Culture impacts nearly everything in business. This is especially true in the hospitality industry, where each employee interaction with a guest is a moment of truth. Will the employee deliver the expected experience, or leave the guest disappointed? The recipe for creating outstanding guest experiences is simple: happy employees.
Faced with rising labor costs and a shrinking labor pool, hospitality executives have two key challenges. The first is to maintain a culture where employees are happy and, therefore, deliver great service. The second is to retain service-minded employees despite a full-court press by the competition to lure them away.
With a limited budget, leaders have to think outside the paycheck. Remember that money isn’t your organization’s only currency. It costs little to care, invest, coach, encourage, solve problems, and reduce stress in the workplace. Below are a few suggestions for ensuring employees are happy and, ultimately, driving guest satisfaction.
Insist that gratitude is mission critical.
It’s not enough to create a quarterly or annual employee recognition program. Leaders have to show gratitude every shift, every day. Be intentional and consistent about engaging in staff meetings to discuss service expectations and share customer feedback. Always speak to staff in a sincere, personalized way that recognizes employees’ accomplishments. Provide guests with “gratitude cards” to collect powerful service stories.
Give employees VIP treatment.
Your service-minded employees are your most valuable asset. Every contact is an opportunity for you to show your appreciation. Employees will never forget a friendly conversation in the elevator, your holding the door for them, or your inquiring about a child or parent.
Enlist employees to secret shop the competition.
When you ask employees to experience a competitor’s service and report back to their peers, it tells employees that their opinions matter. It also brings the employee-guest service dynamic into focus.
Plan for the future–together.
Understand your employees personal and career ambitions. Collaborate on a path to help them achieve their goals, and clearly define your organization’s role in making that happen. More importantly, encourage employees to consider adopting a transparent mindset that the company will prepare them for success both here and elsewhere. By envisioning a future together, employees will see the bigger, long-term picture and they will be happier.
Help your employees simplify their lives.
Encourage managers to learn about their employees and identify ways to reduce stress. If an employee is working multiple jobs to make ends meet, provide a second job to simplify scheduling and transportation. If an employee has a long commute to work, help them relocate or find a carpool. Employees will think long and hard before leaving an employer who has improved their lives.
Celebrate personal milestones.
Is it a graduation, a birthday, a wedding? As a hospitality organization, you’re uniquely positioned to extend hospitality to your employees. When employees celebrate personal milestones where they work, you become more than a paycheck; you become family. Additionally, actively survey employees for how they really want to be appreciated.
When bad things happen, step up.
Whether it’s an illness or sudden loss, how your company responds to an employee in crisis is an unforgettable expression of your culture. Go to the hospital, attend the service, collect donations–whatever it takes. Other employees will notice your efforts and believe that you would do the same for them if something terrible happened.
About the Author
Bob Adams is a hotel management and hospitality practice leader at Adams Keegan.