Housekeepers in Hotels

With increasing globalisation, career opportunities in this field are not only limited within the country but there are chains of hotels which operate internationally providing scope of a career abroad.The current employment across the hotels in India is estimated to be about 7,50,000 and the forecasted employment in hospitality sector by 2020 is estimated to be 35 lakhs (India Today, August 2, 2009). With the Commonwealth Games coming up and increasing tourism in India, the sector is going to grow further giving rise to more employment opportunities. Such developments in the hotel industry have led to an overwhelming demand for trained human resources, especially the Housekeeping staff. Housekeeping, often the largest department in hotels, deals with cleanliness and services attached to it.

Job Profile: Gone are those days when housekeeping was all about cleaning the rooms. Nowadays, everything from maintenance of the rooms and public spaces to the arrangement of flowers, horticulture and the upkeep of gardens and laundry services falls within the ambit of housekeeping. Good housekeeping is critical for guest satisfaction and hotel profitability.

Housekeepers may be assigned specialized cleaning duties such as cleaning towels, linen, bedding, bathrooms, work spaces, emptying wastebaskets, shining mirrors, vacuuming, mopping, replenishing amenities for bathroom, replacing clean towels, changing the beds with clean linens and reporting any damaged or missing items.

The housekeeping job does not always pay at a high rate, although guests may leave tips for the staff based on the promptness and quality of service. Hence, it is very important that the housekeeper is a highly motivated person and loves what he/she is doing.  

Working conditions: Housekeepers typically work forty to forty-eight hours each week. They may rotate from a morning to an evening or night shift and are expected to take their share of weekends and holidays. Modern hotels have the best cleaning equipment for housekeepers to use; however, the work is demanding. Housekeepers must bend, stoop, climb, and reach to clean in corners and inside closets. Moving heavy equipment and furniture can be exhausting.

Skills required: A caring attitude, friendly nature, willingness to serve and high adaptability are the criterion for getting selected as a housekeeping staff.  They should also have high standards of personal hygiene.

Since housekeeping work is a physically demanding job and includes varied tasks, a certain amount of physical fitness is required from a hotel housekeeper. Housekeepers must be able to work quickly and efficiently and should have a neat and pleasant appearance. As the staff has to interact with the guests on a daily basis, it is very important that all housekeeping staff have good communication skills and have a good understanding of consumer behaviour and different cultures.   

One must be an extrovert, co-operative, polite and respectful to the guests, have patience to deal guest criticism even when you know you are right, willing to work hard even at odd hours and yet be cheerful.

Career progression: Housekeepers who have gained experience working in small hotels can apply to luxury hotels that pay higher wages. Housekeepers in a large hotel or resort may be promoted to the position of executive housekeeper; however, since there is only one executive housekeeper in each hotel, advancement possibilities are quite limited. Budgeting, inventory control, and staff selection are among the duties of executive housekeepers. Usually years of experience, a one-year internship, and/or college courses in institutional management, business administration, or hotel services are needed to advance to the executive position.

Education and training requirements: A formal education is not required to become a housekeeper, although employers prefer to hire people who have a high school education. Entry requirements for housekeeping staff may start from a class XII certification. However, for higher positions a hotel management degree is a must. Most of the hotels also provide on-the-job training to sharpen their skills.

One can enter this field by direct entry or through hotel management institutes. For direct entry the vacancies are generally advertised in the newspapers and the minimum prescribed qualification is graduation with 50% marks.


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