Job perceptions of Generation Z hotel employees towards working in COVID-19 quarantine hotels : the role of meaningful work

Goh, Edmund and Baum, Tom (2021) Job perceptions of Generation Z hotel employees towards working in COVID-19 quarantine hotels : the role of meaningful work. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 33 (5). pp. 1688-1710. ISSN 0959-6119 (

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Purpose The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a growing emergence of “quarantine hotels” that provide accommodation to guests who are mandated to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry to a country to prevent the spread of virus. Why are young hotel workers willing to endure relatively poor working conditions and expose themselves to dangerous COVID-19 workplace environments? Perhaps, the opportunity to participate in meaningful work is the prime motivator for hotel workers who choose to work in quarantine hotels. This study aims to investigate the motivations that young hotel employees hold towards working in a potentially dangerous hotel workplace. Design/methodology/approach Using personal interviews, this research explored the antecedents behind Generation Z employees’ (n = 42) actual behaviour towards working in quarantine hotels through the lens of the extended theory of planned behaviour (TPB) model (attitudes, subjective norms, perceived difficulties and meaningful work). Findings Results revealed that meaningful work such as making the world safer and going beyond the call of duty was a key motivating factor behind a willingness to work in quarantine hotels. Hotel employees also viewed working in quarantine hotels as exciting but dangerous, and the support from their family nuclei was seen as a key underlying motivator. Practical implications The key implications are the image of the hospitality industry in terms of professional identity to be an industry that is respected by society given the high-risk work environment with increased exposure to COVID-19. Even though Generation Z still see some long-standing negatives in hotel work such as long hours and emotional challenge, it is positive to know that there are contexts in which they can have more pride and meaningfulness from their jobs. Originality/value To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first paper to examine Generation Z hotel workers’ motivations to work in quarantine hotels. A key theoretical contribution to the body of knowledge is the extension of the TPB framework with the additional meaningful work variable.