Every company wants great employees—without them, a company can’t survive. That’s especially true in the hospitality industry where employees are the face of a property. Lackluster employees will only translate to poor guest experiences, and those guests will take their business to the competition. However, retaining great employees has become more difficult in this industry. People are spending less time at jobs than they have in the past. A new generation of employees has entered the workforce with different wants and needs, which aren’t always clear to hoteliers.
What is clear is that once great employees are found, it’s important to keep them from going elsewhere. Talented team members have a greater capacity to be more efficient, bring value to other departments, and can continuously evolve in their area of expertise while expanding on new skills and talents. They are the drivers behind successful hotel operations that ensure guests will return to a property.
Retaining great employees can be a challenge. Below are four best practices to help along the way.
1. Lead by example with open communication
If a hotel is not leading by example, it may soon be saying goodbye to its best and brightest. Think about what working environment you want for your hotel. Chances are that what you want aligns with what your employees want, too.
Maintain a positive, team-focused environment with an open-door communication policy to ensure employees always feel heard. Communication should be constructive with performance evaluations that don’t solely focus on the negative. Frame reviews from the positive side to reinforce and encourage the continuation of great work. These evaluations should not be written like a high-school grade card, but they should allow for an open dialogue between employees and management.
Employee surveys are another way to promote open communication. These surveys will provide invaluable feedback on employees’ attitudes toward their jobs. They also give teams a chance to suggest changes that may be helpful to consider when looking at operations.
2. It’s not just about the money
A lot of people think the only way to retain employees is to look at the dollar signs, but that’s not always the case. Many in the workforce today are looking toward professional development opportunities. If a manager takes an interest in an employee’s growth and development, that can go a lot further than a $1 raise.
Likewise, mutual respect is key. It starts with the details—as minor as paying attention to basic aspects such as proper uniforms for employees so that they look and feel good while working. Job titles can also be a way to show respect, such as “guest-service host” instead of “front-desk agent.” Being more respectful of an employee’s role can help lift them up.
3. Be flexible
A great work/life balance will work wonders for employee retention. Hotels are a 24/7 business, so balance can be challenging sometimes. But people aren’t meant to work 24/7 jobs. Employees need to be able to take care of themselves and shouldn’t be afraid to ask for flexibility on doctor appointments or time off for family issues. A liberal paid time off (PTO) policy that encompasses holidays, sick time, and personal time can work well for employee retention. Employees can use their PTO to take time off for their needs, or they can use it for extra cash in their paychecks.
4. Focus on training
It’s not enough to train new employees by having them shadow staff for two days before throwing them in the fire. Training needs to be done on a one-on-one and continual basis. Remember that no two people are the same. One person might be ready within a few days, while another might need more time. If employees aren’t trained properly based on their needs, the guest experience will suffer and unhappy employees will look elsewhere for work.
Cross training is equally important for your operations, not only because it can help with succession planning but also because it exposes a team to different areas of the hotel. It allows employees from different departments to interact, understand each other’s jobs, and form a mutual respect.
At the end of the day, happy employees will stay. If this isn’t the year a hotel decided to focus on employee retention, next year will be too late. Take notice of your team now so that the competition doesn’t get stronger by wooing away the heart of your hotel.
About the Author
Jim Sichta is the vice president of operations at Charlestowne Hotels.