This thesis investigates the suitability of Social Media as a leadership engagement tool for reducing Gen Y hotel employees in Singapore. The implications and causes of high turnover in the hotel industry are well documented, and impacts on the availability of quality staff to match customer’s increasing demands for service. The situation is further exacerbated with the influx of Gen Y employees expected to make up majority of the workforce within the next decade. A closer examination revealed that the reality of career prospects offered by a hotel career is mismatched with those that Gen Y employees look for. Within the identified mismatches, the issue of leader-member relations was a recurrent theme. While a high quality leader-member relationship is believed to reduce turnover, a leader is unable to form such relationships with all employees due to limited resources. This results in differentiated treatment, which in turn causes negative impacts such as feelings of injustice amongst employees. Multiple characteristics of social media such as its ability to remove time and geographical barriers, and the fact that it is increasingly used in the workplace create some potential for its use as an engagement tool for leaders to expand their attention “bandwidth” in order to form high quality relationships with all employees.
Data were collected via semi-structured interviews with twenty-two Gen Y hotel staff in Singapore. Findings confirmed that leadership was one of the top determinants of turnover intentions amongst the participants. However, it was also found that both Singaporean hotel employers and employees do not see much value in the utilisation of social media in the workplace, citing concerns of privacy and work-life balance infringements. Findings also revealed that Gen Y employees seemed to accept differentiated treatment at work, believing that it is a “norm” amongst multiple other reasons. Participants also collectively felt that social media engagement cannot eliminate sources of differentiated treatment because social media may not address the reasons why some employees are in low quality relationships with their leaders in the first place.
Although social media was found to be an unsuitable engagement tool for eliminating differentiated treatment, the outcomes of this study contribute to the body of knowledge both academically and practically. In terms of academic contributions, this study is amongst the first to look at the application of social media as an internal engagement tool within the hospitality industry. Additionally, most studies which identified the disadvantages of differentiated treatment do not offer a solution, and this study’s exploration of social media aims to fill that gap. Practically, leaders in the Singapore hotel industry can gain a deeper understanding on why Gen Y employees would prefer not to use social media as an official work tool, and careful considerations can thus be made before jumping onto the social media “bandwagon”.