Lessons Learned from deploying 5S in the Hospitality Industry
by Cristhian Osorio
Customer satisfaction is at the core of the Hospitality business, with service delivery being one of the critical factors influencing guests’ choice of a hotel. There are several factors that can impact service delivery and one of them is having organized, safe and clean work-spaces. A necessary requirement for employees to perform at their best.
Think about the following issues:
- Customers waiting (too long) for requested items to be delivered to their rooms.
- Housekeeping staff cannot find the necessary items or tools to prepare the rooms.
- The pantry looks most of the times not clean and / or disorganized.
5S is a structured approach to systematically reinforce organisation, cleanliness, standardization and discipline in the workplace. Its aim is to create a work environment that allows people to be productive and deliver good quality of product / service, while taking pride of their workplace. It also often considered to be the starting point of improving operational performance, service quality, and not least employee safety.
Each one of the five ‘S’ represents a Japanese word (with its English translation):
- Seiri (Sorting): eliminate everything that is not required to perform the work. Keep only the necessary tools / items.
- Seiton (Straighten): arrange the necessary tools / items in such a way that are visible and easily accessible.
- Seiso (Shine): clean the tools / items that have been kept, so as to be fit for usage.
- Seketsu (Standardise): establish rules for maintaining the first 3 S’s.
- Shitsuke (Sustain): reinforce and ensure the sustainability of the 5S activities.
Some of my key lessons from implementing 5S in hotels around the world are:
- Initial training is a critical component of 5S application. This is important both at the beginning of the initiative to help teams implement 5S, but also later as a refresher or to properly onboard new employees.
- Communicate – communicate – communicate. Use flyers, stand-up meetings and communication boards to talk about 5S and its benefits to the employees and the organization. It helps create and maintain momentum.
- Enhance visibility of current operations and workflow. Use tools such as flow charts and spaghetti diagrams to show how current set up impacts the completion of various tasks. Help employees find the waste and unsafe practices. 5S is much more than a cleaning and organizing activity.
- Take “before” and “after” photographs. These communicate the impact of the activity to the rest of the organization, keeping the teams motivated and engaged. A picture is worth a thousand words.
- Ensure the involvement of relevant departments to properly implement the actions identified. For example, Engineering and Stewarding departments may need to support the repairing and / or discarding of tools and equipment.
- Compile and share good practices and lessons learnt. As experience is gained, it is important to share findings and improvements across the organization. These can generate new ideas and spur more actions.
The value and importance of 5S is often underrated. Treat it as nothing more than a cleaning exercise and its value will be limited.
Make it the first step towards a series of process improvement activities and you will reap significant benefits.