Unbalanced Ratio of Working Hours to Rewards

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The hospitality sector has become a particularly prominent part of the global economy in recent years. Although it includes a limited range of company types, the number of players in this sector, and their differences in sizes, services, and class are striking. The quality of service provided to customers in the hospitality industry is of considerable significance to business success because satisfied customers are likely to return or recommend a company to their friends or family members (Boella & Gross-Turner, 2020). Because the quality of service relies highly on the workers who interact with customers every day, research in human resource management is crucial to the hospitality sector.

In particular, motivation strategies are of interest to HR managers operating in the hospitality business, because motivated employees tend to produce better results in terms of performance and service quality (Boella & Gross-Turner, 2020). Financial rewards were the earliest recognized motivation strategy, and they continue to be used today in a great variety of industries and companies. However, research in the hospitality sector highlights significant inequality when it comes to wages, and people in lower-level jobs often earn fractions of the rewards available to managers and specialists (Casado-Díaz & Simón, 2016l; Joo-Ee, 2016). These people usually work longer hours and interact with customers more than those who earn higher wages and rewards, and thus customer service relies greatly on them. The focus of the proposed research will be on wage inequality in the hospitality industry. In particular, the research will consider the unbalanced ratio of working hours and rewards. The research questions that will be addressed as part of the study are as follows:

  1. Among workers in the hospitality sector, what is the relationship between the number of hours worked and financial compensation received in the corresponding time period?
  2. What is the impact of the unbalanced ratio of working hours and rewards on employees’ perceptions of organizational justice?

These questions are in line with the recommendations provided by Brotherton (2015) because they limit the focus of the study and consider an aspect of the topic that has not been researched sufficiently with respect to the hospitality sector. Consequently, the proposed research questions would help to fill in the gap in the literature, whereas the results could be used to provide recommendations for future management practice in the hospitality sector.

Aim and Objectives


The primary aim of the proposed study is to examine the prevalence and impact of unbalanced working hours to reward ratio in the hospitality sector. This aim corresponds to the research problem identified above, which is the inequality of wages in the hospitality sector and the inadequate amount of research literature on the topic of working hours to reward ratios. By fulfilling the suggested aim, the study would contribute to management practice in the hospitality sector. On the one hand, the research would show whether the problem is significant and affects a substantial share of employees in the industry. On the other hand, the research will also show whether or not the issue could influence customer service performance through employees’ perceptions of organizational justice. The aim suggested for this study fits the theoretical framework describing the influence of rewards and performance and could further knowledge by applying it to the hospitality sector.


Because the aim is twofold, and there are two separate research questions to be addressed, the study will also have two distinct objectives. Specifically, the objectives of the research will be as follows:

  1. To assess the relationship between working hours and financial compensation received by employees in companies in the hospitality sector.
  2. To identify the influence of unbalanced working hours to reward ratio on employees’ perceptions of organizational justice.

These objectives comply with the goal of the study and the proposed research questions. They will also allow formulating research hypotheses because they can be clearly defined and measured based on quantitative research instruments. The information that could help to fulfill these objectives is based on factual data and on reported attitudes, and both types of information would be relatively easy to collect. For this reason, the proposed objectives of the study are feasible and realistic. Further development and review of these objectives should not be required because they are connected with the methods, aim, and questions specific to the proposed study.

Literature Review

Rewards have been an essential topic of inquiry in human resource management, both in the hospitality sector and in other industries. In the hospitality sector, research on rewards is particularly crucial because they are connected to employees’ motivation and performance, which, in turn, affect the outcomes of their work and customer satisfaction. Ensuring that the relationship between rewards and employee outcomes is understood fully and any gaps are addressed could thus help to enhance practice throughout the sector, bringing better performance and productivity to companies operating in it.

Rewards in Hospitality

Research into reward in hospitality highlights the existing inequalities between workers. For example, a study by Casado-Díaz and Simón (2016) focused on wage differences in the hospitality sector. The researchers focused on examining the origins of differences in wages in the hospitality industry of Spain (Casado-Díaz & Simón, 2016). Because Spain is a popular tourist destination and has a well-developed hospitality sector, the situation evident in this country could reflect the general position of other hospitality markets. Additionally, the research collected a large volume of data for the period between 2002 and 2010, which contributes to its usefulness to the topic. The findings of the study proved that lower wages in the hospitality sector are mainly linked to workers’ positions in the company and their level of education, skills, and experience (Casado-Díaz & Simón, 2016). Consequently, employees who have limited skills and knowledge or occupy positions that do not require extensive skills and experience are paid much less than those in other hospitality jobs.

