Making the Most of Your Labor Force

In 2015, the number of hours hotel employees worked grew at a faster pace than the number of occupied rooms. 

Enhance Productivity

In order to contain costs, turn your attention to productivity. Empower your team to work smarter. Here are some ideas to consider.

Strategize Housekeeping

Streamline housekeeping visits by targeting unoccupied rooms. What’s a quick way to identify unoccupied rooms?  If you equip housekeeping staff with mobile devices that are connected to an Energy Management System, they can plan their room visits based on real-time occupancy status. They’ll also be aware when guests check out if the EMS interfaces with your property management system.

Housekeeping Checklists

Create checklists for your housekeeping staff. Laminate the checklists and include them on every cleaning cart.

There is a prominent surgeon at Harvard Medical school, Atul Gawande,  who actually wrote an entire book about the importance of checklists. He discusses “pause points” , those moments when you can stop and identify a problem before it becomes big.  Implement the use of checklists during these “pause points”.

Perhaps there can one checklist for rooms where guests have checked out, and others for rooms that are still “sold”. What about specific checklists for each room style (suite, king single, etc.)?

Multi-lingual Checklists

Supply your checklists in other languages so everyone has access to the same information. And in terms of graphics, we all speak the same language, so perhaps nix the words and go with illustrations only?


People learn more deeply from words and pictures than from words alone (

How about room illustrations showing items such as coffee pots and mini fridges-amenities that need to be cleaned but can be easily overlooked. A quick glance at the graphic serves as a checklist of sorts.

Make it easy for housekeeping to make note of maintenance issues. Perhaps a quick form they can complete that lists room number and boxes they can check for such fixes as ‘Lightbulb Out’ or ‘Leaky Faucet’. Quick and dirty, or in this case, not so dirty.


Arrange the contents of housekeeping carts in a logical layout and set each one up the same way. Get input from your staff on how the items should be arranged. They do it every day; they’ll have efficiency tips to share too.

Clean from Top to Bottom

Jeff Campbell and his “Clean Team” wrote a book years ago that is still in print. (He also has a website In the book, he describes the most efficient ways to clean. He’s got practical time saving tips like:

  • always clean from top to bottom
  • only go over an area once
  • have the supplies you’ll need at the ready so there are no wasted steps walking back and forth to, for example, throw away garbage and have a temporary receptacle for it closeby.


Check out energy management systems: automation that centers around smart thermostats with network capability. An EMS most certainly saves energy, and that’s reason enough to learn more about them. But they also enhance staff productivity in a number of ways:

Automated Temperature Setback

Stop sending staff to your unsold rooms in order to manually set back room temperature. An EMS automates this process. If your smart thermostat detects no occupancy, the temperature automatically adjusts. Furthermore, if your EMS interfaces with your property management system, you can configure even more aggressive temperature setbacks if the room is not just unoccupied, but unsold.

HVAC Units Requiring Attention

Identify overworked HVAC units using your EMS. Your EMS can identify which units are overworked. This could mean HVAC filters need to be changed, or HVACs need to be switched out with others that aren’t working as hard, thereby extending the life of the units. Identifying these issues goes a long way to proactively scheduling maintenance on only those units needing it.

Low Battery Alerts

Send your facilities staff to change batteries only on those thermostats with low battery power. There is no need to send your maintenance staff to every room to change out batteries whether they need it or not.

Speedy Removal of Dirty Trays from Hallways

Have you heard? If you install tray trackers on your room service trays, your kitchen knows when dirty trays have been placed in the hallway and can collect them more efficiently.

To make the most of your labor force, take a closer look at energy management systems (which are not the same as Building Management Systems.) By allowing technology to work for you, you’ll streamline processes and save energy. That will go a long way to balancing number of hours your staff works and number of rooms sold.