Workplace flexibility and labour supply chains in hospitality : the role of employment agencies
This thesis is about labour flexibility in the hospitality sector. This study investigates issues regarding the labour supply chain in the hotel sector through the integration of underpinning literature, in areas such as labour flexibility, supply chain management (SCM), and just-in-time management (JIT). It seeks to explore the phenomenon in the context of the supply of workers to client hotels by employment agencies, thereby testing the notion of the development of effective labour supply chains in the hotel sector. Constant fluctuation between demand and supply makes the hotel sector, a labour-intensive industry, that is in need of labour flexibility. According to Walsh (1991, p. 113), labour can be purchased almost on an "as needed" or "just-in-time" basis. This argument extends the potential for considering labour as part of the commodities which are exchanged within the production line or the supply chain. Through the evidence collected from both hotels and their partner employment agencies by using semi-structured in-depth interviews for data collection, a tendency to use agency staff in the hotel sector was found. Hotels use agencies in order to gain labour flexibility, cost-effectiveness, ease of dismissal, a good quality workforce and outsourcing prevention, as well as some relatively involuntary motivations in using agency services, such as "no-recruitment" company policies and recruitment difficulties. A pull system is adopted in this labour supply chain, that is, clients (e. g. hotels) "pull" demand as and when needed, instead of suppliers (e. g. agencies) "push" their supply to purchasers. A number of issues emerged in the study which demonstrate the existence of the labour supply chain and identify several approaches to make the chain run smoothly. However, the research itself has some limitations in its application, such as the lack of inputs from agency labour, a focus on hotel housekeeping operations, and sampling techniques. Notwithstanding these research limitations, the findings serve the main objective set for the study and confirm that employment agencies can form an effective labour solution to the hotel sector. This study is not intended to be generalisable to the whole population, but attempts to apply a theory (e. g., a hotel labour supply chain) within the context of the hotel sector.