What’s it like to be a 23-year-old single parent, working at a
minimum-level wage to support yourself and your child? Meet Callie
In high school, Callie learned that she was pregnant. The father did
not want to take any responsibility for the child, and for a time Callie
considered giving up her baby, Olivia, for adoption. But instead Callie
decided to drop out of school, get a reliable job, and raise the baby
For almost seven years, Callie has worked the front desk at The
Highland Golf, Tennis and Ski Resort. Her major duties include welcoming
and registering guests. When Callie started, there was always at least
one other person on duty with her. At peak periods, at least four
employees provided front-desk service. The employees worked well
together, and they had become good friends. In fact, several of the
employees spent some of their personal time together. The front desk was
Over the last two years, however, The Highland, like most high-end
resorts, started feeling the effects of the depressed economy.
Overbuilding in the vacation industry, together with increased
competition for tourism dollars, have decreased the resort’s
profitability. A drop in corporate-travel business has added to the
A year ago, the resort changed ownership. First, the new management
felt it could improve occupancy by increasing promotion and advertising
expenditures. The expected increase in business did not materialize,
however. So more recently, the resort started offering substantial
discount packages for groups. While this strategy did increase the
occupancy rate slightly, the company still experienced a 9.8 percent
decline in revenue per room. In the first six months of this year, the
resort’s occupancy rate was running at about 55 percent. This paled in
comparison with the average rate of 92 percent occupancy that the resort
used to see a decade ago. The continued decline in revenue per
available room and in profit margins caused the new management to
institute a cost-cutting drive.
Included in the attempt to restore profitability were such measures
as eliminating and consolidating various management and supervisory
positions and curtailing merit increases. Two years ago, there were 12
full-time and six part-time people in front-end guest services.
Currently, only nine people are involved directly in front-end guest
services, and two of them are part-time. Callie has been fortunate
enough to retain her job at The Highland, but several of Callie’s good
friends have been let go and have not been successful in finding other
employment in the area.
When Callie first started, The Highland was considered an excellent
employer. At that time, the resort was owned by one of the country’s
larger hotel real-estate corporations. Thomas, the previous general
manager, had instituted a number of family-friendly measures for
employees. Among those measures were a full range of alternative work
schedules, including flextime (a system whereby employees chose their
own work schedules within certain limits). For employees with children,
like Callie, the HR department would find quality child care and
discount the cost by 10 percent. Employees such as Callie who worked
more than 30 hours a week received healthcare benefits. Staying home
with a sick child was no problem, given the company’s flexible work
As part of an overall reward system, the company also instituted an
employee of the week, month, and year program. Employees received
“positive stroke” points based on customer evaluations and feedback.
Callie and others referred to these as their “report cards,” and
employees willingly treated customers as “very special people” hoping
they would receive good reports from customers. Each week, the top
three-point recipients in each work area received $25, $15, or $10 in
resort credit, which could be used in any of the resort’s facilities,
such as the coffee shop, swimming pool snack bar, gift shop, or dining
room. The monthly award winner in each area received $50, and his or her
photo was prominently displayed on the lobby wall.
Things were very different under the new owners. In addition to
eliminating some positions, they initiated a hiring freeze, meaning that
the remaining employees had to work much harder. They also discontinued
the employee recognition program, but the last round of winners’ photos
were still prominently displayed for all to see.
Some guests, who were particularly impressed with Callie’s customer
service, noticed the employee recognition board. Upon leaving the
resort, the guests asked Callie, “How come your picture’s not on the
board? You’ve been most helpful during our stay!”
“It should have been, but the new management doesn’t believe in those things,” Callie said. As their discussion continued, it became clear that Callie had lost her enthusiasm for her job. “They’re not as flexible as the previous management, so I’ve had to put work ahead of my child, Olivia. They’ve cut the childcare supplement, and several of my good friends have left. If business doesn’t pick up, I’ll probably lose my job! I love most of the people who stay with us. But I’m beginning to wonder if I should do something else.”
What do employees such as Callie Michaels want from work?
Evaluate Highland Golf, Tennis and Ski Resort’s employee recognition program under the previous ownership.
What are some actions that the current management of Highland Golf, Tennis and Ski Resort can take to improve employee morale?
Discuss the various models of motivation theory that could be relevant to this incident.
Explain why Callie is no longer excited about her job and future.