of trying to explain to each person how the jobs in the other department worked, we scheduled our employees for a short shift in the other departments. That way, our check-in personnel not only knew some of the constraints that housekeeping worked under, they also had a better idea of how to answer guest concerns. And of course, the same was true for the housekeeping staff in understanding how the check-in process was accomplished."
Employees at the hotel agree that the plan worked. Housekeeper Marit Igwe says that all of the staff achieved a greater appreciation for what other departments accomplished in order to keep the business running smoothly.
A similar situation was found during a restaurant interview, where employees at Boston Pizza go through a promotional process. Jake Malhoun currently works as the main food prep, but began as a dishwasher.
"In order to advance, you have to have an appreciation for all the jobs that your work is going to affect. Starting out in the scullery definitely makes you more aware of the importance of organization. Moving to a cook position helps you to understand what it feels like when a certain item runs low or runs out during a peak time. You can definitely do a better job if you understand the jobs around you."
Expanding personal communication skills, encouraging staff to work with ownership to overcome challenges, and assisting employees to identify with each other are some great ways to achieve harmony within the workplace. This atmosphere will not only help to create a better work environment, but within the hospitality and foodservice industries it will be reflected in the atmosphere experienced by guests. Implementing some easy strategies to create a harmonious environment will always be reflected on the bottom line.