Another study that was useful to the topic is the research by Sturman, Ukhov, and Park (2017), which focused on the relationship between employee wages and costs of living. The researchers aimed to determine whether the costs of living in different locations could explain the differences in employees’ wages in the hospitality sector (Sturman et al., 2017). The results considered information from 97 jobs in 67 cities, making the research more reliable in its conclusions. The findings suggest that living costs explain some of the difference in wages in the hospitality sector, but the adjustment is not sufficient to cover the difference in living costs (Sturman et al., 2017). Consequently, the study showed that inequalities in financial rewards also exist between jobs of the same level that are located in different cities. People who work in capitals or popular tourist destinations that have high costs of living will struggle as a result of wage inequality even more than those who work in the countryside or in less expensive locations. Hence, in people who have low-level jobs in popular, expensive destinations, wage inequalities are more prominent, and they could have a significant influence on the performance and service in local hospitality businesses. Since the hospitality industry relies mostly on large, popular destinations, the topic necessitates further inquiry.

Importance of Working Hours to Reward Ratio

The working hours to reward ratio is mostly ignored by research, although it could offer more insight into wage inequalities that exist in the hospitality sector. For instance, based on the well-researched relationship between motivation, burnout, performance, and intentions to leave, it can be suggested that employees who work long hours but receive minimal rewards could affect hospitality businesses profoundly by reducing their quality of service (Boella & Goss-Turner, 2020). There are two ways in which this relationship could occur: through employee well-being and through perceptions of organizational justice.

Employee well-being and working hours to reward ratio. The relationship between long working hours, poor salary, and well-being has not been addressed in recent hospitality literature extensively. However, management and health research in other sectors showed a relationship. A study by Ryu (2016) focused on the public sector of South Korea and reviewed the data on working hours, rewards, physical health, and reported well-being in a sample of 186 public sector employees. The results suggested that employees who worked long hours and received low salaries were more likely to report decreased levels of well-being (Ryu, 2016). Reduced well-being could affect employee performance because it is linked to dissatisfaction, depressed mood, fatigue, and other adverse conditions.

Another study conducted in Europe focused on the link between working hours and health in a large, cross-sectional sample of over 20,000 participants (Artazcoz et al., 2016). In this study, researchers did not consider salary specifically, but the fact that the data was collected from a mixture of low- and high-income countries allows making inferences. The results showed a consistent, adverse effect of working longer hours on people’s health conditions in both sexes. Notably, the significance of the relationship was higher in non-Liberal countries with traditional family models, which usually have lower average income levels (Artazcoz et al., 2016). Consequently, this study showed that people in low-skilled, poorly paid jobs working long hours suffer from reduced levels of physical well-being. For this reason, their performance at work and the service they provide to clients in the hospitality sector can decline.

Organizational justice. Organizational justice is the second part of the mechanism by which unbalanced working hours to reward ratio could impact employee performance and the services they provide. Organizational justice is highly relevant to the problem of unbalanced working hours to reward ratio since it refers to employees’ understanding of the fairness of rewards received for their input (Imran, Majeed, & Ayub, 2015). Consequently, employees who work long hours and receive insufficient financial compensation would likely perceive their organizations as unfair. Low organizational justice, in turn, has a negative influence on organizational productivity and performance. In a study of private and public sector companies in Pakistan that involved 300 participants, Imran et al. (2015) found that organizational justice was significantly and positively correlated with organizational productivity. In other words, companies that were perceived as unfair in their distribution of rewards were likely to have lower employee productivity, which impacted their profitability and service delivery.

A study from the restaurant industry in East Asia arrived at the same conclusion. According to Lee, Kim, Son, and Kim (2015), employees’ perceptions of organizational justice were crucial to their role performance. In particular, distributive organizational justice, concerned with the distribution of rewards within the company, influenced the ways in which employees saw their employers, resulting in changes in trust, performance, and motivation (Lee et al., 2015). This suggests that an unbalanced ratio or working hours to rewards across the company could impact employees’ commitment to it on multiple levels, thus decreasing organizational performance.


Overall, the literature review allows preparing a conceptual framework that illustrates the relationship between different concepts. Based on the information gathered from research, Figure 1 presents a conceptual framework that the proposed study will apply. Because of the effect of unbalanced working hours to reward ratio, employees experience reduced well-being and negative perceptions of organizational justice. This, in turn, affects their individual performance – and, consequently, organizational performance – adversely.

Conceptual framework.
Figure 1. Conceptual framework.

