Principles of customer service

AC 2.1 - Describe needs of different types of customer

Employing people from different cultures

Many tourism organisations in the UK understand the benefits of employing people from different cultures.  These benefits are outlined in the article below written by a tourism researcher. You can also read the article by downloading the document.

The benefits of cultural diversity in hospitality and tourism organisations

The UK EU referendum debate is rapidly heating up, and at this point, it is fair to say it is entirely possible that the UK could exit the EU. If the ‘Brexit’ goes ahead, the UK hospitality industry may find it challenging to recruit staff and managers from other European countries.

Considering that the top inbound tourism markets for the UK are France (12%) and Germany (9%), followed by the USA (9%), Irish Republic (9%), and Spain (6%), potential difficulties to retain or recruit European staff with language skills and cultural understanding may mean British staff and managers will have to develop good intercultural skills in order to cater to the future international tourism market.

However, statistics show that 26% of the hospitality workforce in the UK are migrant workers and 6% of the migrant population in the country enter employment within the hospitality industry. This means even if the UK does not exit the EU, managers and staff within the hospitality industry should still maintain a good understanding of cultural diversity.  Service skills are not just about meeting the needs of international travellers; building and appropriately managing diversity in the workforce would bring a range of benefits to any workplace.

  • Employment of ‘best’ candidate: Attracting talent from the broadest range of people available will have an impact on organisations not only in terms of the quality of their workforce, but also in terms of cost effectiveness, particularly with regard to training time required.
  • Positive organisational culture: When managed successfully, cultural diversity may enable employees’ full potential to be realised – in turn resulting in employees feeling valued, motivated and developed. This higher level of psychological engagement increases performance and establishes a more responsive, adaptable environment.
  • Retaining talent: Organisations that manage their diversity effectively can improve their retention rates for different groups of people thanks to a positive organisational culture that makes employees reluctant to leave, thus reducing turnover and absenteeism costs. This may be particularly important in the service sector where high employee turnover is a norm.
  • Flexible working arrangements: The nature of the hospitality business means flexibility is unavoidable due to long opening hours and seasonality. In addition, as the workforce becomes increasingly diverse there has been greater pressure on organisations to respond by being more flexible in all their processes, systems and procedures, and not only in their working hours.  Therefore, many service organisations inevitably acquire organisational flexibilities in terms of working arrangement, such as holiday, employee benefits, and terms and conditions of employment.
  • Improved customer service: Through effectively managing diversity organisations may well improve their customer service. By developing employees’ abilities to communicate across cultures and understand the characteristics of a diverse customer base, organisations gain a competitive advantage over those who do not. It is claimed that having an organisation in which the workforce mirrors the marketplace is an asset in anticipating and servicing customer needs and demands.     
  • Improved team effectiveness: It is suggested that successful diversity management will lead to improved creativity, innovation, problem solving and decision making. Research shows that heterogeneous workgroups outperformed the homogeneous groups. However, this team effectiveness depends on various other factors such as nature of the task, ability of team members, personality of team members, or urgency of the task.

It is obvious, probably from your own experience, that cultural diversity within a workforce does not automatically generate these benefits. Managers need to ensure that they have a strategic approach to managing diversity and not all benefits can be achieved at once, i.e. some have to be achieved in order for the others to happen.

Activity (Offline)

Read and discuss the article to understand the points being made.  When you have done this, create a PowerPoint of about 10 slides to present to a group of employers about the benefits of employing people from different cultures.