The hospitality industry has seen its fair share of upheaval in the last couple of years, starting with lockdowns and continuing into the “new normal” of life during a persistent pandemic. Even before COVID-19 hit, the hospitality industry expected a lot from their workers. Employees constantly have to keep a polite face while dealing with a general public who isn’t always at their best while still handling all of the ins and outs of their jobs. Including recent events and all the obstacles experienced in our industry, it’s easy to see why even the best in the business are having a hard time staying focused and motivated every day. Follow these tips on how to keep going when you feel like giving up.
What Prevents Hospitality Pros From Feeling Focused and Motivated?
The hospitality industry is uniquely exposed to issues that create a sense of directionlessness among its professionals. Understanding these issues, along with why and how they may impact you, will help you recognize and mitigate the effects as much as possible.
As a direct result of the ongoing pandemic, almost every industry has suffered staffing issues. The hospitality industry continues to see its fair share of staffing shortages, creating logistical nightmares that leave heavy burdens on everyone’s shoulders. A high turnover rate combines with a lack of qualified applicants to generate tension from the top down. For some hospitality niches, like restaurants or spas, such shortages mean closing operations down completely. It would, of course, be impossible for hotels and similar businesses to do the same. Instead, available staff might be stretched thin and overworked, making teams feel less focused and ready to handle the demanding job at hand.
Management and Customer Expectations
It’s easy to feel like giving up when confronted with constantly changing and competing expectations from various stakeholders. From corporate management teams to the customers you interface with daily, expectations are bound to fluctuate. Often, it seems like established policies can change instantly when management expects more from their staff, especially in circumstances where there are not enough human resources to go around. Customer expectations are also an omnipresent challenge, as many customers demand more from hospitality staff. Some customers even act unpleasant or disrespectful because of other issues and challenges they experienced. Facing fluctuating expectations from both management and customers, it’s easy to feel unfocused.
Booking Challenges and Seasonal Peaks
After almost two years into the pandemic, some people are ready to get out and have a vacation or go on business trips. Others, meanwhile, still want to stay relatively close to home. For an already overworked and understaffed company, seasonal peaks and valleys (from the pandemic or elsewhere) add additional pressure. Altogether, seasonal changes can leave you high-strung and burnt out.
Safety and Security Challenges
Pre-pandemic, the hospitality industry already had its fair share of safety and security challenges regarding threats of violence against staff and guests. Beyond these issues came other challenges more specific to the hospitality industry, such as sex trafficking. When it comes to these types of threats, you have to be aware of your surroundings for both yourself and your guests. Hearing news stories about violence perpetrated against a hotel, spa, and other hospitality business staff can make it hard to focus on regular daily duties. Even a feel-good story about how a vigilant restaurant worker or hotel clerk who noticed the signs of something wrong in a situation can up tensions; you don’t want to be that person who missed the signs of a troubling situation. All of these concerns can escalate your anxiety and stress levels.
Strategies on How to Stay Focused and Motivated At Work
Considering all of the stressors and challenges that exist within the hospitality industry, it’s clear why employees struggle to stay focused and motivated while at work. Below are various strategies to channel a better experience at work, from blocking out distractions and setting goals to improving your focus and keeping your mind from wandering.
- Take advantage of breaks and lunches. It may feel like you need to work through your break or lunch to catch up with all the work that’s piling up, especially when you are short-staffed. While you’ll get work done, ignoring breaks can make everything feel overwhelming. Taking a break will help give you a moment to find calm. When you neglect to eat, stay hydrated, or take a moment to breathe, you become unfocused and your work takes longer. That moment to recharge might be precisely what you need to gain your motivation back.
- Create a support system among your co-workers. It’s important to remember that many of your coworkers face the same hardships and issues you do. Being supportive of one another, especially when one person has a more challenging day than others, can help. You may also find that having someone you can vent to will make a difference in how you feel during the day. Your co-workers understand what you’re going through because they experience the same things. Hearing that they are having a hard time can help you see that you’re not alone. If you feel like your workplace needs a better support system, bring up your concern to human resources or management.
- Make a roadmap for your future. An uncertainty about your future can spur uncertainty and a lack of focus at work. Help create a vision for what you want to happen in a year, in five years, and beyond. Looking at this roadmap can keep you motivated about what you want to achieve during your hospitality career. Additionally, visualizing where you want to be in the future can help you handle management’s changing expectations.
- Find opportunities to do what you’re passionate about at work. When you create your roadmap for your future in the industry, did you notice any tasks that seemed more appealing than others? Take advantage of what you have a passion for while working, and look for chances where you can do that task more often. Knowing that you can do something you want to do can help you get through more mundane tasks throughout the workday. You may even find that you can more easily talk to management about your passion for these particular work tasks.
- Make time in your schedule for you. When it feels like scheduling, call-offs, and staffing is stretched too thin, make sure t you take time for yourself when you’re off the clock. Packing too much into your personal schedule while off the clock can make it even harder for you when it’s time to clock back in. See a new movie, check out that new yoga class, go out for a meal with friends, or do other activities that you enjoy. Then, when it’s time to go back to work, you’ll feel recharged, leading to better focus.
It’s normal for hospitality professionals to struggle with motivation throughout the entire day. Even within one shift, a lot of challenges can be thrown your way, especially among staffing shortages where you have to cover several people’s duties. Even an uneventful day can turn unfocused when you haven’t devoted enough time to self-care outside of work. Remember that everyone needs different accommodations to find the strength to stay motivated in the hospitality industry. By following these strategies, you can discover which works the best for you when getting back into a ready-to-work state of mind.