Research Methodology

Research Methods

The selected research design is quantitative correlational, which suits the aim, objectives, and research questions suggested for this study. According to Brotherton (2015), correlational studies are particularly useful when the research focuses on the relationship between two or more variables. In this case, the study will consider two sets of relationships: between working hours and rewards and between unbalanced working hours to reward ratio and organizational justice. Exploring both relationships through a correlational methodology would help to fulfill the objectives of the research and answer the questions posed. The study will be conducted online, and employees working in the hospitality sector will be invited to fill online surveys designed to measure the variables of working hours, reward, and perceived organizational justice.

Data Collection

Surveys will be the primary method of data collection because they suit the purpose of the study and its design. Furthermore, surveys are widely used in business management research, which will allow finding valid and reliable instruments to measure organizational justice. For instance, Imran et al. (2015) used a scale of organizational justice that had high validity and reliability, and this instrument could also be applied in the proposed research. As a data collection method, surveys have other benefits because they are cheap and easy to implement and can be administered online (Brotherton, 2015). As a result, surveys would allow to include a larger sample of participants in the study. Based on the considerations discussed by Brotherton (2015), it is suggested that the ideal sample size for the survey will be 300 workers from hospitality companies.

Data Analysis

Quantitative data requires careful analysis to determine the relationship between two or more variables and predict their effect on one another. Consequently, the use of reliable and proven data analysis tools and tests is essential to performing a high-quality study. In correlational research, correlation and regression analyses can both be used to interpret data (Brotherton, 2015). Therefore, the results of data collection will be analyzed using these two methods in SPSS. A statistical description of results will also be provided to highlight common patterns in variables. This process of data analysis will help to fulfill the goals of the study while also delivering valuable information to the audience.

Ethical Considerations

Addressing ethical considerations is crucial to research design because it helps to reduce the possibility of bias and ensure compliance with all the relevant laws, standards, and rules related to research procedures. Brotherton (2015) explains that research involving human subjects is particularly sensitive because of concerns related to voluntary participation, completeness of information, privacy, anonymity, and confidentiality. Consequently, these topics represent the primary ethical considerations of the proposed research. For example, the study presents a risk of loss of anonymity if the participants’ identifying information is leaked to third parties. Confidentiality of the responses could also be compromised if they are revealed to the participants’ employers or to other participants of the study. Ensuring that each participant takes part in the survey voluntarily is also essential because the results of participants who were forced or deceived into participating could be biased.

In order to address them adequately, the researcher will provide potential participants will all relevant information about the study, its purposes, and procedures. The data collected from the participants will not include their names or other identifying information, and the results of data collection will be stored on a password-protected device and destroyed after three years. The participants will also sign an informed consent form to confirm that their participation is voluntary. Lastly, the procedures discussed above will be followed strictly to reduce the risk of bias in the results and prevent data losses or leaks. It is expected that the proposed steps will help to protect the participants and the results of the study by ensuring that it complies with all relevant ethical standards.


Artazcoz, L., Cortès, I., Benavides, F. G., Escribà-Agüir, V., Bartoll, X., Vargas, H., & Borrell, C. (2016). Long working hours and health in Europe: Gender and welfare state differences in a context of economic crisis. Health & Place, 40(1), 161-168.

Boella, M. J., & Goss-Turner, S. (2020). Human resource management in the hospitality industry: A guide to best practice (10th ed.). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Brotherton, B. (2015). Researching hospitality and tourism (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: CA, Sage

Casado-Díaz, J.M., & Simón, H. (2016) Wage differences in the hospitality sector. Tourism Management, 52(1), 96–109.

Imran, R., Majeed, M., & Ayub, A. (2015). Impact of organizational justice, job security and job satisfaction on organizational productivity. Journal of Economics, Business and Management, 3(9), 840-845.

Joo-Ee, G. (2016). Minimum wage and the hospitality industry in Malaysia: An analysis of employee perceptions. Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality & Tourism, 15(1), 29-44.

Lee, Y. K., Kim, S., Son, M. H., & Kim, M. S. (2015). Linking organizational justice to job performance: Evidence from the restaurant industry in East Asia. Asia Pacific Journal of Tourism Research, 20(1), 1527-1544.

Ryu, G. (2016). Public employees’ well-being when having long working hours and low-salary working conditions. Public Personnel Management, 45(1), 70-89.

Sturman, M. C., Ukhov, A. D., & Park, S. (2017). The effect of cost of living on employee wages in the hospitality industry. Cornell Hospitality Quarterly, 58(2), 179-189.

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