Quality of work life of front office employees in selected accommodation establishments
The South African hospitality industry, and more specifically the accommodation sector, is a booming industry within South African Tourism. Annually thousands of tourists, nationally and internationally, come to stay in accommodation establishments which offer a variety of services to guests (South Africa, 2009:499). What differentiates one accommodation establishment from another is the type and quality of service offered to guests. This service offered to guests can only be generated by manual labour, namely by employees. Front Office Employees in particular have direct and continual interaction with guests; Front Office Employees deliver the services required by guests and ultimately determine the satisfaction experienced by guests. A well–known saying goes "Happy workers make happy customers". The core of this saying is therefore that Front Office Employees, who experience a Quality of Work Life, will ultimately deliver exceptional service and lead the accommodation establishment to be more productive and more profitable. Quality of Work Life comprises a variety of life domains which need to be satisfied and fulfilled to result in an employer being happy. These life domains include Health and safety, Economic and family issues, Social issues, Esteem issues, Actualisation issues, Knowledge issues, Creativity and aesthetic issues, Feelings about the establishment, Management and Leisure issues. Satisfaction with these various life domains will therefore lead to a good Quality of Work Life and overall good Quality of Life being experienced. However, few studies have been conducted on the Quality of Work Life experienced within accommodation establishments and more specifically that of Front Office Employees. When employees experience a good Quality of Work Life, the accommodation establishment can expect various long–term advantages, such as higher employee productivity, lower turnover and absenteeism, increased loyalty and commitment towards the establishment and increased overall profitability. Hence in order to ensure accommodation establishments deliver excellent quality service to their guests and fulfil their needs entirely, it is essential to better understand the Front Office Employees who directly deal with the guests. This understanding can be gained by obtaining a clearer understanding of how Front Office Employees experience Quality of Work Life and the various life domains they are not satisfied with. By developing an in–depth knowledge of the Front Office Employee and how satisfied they are with their Quality of Work Life, greater satisfaction can be ensured, which will ultimately lead to the accommodation establishment being more productive and more profitable. The main goal of this study was to determine whether Front Office Employees are satisfied with their overall Quality of Work Life. In order to achieve this goal, the study comprises two articles. The research underpinning both of the articles was conducted at a specific South African resort group in June 2009 and a specific hotel group of South Africa in March 2010. A self–administrated questionnaire was distributed to the various units, according to an availability sampling method which focuses on respondents available and willing to fill in the questionnaire. A total of two hundred and ninety two (292) questionnaires were completed during the survey. From these questionnaires, data were obtained and results analysed. The first article was titled "Quality of Work Life: a comparative study of a resort group and hotel group Front Office Employees". The main purpose of this article was to determine whether Front Office Employees in the hotel group experience the same degree of Quality of Work Life as the resort group Front Office Employees. This article highlighted the importance of Front Office Employees, since they are the first and continual contact guests have with an accommodation establishment. These Front Office Employees therefore determine the type of service experienced by guests and the satisfaction they derive from it. In order for Front Office Employees to deliver quality service, the Front Office Employees should experience a Quality of Work Life. To achieve the objectives of this article, a Confirmatory Factor Analysis was first done to confirm the various life domains of Quality of Work Life as well as the various mean readings for each life domain. In addition to this, an independent t–test was performed to compare the Front Office Employees of the hotel group, with the resort group Front Office Employees with regard to how they experience their Quality of Work Life. The practical significance of the various life domains was determined in practice, by looking at the Cohen d–value. By means of the Confirmatory Factor Analysis it was determined that each life domain consisted of certain factors, ultimately leading to the concept of Quality of Work Life. With the comparison drawn between the hotel group Front Office Employees and the resort group Front Office Employees can it be accepted that the hotel group Front Office Employees are more satisfied with their Quality of Work Life than is the case with the resort group Front Office Employees. The life domains identified as having a practical visible difference effect in practice were determined. These results can therefore be utilized by human resource managers in accommodation establishments as areas on which to focus in order to improve the Quality of Work Life offered to Front Office Employees and thus the quality of service rendered to guests, which would then inevitably have an impact on the profitability of the establishment. The second article was titled "The effect of leisure life of hotel group Front Office Employees on their Quality of Work Life." The main purpose of this article was to determine the overall effect of leisure life, which is classified as one of the life domains of Quality of Work Life, on the various other life domains of Quality of Work Life. The life domain Leisure life had two factors which were identified by a confirmatory factor analysis. Once the factors had been confirmed, the relationship between Leisure life and the various other life domains were determined. The results of this research revealed that there is a relationship between leisure life and the other various life domains constituting Quality of Work Life. Hence the results are imperative for human resource managers of accommodation establishments, as the importance of leisure in Front Office Employees' lives as well as the various other life domains on which it has an impact have been indicated. Overall, the research revealed that Front Office Employees of the hotel group are more satisfied with their Quality of Work Life than is the case with the Front Office Employees of the resort group. Furthermore, the importance of Front Office Employees' leisure life was indicated by the relationship it has with the various other life domains, ultimately leading to a Quality of Work Life. This newly obtained knowledge of Front Office Employees of accommodation establishments can be applied by human resource managers in an effort to ensure that these employees experience a good Quality of Work Life which will lead the accommodation establishment to be more productive, efficient and profitable due to happier employees.