Professor Glenn McCartney takes a look at the issue of falling job satisfaction among retail staff at Macau’s integrated resorts and what can be done to address it.
Shopping, particularly within the retail malls located in Macau’s integrated resorts, is a popular activity for mainland Chinese when visiting the SAR. Retail is an important part of a casino development, so it might seem paradoxical to discover the volume of retail hospitality staff currently considering quitting their jobs due to employment cost-cutting measures across the hospitality industry via various employment reduction schemes and incentives.
It could be argued that it is during the upcoming recovery phase for the casino and hospitality industry that there will be a greater need than ever to retain and recruit qualified staff to deliver high levels of customer service.
It is only such quality service that will help vendors, many of which are luxury brands, achieve their sales and revenue goals in the coming years.
Given the losses suffered by Macau’s gaming industry, there is an urgency to recoup revenues and to recreate sales growth, and with diversification, to create greater revenue growth in non-gaming sectors such as retail. Staff turnover is disruptive, causing financial and operational challenges.c
In a recent study by myself, Charlene Lai and José Pinto titled “COVID-19 impact on hospitality retail employees’ turnover intentions” and published in the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, we found that several factors could influence retail employees’ job satisfaction and in turn the possibility of them leaving.
The questionnaire survey was conducted last year among 301 hospitality workers employed within retail outlets at integrated resorts on the Cotai Strip. To put this study and questions together, several past studies on hospitality staff retention were reviewed.
With the pandemic ongoing, there may be issues of perceived personal risk, anxiety and uncertainty as well as the individual’s mental well-being perhaps affecting behavioral intention to return to work. Many in hospitality are in frontline roles, with a constant visual reminder that the pandemic continues, including warning notices and mandates such as mask-wearing and health codes.
We specifically looked at the impact of co-worker relationships, workload, pay and company support on job satisfaction, and in turn the employee’s intention to leave their present position. There are various aspects within each of these factors.
With workload and pay, retail employee compensation can include commissions and sales incentives, which during the pandemic were often reduced. There can be other fringe benefits such as social gatherings or birthday celebrations, or even ensuring a fair work-shift rotation. All have been found in past studies to influence job satisfaction.
We found that workload and pay influenced job satisfaction, as did other employee benefits such as job matching, training, promotion and career prospects. Support from the retail company also influenced job satisfaction.
An important finding in this study was that co-worker relationships did not influence job satisfaction. Nevertheless, studies have shown that trust and relationships in the workforce are important, building towards job satisfaction.
During the pandemic, many have been confined to their homes or online platforms, with limited social interactions. A follow-up action could mean retail HRM prioritizing ways to re-engage interactions between co-workers. With the retail workforce back, actions to reestablish co-worker relationships become possible.
This study was a snapshot but showed issues of concern to address in retaining retail staff. It’s a study that could be replicated not only to track employee job satisfaction over time, but also across multiple hospitality sectors such as casino, accommodation, food and beverage, entertainment, events and recreation. It shapes as important data as part of the diversification analysis for Macau’s tourism industry into the development of non-gaming, given the importance of recruiting, training and retaining qualified talent in these roles.