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“We are like a family!”: Flexibility and Intention to Stay in Boutique Hotels in Turkey

“We are like a family!”: Flexibility and Intention to Stay in Boutique Hotels in Turkey

Banu S. Unsal-Akbıyık and Isik U. Zeytinoglu

Volume : 73-2 (2018)


This study focuses on a unique type of small business—boutique hotels in Istanbul, Turkey—, and aims to understand whether employers’ use of internal flexibility strategies is associated with boutique hotel employees’ intention to stay in theirorganization. Internal flexibility strategies refer to shiftwork, longworkweeks, unpaid overtime, and working preferred hours.

Our study focuses on the experience of employees in boutique hotels in Turkey, which is one of the largest economies globally with its hospitality sector being the eighth largest in the world (Zeytinoglu et al., 2012a and 2012b). We test the conceptual model of internal flexibility strategies and intention to stay using data from 20 interviews and 122 surveys with employees in 32 boutique hotels.

As our qualitative and quantitative study shows, shiftwork decreases boutique hotel employees’ intention to stay, but long work weeks and working unpaid overtime do not affect the intention to stay.Furthermore, as our qualitative study shows, the close family-like work environments that exist in boutique hotels contribute to the employees’ intention to stay. As our respondents said in thequalitative part of the study: “‘We’re like a family!’ and cannot leave our ‘home’!”, despite not liking the shiftwork.

By examining the relationships between flexibility and intention to stay in small workplaces such as boutique hotels, our study contributes to both the academic literature on internal labour flexibility and to the model of intention to stay. For practitioners, this study provides evidence on the use of the type of internal labour flexibility strategies used in boutique hotels, contributing to the understanding of how boutique hotels can be successful in retaining valuable staff.

Keywords: internal labour flexibility, intention to stay, boutique hotel.