3 Steps to Reduce Overtime in 2020 for Select Service Hotels - Amadeus Hospitality

3 Steps to Reduce Overtime in 2020 for Select Service Hotels

Kevin Brown

After over a decade of growth, RevPAR around the world is slowing down fast. And whenever RevPAR growth suffers, so does your budget. Many select service hoteliers start the year finding the best ways to cut down on labor costs, as they are already limited in resources and capabilities.

Historically, hoteliers have put freezes on hiring new positions and stopped backfilling open ones, as labor usually takes the lion’s share of expenses. However, historic global labor shortages and record-breaking turnover rates have made staffing levels unsustainable already. One of the most effective ways for select service hoteliers to save on labor without sacrificing staff positions is to reduce overtime hours.

Overtime is costly, stressful, and often preventable in select service operations. The right preparation paired up with the right data enables you to easily find out where you are spending the most money on overtime and quickly take action. Below we have included three steps that are vital to begin your labor management journey to save on overtime.

1. Document and measure your staff task workflows

Time is your most valuable resource and your most expensive commodity for reducing overtime. By prioritizing usage of time, you easily can understand how to cut down on unnecessary uses of it.

Conduct motion studies

To start, write down the most common daily tasks of your staff. Then outline every major action that takes place from the moment you identify the task to the moment it is completed. Once you have designed these workflows, conduct motion studies to see how long each action takes.

For example, a simple motion study of a fixing a burnt out light in a guest room may look like this:

Seeing every action like this helps you quickly understand where to focus on saving time. In the above example, resource gathering and travel take up the most time. What if there are not enough lightbulbs in constant stock and engineers have to hunt them down? By improving stock par levels, the engineers could easily get more work done.

As you go through this process, we provided some best practices for documenting your workflows through motion studies:

  • Focus first on the issues that cause the most guest service failures. They are where your teams spend not only the most time but also in service recovery costs.
  • It is important to think at scale when building these workflows. Start small, don’t rush, and build out from what you initially learn as you move through each department’s tasks.
  • Set KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to measure against once you have identified each task. Share those KPIs with every team member so they all know what they are responsible for, and utilize those KPIs to constructively train teams on how to improve.
  • Document each task digitally so you can easily measure against it later. Excel is an easy starting point. However, remember to use excel time formats to ensure easy calculations.

2. Feedback, Feedback, Feedback

Once you’ve conducted your motion studies to understand usage of time for tasks, gather team feedback and find out where to improve.

  • Most importantly, make sure the environment you provide for feedback is constructive. Your staff will be more likely to give honest feedback on ways to improve.
  • Highlight the areas of time that seem most striking to you as a leader, and then ask your staff what they think and exactly what it takes to complete that part of their task. This will help you find common ground.
  • Spend some time in looking at the most impacted areas of friction once you have acquired feedback. This will help you uncover common denominators that keep your staff from doing their jobs easily. If you solve one of those problems, you will most likely remove other problems along the way.
  • Layout your top priority action items for improving friction points and share them with your teams. Remain consistent in providing updates to them regarding the progress of any improvement.

Feedback provides you a chance to find out what hinders your staff the most, but it also gives you the opportunity to allow them to share their perspectives and feel valued. To learn more about the impact feedback has on the staff experience, and how it can also reduce your turnover, check out our guide on improving staff culture.

3. Inspect what you expect

Now that you have begun to improve your task workflows, convert your motion studies into inspections. Dedicate some time as a leader each month to review the quality of your team improvements, and keep the cycle of feedback going. An example of a motion study evolving into an inspection is our housekeeping room checklist.


Improving your labor management practices to reduce overtime takes focus and significant effort if it’s done manually. Savvy hoteliers are leveraging Service Optimization technology to do the heavy lifting for them. If you are interested in learning how technology can quickly help your teams organize operations, improve efficiencies, and reduce overtime contact our Service Optimization team today for a demo!

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In partnership with global hospitality organizations HSMAI, IoH, and HOSPA, we developed a series of recovery eBooks to help hospitality professionals chart their course for recovery in the aftermath of COVID-19. Together, we conducted surveys and interviews with dozens of global industry experts and leveraged Amadeus’ internal expertise to compile specific, actionable ways to build and execute recovery plans across marketing, sales, revenue management, and operations.