Low staffing levels, pay cuts add to GM challenges
 
Low staffing levels, pay cuts add to GM challenges
23 OCTOBER 2020 9:01 AM

Data shows staffing levels at U.S. hotels dipped slightly to 52.2% of pre-COVID-19 levels this week.

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—After three weeks of job growth in October, U.S. hotel employment dropped slightly as regional COVID-19 surges occur, labor-management data from Hotel Effectiveness shows.

Across all chain scale segments, staffing levels dropped slightly, bringing the Hotel Labor Index to 52.2% of pre-COVID-19 staffing levels, the lowest since the start of October. For the week of 11 October, hotels in the sample were staffed at 52.4% of pre-COVID-19 levels.

Meanwhile, industry experts are starting to become concerned about the ongoing impact of trading conditions on GMs and other on-property leaders.

"Financial stress forced nearly a quarter of GMs to take a pay cut immediately after the pandemic began,” Mike Martin, CEO of Hotel Effectiveness said. “Now, six months later, one in five GMs are still earning less than they were in February despite an increased workload and fewer resources.”

Management hours per occupied room, a common labor productivity measure, remain 80% above normal levels as a result of several factors. GMs and assistant managers continue to cover shifts and perform front-line duties as staffing levels remain low. Uncertainty about future occupancy leaves many managers reluctant to commit to adding permanent staff, and strict budgets often leave no room for extra contractor labor or overtime.

“Temporary maintenance, housekeeping and laundry tasks have become an everyday part of the general manager work week in the COVID-19 era,” Martin said. “These added responsibilities may not be sustainable and could lead to future retention issues.”

Some management companies agree, with 12% of GMs receiving pay increases since February in recognition of their added workload. This investment, while difficult, may provide added operational stability as the industry continues to progress through this long recovery cycle.

The data and charts above represent a sample of more than 4,000 same-store hotels and excludes hotels that have been closed during the analyzed period.

Del Ross is Chief Revenue Officer for Hotel Effectiveness.

The assertions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Please feel free to comment or contact an editor with any questions or concerns.

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