After months of closure and challenges with changing restrictions and reduced demand levels, there’s light at the end of the tunnel for the hotel and hospitality industry.
As hotel operators look to the looming northern hemisphere spring and summer with some optimism, now is the time to invest in your best asset and make sure your business stands out from the competition when people start to travel again.
Consumer expectations and habits have evolved and so must your hotel business to make the most of the new expectations your guests, suppliers and staff have. While there is a sense of optimism for the coming summer and a scale-up in vaccinations, McKinsey predicts hotel demands may not reach pre-COVID-19 levels until 2023. This means you must have sound strategies and policies in place to make the most of every opportunity.
The key to unlocking the experiences your hotel guests expect and building a strong foundation for recovery lies in the investment you make in your best asset: your people.
Having an engaged hotel workforce will be pivotal to the success of your strategies. Let’s discuss how to engage hotel employees so they can best deliver the experiences guests expect during the COVID-19 crisis.
How to Motivate Hotel Employees
Even though your hotel may open in a different shape or form to before, uncertainty will still remain – especially if the full recovery is not expected until 2023. For managers and people leaders in the hotel industry, this is a key challenge to ensure your people feel safe, are engaged, can still grow their careers and – most importantly – create the experiences that makes your hotel standout from the rest.
Here are four things every hotel manager should do right now.
Create a Sustainable, Flexible Working Model
We’re all waiting and willing to travel. In fact, research from the United States suggests that in the final week of January 2021:
- 38.7% of people day-dreamt about leisure travel
- 30.3% talked about travel with friends or relatives
- 27.0% researched travel ideas online.
But as businesses begin to reopen, hotel managers still face a conundrum — to return to an entirely physical workplace or not.
Chances are, during the pandemic, you had to manage critical functions remotely. As things return to a semblance of normality, some employees — especially those that enjoyed the convenience and safety of a work-from-home model — may not want to return to the office. Others may be eagerly awaiting a return to the physical workplace.
Of course, when you have a shift-based hotel staff, the challenges of a return to work or re-opening are different. Staff do not have the same option to work from home or remotely and often support schemes such as furlough have been a tool businesses have used during the shutdown.
To keep your hotel staff motivated, you have to create a flexible work model that takes into account the needs and preferences of each person.
Consider creating a hybrid working model that’s typified by scheduling flexibility (using digital staff rota planners or employee scheduling software can be of great help here). This way, employees can set their own availability and swap shifts among themselves so your operations are not affected by last-minute changes in someone’s schedule.
Also put measures into place that enable employees to engage with guests without personal contact. If you have changed policies and procedures internally to assist with staff and guest expectations during the pandemic, use a smart communications tool – and digital document storage – to ensure everyone has access to the right information at the right time.
These moves will instill confidence in your employees by assuring them that their safety is at the forefront of your mind, hence keeping them motivated.
A flexible working model is just the first piece of the puzzle. Alone, the working model will not keep your employee engaged and motivated. To really achieve great results, you must be empathetic and willing to listen to each employee.
One way to do this is by keeping communication channels open and giving employees a safe place to convey their worries about the working conditions. Check-in more often with every employee and deliver ongoing emotional support. With the Planday communication feature, you can reach relevant employees to extend empathy or grace when needed.
This will reaffirm how much you care about the well-being of your employees and gives them a sense of security about the workplace. This will also increase the motivation your hotel employees have and keep their sense of security up about their workplace, something that is vital at all times in people’s careers.
Highly motivated employees also deliver 17% higher productivity and 10% higher customer ratings compared with their deflated counterparts, so it just makes good business sense.
Reward Star Performers
When you create a flexible working model, extend empathy, and show that you care about employee health, happy employees feel obliged to reciprocate the good efforts.
This results in them working diligently to deliver the experiences guests want. To keep their productivity on an upward trajectory, however, you must reward good performance.
Create employee reward programs to recognise star performers. Raising an employee salary is a nice move, especially during the low season. But like other extrinsic factors, this doesn’t necessarily improve job satisfaction.
To really motivate hotel employees to sell more, focus on intrinsic motivational factors such as recognition and promotion. If an employee does something incredible, send a personalised congratulatory message. Go a step further by letting everyone in the organisation know about it. Giving other perks will keep employees incentivised and motivated.
Cultivate a Positive Work Culture
It’ll be a tough challenge to successfully pull off a full return to “normal” for hoteliers. The strategies described above show you how to best motivate staff. However, we’ve barely scratched the surface, and there’s a lot that still needs to be done to motivate employees in hotels.
Be sure to check out our comprehensive employee engagement guide, to learn more about employee engagement.
Also, keep in mind that technology will play a hugely significant role as the hospitality industry grinds through the transition, and in future. If you want to achieve success, implement the right technology such as robust employee management software to give your business a leg-up on the competition.