Does the post-COVID era require a different skillset from housekeepers?
— 7 experts shared their view
The prominence of the housekeeping function has seen a revival in recent years. While its contribution was underappreciated for many decades, there has been a recent awakening to the department's significant impact on shaping the guest experience and the positive impact a well-managed team can have on the hotel's bottom line. Hotel schools now teach housekeeping management again, the hotel leaders are tuning in to the team and management talent is injected.
This renewed management attention results in metrics and KPIs playing a growing role while the introduction of technology pushes many traditional managers to their limits.
With COVID-19 evolving the daily cleaning effort into an increasingly complex project management endeavour, and responsibility and accountability increasing exponentially in the face of increased liability, is the traditional housekeeping expertise still relevant or does the new world order require a different skillset from housekeepers?
The sudden changes and swift momentum triggered by COVID-19 have placed many housekeepers outside of their comfort zone without advance warning. Just like other department heads, they suddenly found themselves having to deal with a situation they were not trained, nor prepared for.
The traditional skillset remains relevant and will continue to form the foundational core for the role. The increased complexity of managing cleaning operations with new variables like infrequent stayover cleans, idle periods for decontamination, and the extra accountability introduced by hygiene responsibilities with little room for error require tighter processes than ever before. Cost control advances in importance once again as the impact of additional cleaning costs need to be mitigated.
The sophistication is increasing and the standing of housekeepers within the management team has increased in recent years. As a long-time advocate for housekeeping, I am encouraged to see more management attention and talent injection. While high-end properties have senior team members in these positions, the other 3 quartiles of executive housekeepers globally are often lacking formal education and management training to prepare them for the increased sophistication of their roles. I hope that more management training and appreciation will be afforded to those that may be struggling and thus enable them to grow professionally.
Hotels are defined as establishments providing accommodation and the guardians of the rooms' product deserve all the training and tools to deliver hygienically clean rooms consistently and profitably.