Employee Satisfaction at Hilton

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Hilton Hotels & Resorts is the flagship brand of American international hospitality and probably the most recognizable hotel chain in the world. Today, the company’s portfolio includes 6,215 properties in more than 118 countries (Macrotrends, 2020). Aside from that, Hilton is a major employer providing jobs to thousands of people and contributing to the global hospitality and tourism sector. As of 2018, Hilton Worldwide Holding hired 173,000 people around the globe with an annual employee number growth in the range of 2.3-4.0% (Macro Trends, 2020). Despite the impressive figures, the company is not without flaws and has its own challenges it needs to overcome.

Hilton’ CCO Silcock talks at length about some of these issues. There is clear competition with AirBnB – a new type of lodging that has been on the rise in the past few years. According to Silcock, Hilton can stand the competition with a combination of something old and something new (Pace Dimensions, 2018). On the one hand, the hotel chain’s reputation speaks for itself, and customers choose it for its excellent level of service, safety, and consistency. On the other hand, there is a growing push for innovation, wider use of data, and digital communications as customers’ expectations of convenience continue to change (Pace Dimensions, 2018).

Silcock admits that as an industry, hospitality does not fully utilize the data to inform decision-making and personalize the customer experience.

However, technologies are no more than tools, while people are the backbone of any brand. Malyarov (2020) reports that the churn rates in hospitality are among the highest across all sectors. The annual turnover rate at hotels lies anywhere between 30 and 70% (Malyarov, 2020). 63% of hospitality employers admit that the difficulties in hiring more staff occur not only due to skill shortages but also due to the industry’s reputation and working conditions. Like any other company, Hilton is interested in decreasing the turnover and training employees to revolutionize the hotel business.

Situation Analysis

The initial assessment of Hilton Hotels & Resorts already has some information about the company’s position on the market and the challenges that it faces today. To put together a fuller picture, it makes sense to conduct a SWOT analysis that is presented below:

  1. Strengths. Hilton is a company with a century-old history and a worldwide reputation. Due to its strong position in the global market and high revenues, Hilton has abundant resources to embrace expensive technology and make structural changes. It has already introduced corporate practices to boost employee satisfaction and improve retention (Pereira, 2016);
  2. Weaknesses. Hilton is overdependent on the US market and poorly represented in the Asia Pacific region. It is not immune to high employee turnover that is characteristic of the hospitality sector;
  3. Opportunities. The brand may still expand internationally and strengthen its presence in the markets where it does not have much property yet. It can adopt new technologies to personalize the customer experience and provide customers with even better services;
  4. Threats. Hilton competes with companies such as Airbnb that disrupt the hospitality industry and offer a brand new approach to lodging and accommodation. Aside from that, the company has to consider natural and manmade disasters such as pandemics and terrorism threats.

Diagnosing the Marketing Problem

Even though Hilton has put a conscious effort into making its hotels a great place to work, there is not enough employee data that would suggest whether the changes have led to increased employee satisfaction. Businesses spend a great deal of time trying to improve employee performance. However, it is fairly rare for businesses to turn to employees and inquire about what could make them happier in the workplace. The effects of poor job satisfaction go well beyond turnover rates. For instance, Nwobia and Aljohani (2017) found that chronic dissatisfaction leads to disengagement. An employee may be present in the workplace but be detached from their responsibilities. He or she is not incentivized to give their best and take initiative. Besides, dissatisfied employees are more likely to impulsively quit when facing an unpleasant event (Nwobia and Aljohan, 2017). The latter is especially relevant amid the Covid-19 pandemic when businesses struggle to retain functional staff.

Surely, some disregard for employees’ needs stems not from indifference but from the logistic inconvenience. Hilton is a giant corporation with franchises all over the world, and assuring quality employee experience across the board is fairly challenging. In addition, in big companies with multiple management layers, there might be a disconnect between how executives envision the corporate culture and how employees experience it. Without employee satisfaction research, Hilton risks never bridging this gap and not adjusting its strategies to meet the real needs of its employees.

Current Research

Job satisfaction is one of the most researched concepts in the field of work psychology. There are several theories that help to better understand the nature of job satisfaction. Maslow’s hierarchy is a model of human motivation whose main assumption hinges on the human tendency to move to a higher level of needs once the more basic needs are satisfied (Hollway, 2019). Therefore, if a job provides employees with safety, security, decent remuneration, and health benefits, they start seeking belonging and personal fulfillment. Employees who do not have to worry about food or shelter now have mental resources to reflect on the meaning of their professional activities and where it fits in the larger context.

Another useful theory is the Job Characteristics Model (JCM) that, unlike Maslow’s pyramid, focuses on the corporate world and makes claims about what brings about job satisfaction. In particular, the JCM argues that a fulfilling job needs to have the following five characteristics: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback (Hollway, 2019). These five elements account for the emergence of three critical states in employees which are meaningfulness of work, responsibility for the outcomes, and knowledge of results (Hollway. 2019). Together, states and components create a system in which workers are intrinsically motivated and satisfied with what they do.

Research Questions

The purpose of this research is to gain insight into employees’ experience working at Hilton hotels and resorts. The present study will address the root cause behind some of the challenges that hospitality businesses may experience which is job dissatisfaction. Job dissatisfaction leads to low morale among workers and manifests itself through a variety of “symptoms”: turnover intention, poor performance, violations of the code of conduct, and others. When defining a problem, critical thinking helps to track the events back to the principal cause and prioritize it over addressing its consequences. Hence, the research questions for the present study may be formulated as follows:

  1. Do Hilton employees consider the company’s human resources management strategy helpful and effective?
  2. Are Hilton employees satisfied with their jobs?
  3. Do they find their jobs meaningful, and if yes, what meaning do they assign to their jobs?


Hollway, W. (2019). Industrial (occupational) and organizational psychology. In Companion Encyclopedia of Psychology (pp. 1215-1230). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Macrotrends. Hilton Worldwide Holdings: Number of employees 2011-2020 | HLT. Web.

Malyarov, N. Retention in Hospitality study 2020. Web.

Nwobia, I. E., & Aljohani, M. S. (2017). The effect of job dissatisfaction and workplace bullying on turnover intention: Organization climate and group cohesion as moderators. International Journal of Marketing Studies, 9(3), 136-143.

Pace Dimensions. Hilton’s Chris Silcock on challenges for hotels in 2018. Web.

Pereira, N. (2016). Hilton reveals its employee satisfaction secret. Hotelier. Web.

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