A new tourism and hospitality accord

21 Mar, 2023
A new tourism and hospitality accord

There is hope that working conditions in tourism and hospitality are set to improve, thanks in part to research by AUT.

The survey He Tangata was commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and has informed the Government's Better Work Action Plan, released this month.

Along with other initiatives, the plan will establish a new Tourism and Hospitality Accord where businesses sign up to a set of workforce standards to become an endorsed good employer.

The initiative aims to lift employment standards and attract people into the industry.

Senior Lecturer David Williamson is co-author of the He Tangata research and says the Government's plan is a step in the right direction, setting out realistic goals for addressing the pressing concerns around pay and conditions in the sector.

"What we have been looking for for a long time is a way for good employers who are doing the right things and looking after their staff to be rewarded. This accord will give customers the ability to support the good employers by spending money in those businesses," he says

"This is a first in terms of tri-partite acknowledgement of the problems and the creation of concrete solutions."

The He Tangata survey of more than 900 people in tourism and hospitality provided better data on working conditions in the industry, for those on the frontline as well as for managers.

It built on previous research,Voices From The Front Line, which highlighted similar employment problems but looked only at frontline workers in hospitality.

He Tangata found that 59 per cent of staff were either planning to leave their jobs within a year or were unsure if they would stay. Of those planning to leave, about a third wanted out of the industry altogether.

“It is particularly worrying that senior staff want out at a similarly high rate to frontline staff,” Dr Williamson says.

“The main reason people gave for wanting to leave the sector was that the workplace had bad conditions, stress or was a toxic environment. This was followed by bad pay and conditions and then by wanting a better work-life balance.”

He Tangata also found that workers got into hospitality and tourism in the first place because they wanted to work with people – but that this wasn’t the only reason.

“We often talk about the casual nature of work as a negative, but for a significant number of employees this freedom and flexibility is a positive.

“It is also worth pointing out that our research found that 52% of workers have had careers of six years or more in the industry, which looks poised to begin its return to be a major contributor to the New Zealand economy.

“I worked in hospitality for 20 years and loved it. There are good careers to be had, with a lot of people who are very passionate.”

The Better Work Action Plan is a partnership between government, unions, industry and Māori and is the first phase of the Government’s wider Tourism Industry Transformation Plan.