Job Satisfaction in the Hotel Industry: How Significant are Employees' Age and Educational Level



As more college degree holders flood the job market, others are returning to college to advance their current job position or to pursue a career change. These college graduates vary in age and are pursuing a career within the hotel industry. Unfortunately, the hotel industry exhibits a high rate of employee turnover and within six years of their graduation, about 70% of all graduates resign from their jobs in the hotel industry. In the last eight years, the annual employee turnover rate in the hotel industry in the US is 15% (average) higher as compared to the entire private sector. Considering the heavy costs involved in selection, recruitment and training of new employees, hotels should rather try to keep their existing ones by ensuring their job satisfaction. Some previous studies have claimed that with rising numbers of Generation Y having good education entering and baby boomers retiring from the hotel industry workforce, hotels are finding it difficult to keep their employees satisfied. Being part of the College of Hospitality and Tourism Leadership at the University of South Florida Sarasota Manatee, we tested this argument by working together on a project to determine the satisfaction of hotel employees of all ages who committed themselves in achieving higher education. A total of 197 hotel employees over the age of 18 with various education levels were surveyed, where 42.1% of the employees had a bachelor’s degree and 82.2% of the participants were 18 to 39 years old. Contrary to what many claim, the differences in employees’ job dissatisfaction have less to do with age and educational levels and more to do with job-related issues such as prestige of the job, recognition, remuneration, possibilities of promotion and task autonomy/empowerment. Specific exploration of the data indicated that for employees aged between 18-39 years and having either an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree, the top job satisfiers include (1) relationship with colleagues, (2) usefulness of the work, (3) professional development and (4) health care, while job dissatisfiers include (1) relationship with supervisors, (2) prestige of the profession, (3) recognition and (4) remuneration. Nonetheless, it needs to be understood that elimination of dissatisfiers does not guarantee employees’ job satisfaction. Rather, hotels must investigate the environmental factors of employee satisfaction and dissatisfaction separately and try to eliminate the dissatisfiers and retain and enhance the satisfiers to retain their employees. A simpler and easier way for hotels to start would be to periodically distribute anonymous surveys and get feedback from their employees. Treat their feedback the way you treat your customers’ feedback. Use every opportunity to ensure that employees’ feedback is well-received and acted upon, since that is the most influential in driving satisfaction and retention and this is where hotels can get it right.

Dr. Faizan Ali is an assistant professor in the College of Hospitality and Tourism Leadership at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. Dr. Ali’s research interests are in the areas of hospitality and tourism industry, service performance and quality, customer satisfaction and behavior. He has authored more than 60 research articles published in academic journals and has presented at numerous international conferences. Clarissa Stafford graduated with a master’s in hospitality management from the College of Hospitality and Tourism Leadership at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee in May of 2017. She has over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry, accounting and human resources.

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