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How to Effectively Manage Cultural Diversity at Workplace in Hospitality Industry

admin March 19, 2016

Continued globalization of hospitality industry and an increasing influx of migrant workers into the hospitality companies make it necessary to effectively manage cultural diversity at workplace in this industry. Below suggests some approaches that can help the companies to successfully manage the cultural differences.

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By cultural diversity, we mean a wide range of cultural differences between nations. With the growth of globalization, a larger number of companies are competing for not only domestic market but also global market. Globalization is a trend in hospitality industry, too. There have emerged more and more international hospitality companies. Along the continued globalization of hospitality industry, in the domestic market, more migrant workers get into the workforce. That’s why managing cultural diversity at workplace is becoming a big issue to most of employers in this industry. More companies are more sophisticated in managing cultural differences – for example, giving language training to overcome communication barriers, adopting corporate diversity programs, etc. Meanwhile, many companies in this industry still have difficulties in effectively managing cultural diversity. They face challenges and find difficult to overcome them. I will be listing up these challenges later in the post. Now comes an overview of benefits of cultural diversity.

Benefits of cultural diversity




•             Increase people interpersonal skills because people from different cultures when working together can easily understand others’ views.

•             Increase teamwork as a result of increased interpersonal skills.

•             Expand innovation and creativity. Indeed, employees of different backgrounds can help out a lot when it’s time to create new project. Also, it means different solutions to a common problem.

•             Have a large range of languages spoken. Thus, staffers can attract international guests while employees in the company can benefit from learning new language(s) and thereby expand their knowledge.

•             Grow company credibility because having people from various backgrounds can make the company more attractive to potential guests and future workers.

•           Increase productivity on the complex tasks. Indeed, a multicultural working environment leads to more effective implementation of the tasks with different people involvement. According to studies, teams with diverse skill sets and knowledge levels, as well as ethnicity and culture, would perform better than those with the same skill sets. 

Challenges of cultural diversity




•             Communication barriers

Different languages and cultural backgrounds increase the difficulty in communication between workers at workplace. And ineffective communication would result in confusion, lack of teamwork and low morale. For example, for migrant workers, communication difficulties can negatively impact their everyday life, which makes them unhappy with their current situation and hinders them from successfully adjusting to the host country and its culture.

•             Discrimination issues      

Direct and indirect discrimination among employees have been reported in companies with cultural diversity workforce. Not just employees but employers can involve in discrimination issue. For example, some employers just focus on hiring minority but don’t provide career progression for them. Discrimination issues can cause higher corporate costs, lower retention rate, affected working productivity.

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•             Training challenges

Language training and cross-culture-gap training is necessary to employees in hospitality industry. It helps them understand the benefits and requirements of cultural diversity, raise their knowledge and skills of dealing with people with different cultural backgrounds. Still, there is no single course that can sufficiently prepare employees for interaction with different cultures in the world. How to conduct the training while controlling the training costs is also a challenge to the hospitality companies. 

How to effectively manage cultural diversity




Though challenges exist, there are some approaches that can effectively help hospitality companies to manage cultural diversity.

To successfully manage your multicultural workforce, you should first be aware that majority and minority cultures don’t always share experiences. Also, the following strategies can help you break cultural barriers and enjoy advantages from cultural diversity. The strategies include:

•             Creating programs that improve awareness of cultural diversity

•             Improving positive attitudes towards cultural differences

•             Realizing the same points of view and relations among different ethnic groups

•             Being flexible in communication

•             Showing personal concerns and confusions when encountering cultural obstacles

•             Establishing cultural diversity committees

Aside from these strategies, other effective approaches to manage cultural diversity at workplace are:

•             Define organizational values and policies

Ensure you give proper answers to these questions before deciding fundamental policies and ethics of your organization: what the organization eventually aims at; what image you want to promote to apply effectively cultural diversity workforce in hospitality management; what kind of workforce you want in the future; what kind of workforce characteristics are vital for the performance.

•             Adopt employee relationship management system

To integrate workers from different cultures into the workplace, managers should create good relationship with them. Some programs can help develop the relationship – they are, language teaching, celebrating different religious or traditional holidays of employees, involving employees’ families into some company activities, etc. Indeed, creating such a family atmosphere helps increase retention. To successfully create such an atmosphere through programs, managers first should try to know personalities and background of their people. For example, managers can have conversations with employees during the down time or social events to understand more about them. Employees commonly like being listened and respected.

•             Develop a diversity management training program

Training program is another factor that ensures effective management of cultural diversity. Amid increased globalization of hospitality industry, diversity management training programs such as cross-cultural training can help overseas managers to learn about different cultures and help them develop skills of managing cultural diversity issues. That so doing can significantly decrease the potential costly failure due to cultural difference problems. Not only managers, diversity management training should be implemented in all levels in the hospitality industry.

•             Optimize cultural diversity training

The cultural diversity training involves understanding what it is, why it is important, understanding culture at all levels, from individual, national to organizational levels. Trainers need explain the behavioral influences of culture on the job and define the phenomena of stereotypes, assumptions, prejudice. Diversity training is intended for understanding, seeing things in new way, reflection and realization. As said above, diversity training should be applied both to employees and management and supervisors. To make the training more convenient, you can integrate diversity into already existing training. For instance, combining it into current supervisorial training.

Also, measurement and accountability are required in training. There can be assessments to draw employees’ attention on the topic. Assessments help reach learning intentions like knowledge increase, behavior and attitude change.

The skills and attributes of trainer need be suitable for the task. They have to be flexible, manage conflicts, and manage group dynamics. Also, diversity training can have multiple teaching methods – for example, role play, video, theatre, quiz, small group work. It is important to decide which method will help people learn.

•             Use language bank

Another effective tool is language bank. It is a program that workers are available to interpret different languages for other workers who need translators. The language bank helps better understanding and communication between workers with different languages. 

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