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Missing in action: nobody wants to be on the lay-off list

Phuket Lessons in How to Treat Resort Staff

Thursday, July 9, 2009
PHUKET'S EVASON RESORT came through the difficult procedure of laying off staff with its reputation unblemished.

Late last month, 68 staff were asked to leave. The management mulled carefully the names of those who should be asked to go.

When the time came, the Evason acted with speed and gave all those who were being dismissed their full entitlements, including an extra sum because there was no notice.

Both sides, the workers and the resort management, subsequently visited the Governor, Wicha Praisa-nob. He found no fault with what had transpired.

The single awkwardness lies in the manner of dismissal. Nobody likes to be told that they are being sacked on the spot, especially if they have worked at a place for a number of years.

The presence of police and the taking of video makes the process even more demeaning. Yet these are precautions that managements these days feel obliged to take.

Some island bosses have bad reputations, high turnovers and poor relationships with their staff. But major resorts mostly seem to escape those kinds of morale problems, through adequate communication.

At present, though, it would be unwise for any resort management to consider layoffs, at least until after the Asean summit has concluded.

The Governor has gone to great lengths since April to try to obliterate the prospect of street blockades or anything that would convey the wrong impression internationally about Phuket.

Anyone who has been concentrating on ways of reducing costs and decides to sack staff between now and the conclusion of the Asean summits on July 24 may not earn much sympathy.

The fact is, just about everybody is doing it hard.

We hear that some resorts have cut staff pay and retained working hours. This is probably not the wisest course.

Others, including Laguna Phuket, where the Asean meetings are centred, have opted to reduce working days and pay, for all staff from general managers on down.

At the top level, managers are taking six extra days off each month. There's a scale for other employees that operates on down to three days a month.

Interestingly, this is to remain in place even during the Asean summit. Laguna Phuket has offered English lessons and other skills-training to fill that downtime.

For resort workers, with fewer guests making fewer demands, the workload has remained consistent.

But for others at resorts whose workloads remain the same all year long, adapting to having less time to do it has required ''working smarter.''

Some people actually prefer to have more time to enjoy the delights of living and working in a region with so much to offer.

Others would undoubtedly prefer to have the money coming in as normal.

While voluntary time off has proved a popular way of dealing with the extra low low season, resorts that always preferred to run lean and mean on fewer staff, but demand higher performance for higher pay, appear to be doing ok for now.

The next few months will throw challenges at both workers and managements at Phuket resorts, and in other businesses, too.

Given the present degree of difficulty, it is to be hoped that more innovative and admirable outcomes can be achieved.

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Comments

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'Reputation unblemished', you need to take the un off the word unblemished - having police present and videoing the process is demeaning, as you point out.

Posted by Anonymous on July 13, 2009 13:12


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