Friday, September 18, 2009

Outsourced! (The Hyatt Way...)

Thanks to the recession, the Hyatt hotels in Boston have experienced a significant drop in revenues - 21 percent. The corporation's response to such challenging times?

According to this story, they fired their housekeeping staff - approximately 100 people.

In their place, Hyatt brought in 100 housekeepers who agreed to work for half ($8.00/hour vs. $15/hour) of what the fired employees had gotten. And no benefits.

The fired workers had been getting health insurance through Hyatt.

Here's how Hyatt characterized the move:

"'As part of an ongoing drive to address challenging economic conditions, the Hyatt hotels of Boston have restructured their housekeeping services,’ according to a statement from the hotel. 'Regrettably, the restructuring included staff reductions.'"

Bringing in employees to replace the ones you've fired is not a "staff reduction." It's a transformation of the workplace. It's letting go of people, some of whom devoted two decades to the company, and replacing them with low-wage, no-benny workers who will barely be able to scrape by on the salary they earn in this job.

According to the news story, the Hyatt experience is "uncommon" in the industry:

"Other hotels have taken a different approach to riding out the recession. Earlier this year the Liberty Hotel ended its contract with the company that provided its security and night janitorial service and replaced them with hotel workers from other departments who might have otherwise been laid off. “We would not [outsource housekeepers] because we want to tightly control the guest experience here and the cleanliness,’’ said managing director Jim Treadway.

Representatives from the Hilton and Marriott hotel chains said they have not outsourced their housekeepers and have no plans to do so."

Just this week, BusinessWeek included Hyatt on its list of "Best Places to Launch a Career."

Not if you're a housekeeper at Hyatt, obviously. But that's just a job. Not a career. So who cares? We'll see if such innovation in HR is contagious....

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