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Hospitality Managers Want Challenge, Respect, Work-Life Balance

January 19, 2005
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Managers value interesting work with decision-making authority more than they value external rewards such as compensation, according to a new study on retaining management talent by the Center for Hospitality Research at Cornell University.

The research center surveyed 2,800 graduates of Cornell’s hotel administration school. Authors Masako S. Taylor and Kate Walsh learned that "hospitality professionals are looking for challenging jobs that offer growth opportunities, competent leadership and fair compensation. Foremost among those factors is the chance to gain career growth through increasingly challenging assignments."

According to Taylor and Walsh, "While a substantial number of respondents were motivated by external factors, such as compensation, most of the respondents find the greatest motivation from the internal aspects of the job, including the opportunity for personal and career growth and the chance to make a contribution to the organization. To the degree that those desired job features are in place, hospitality managers’ commitment levels will rise. Managers’ commitment to performing challenging work especially reduces their likelihood of leaving their companies and the industry."

Some sample quotes from managers surveyed by Cornell:

  • On what they want from their careers: "Continuous opportunities for advancement, ability to retire at a reasonable time in my life, always learning something."

  • On what they want from their companies: "An environment that fosters growth, teamwork and an emphasis on staff retention and training rather than staff burnout and rehiring. Appropriate compensation. Strong policies and support for difficult decisions made in accordance with those policies."

  • On what they want from their jobs: "To be challenged; to learn and progress; increased responsibility, and with that, increased compensation. To have a strong foundation in what I do and always take that with me going forward."

  • On what they want from their industry: "To challenge me to continue learning, be more creative, find new solutions, and present growth opportunities along the way."

The Cornell study finds that some recent graduates feel forgotten in their jobs. They’ve been in the same positions much longer than promised and have been looking elsewhere for opportunities. In fact, during the four months that Cornell conducted two surveys, more than 20 percent of respondents had changed jobs.

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