Prioritising Retention: Progressive Wage Models in the Hospitality Industry

Did you know that the hospitality industry faces one of the highest turnover rates in the service sector? How can progressive wage models (PWM) be a game-changer in this scenario?

In the fast-paced world of hospitality, retaining skilled staff is as crucial as attracting them. High turnover rates not only disrupt operations but also impact service quality and guest satisfaction. A promising solution to this challenge lies in the implementation of Progressive Wage Models (PWM). These models offer a structured approach to employee compensation and development, fostering a more satisfied and committed workforce.

Unpacking High Turnover in Hospitality: Causes and Impacts

The hospitality sector, known for its dynamic and demanding environment, often faces the challenge of high staff turnover. Common reasons include limited career advancement opportunities, insufficient compensation, and challenging work-life balance. This turnover not only incurs recruitment costs but also affects team morale and service consistency.

What are Progressive Wage Models?

Progressive Wage Models are structured wage systems that link salary progression to skills upgrading and productivity improvement. Unlike traditional models where wages are often static and not clearly linked to skill advancement, PWM provides a clear pathway for employees to enhance their earnings as they upskill and contribute more significantly to the business.

Benefits of PWM in Reducing Turnover

Enhanced Employee Satisfaction

Fair and transparent wage systems boost morale and job satisfaction.

Career Progression Opportunities

Clear pathways for advancement encourage employees to invest in their roles long-term.

Reduced Turnover

Employees are less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere when they see a future within their current organisation.

Case Studies: Success Stories of PWM in Hospitality

Sheraton Towers Singapore: A Notable Example Sheraton Towers in Singapore is a prime example of successfully implementing a Progressive Wage Model. Since the Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP) launch in 2010, Sheraton Towers has made significant strides in raising productivity and benefiting their workers. They invested in technology and job redesign, leading to salary increases and productivity bonuses for their staff. For instance, room attendants received a 7% increase in their gross salaries and a monthly productivity bonus of $100, with the minimum salary raised from $1,125.50 to $1,200. To attract young Singaporean talent, the hotel adopted PWM at the executive level, offering structured career progression opportunities. Management Trainees can expect their salaries to increase from a starting pay of $1,800 to up to $2,500 for Diploma holders within two years.

National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Hospitality and Consumer Business Cluster: Building a Singaporean Core The NTUC’s Hospitality and Consumer Business Cluster unveiled an Integrated Progressive Wage model to benefit 3,000 rank-and-file workers and executives in the hotel sector. Under this model, junior-level workers, such as room attendants earning $1,000, can advance to higher positions like room associates, supervisors, assistant managers, and managers through deep-skilling and job re-design. This progression helps raise their wages from $1,300 to more than $3,000. Since August 2010, the Inclusive Growth Programme has aided 38 hotels, impacting 1,600 Singapore workers, of which 1,200 are low-wage workers. This PWM model aims to build a Singaporean core of managers and supervisors in the hotel sector.

Steps to Implement PWM in Hospitality Establishments

  • Assess Current Wage Structures: Understand the existing wage system and identify areas for improvement.
  • Set Clear Progression Pathways: Define how employees can move up the wage ladder, linking this to skill acquisition and performance.
  • Integrate Training Programs: Offer training and development opportunities that align with the progression model.

Challenges and Considerations

Implementing Progressive Wage Models (PWM) in the hospitality sector, while beneficial, comes with its set of challenges:

Initial Financial Investment

The most immediate challenge is the financial cost associated with increasing wages and possibly hiring additional staff to manage the PWM system. Businesses need to budget for these changes and plan for short-term financial adjustments.

Organisational Cultural Shift

Introducing PWM often requires a significant shift in organisational culture. This involves moving away from traditional wage systems to a more dynamic model, which may be met with resistance from both management and employees who are accustomed to the existing system.

Training and Development

Implementing PWM demands investment in employee training and development programs. This could mean allocating resources to upskill staff, which may initially seem like an additional expense.

Balancing Wage Increases with Business Goals

Businesses must carefully balance wage increases with overall business goals and profitability. This involves strategic planning to ensure that increased wages do not adversely affect the company’s bottom line.

Employee Expectations Management

With PWM, managing employee expectations becomes crucial. Clear communication about the progression pathways and what is required at each level is essential to prevent misunderstandings and dissatisfaction.

The Role of Leadership and Culture Change

Leadership plays a pivotal role in the successful implementation of PWM in the hospitality industry:

Championing the Change

Leaders must be the champions of PWM, advocating for its benefits and leading the transition. This involves openly endorsing the model and encouraging buy-in from all levels of the organisation.

Building a Supportive Culture

Creating a culture that values employee development and fair compensation is crucial. Leaders should foster an environment where employees feel their growth and well-being are a priority.

Transparent Communication

Effective communication from leadership about the PWM implementation, its benefits, and how it works is vital. Keeping all stakeholders informed and engaged reduces resistance and increases acceptance.

Leading by Example

Leaders should lead by example by adhering to the principles of PWM themselves. This means recognising and rewarding employees fairly and being open to feedback and suggestions for improvement.

Encouraging and Facilitating Training

Management should not only encourage but also facilitate ongoing training and development. This includes providing access to training programs and allowing time for skill development.

Monitoring and Adjusting

Leaders should continuously monitor the impact of PWM and be open to making adjustments. Regular feedback sessions and open-door policies can help in gathering insights and addressing any issues promptly.


Adopting Progressive Wage Models in the hospitality industry offers a sustainable solution to the challenge of high turnover. By providing clear pathways for career and wage progression, these models not only improve employee retention but also enhance service quality and guest satisfaction.

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