Rather than accept the high turnover rate in the hospitality industry, and the high costs associated with it, hotels can benefit in many ways by breeding a culture of “team members” that are all responsible for participating in reaching the overall goals of the hotel. Below, BLR outlines some helpful ideas for how to achieve a culture where employees feel empowered and part of a team.
The Hospitality Industry is commonly grouped into the “high turnover” category. I remember my professors in college continually mentioning the statistics regarding turnover in the industry. I simply accepted the statistics and moved on.
However, it all started to sink in once I started working, and it became even more of a concern once I took my first management position. I then became keenly aware of how costly employee turnover can be.
Rather than accept high turnover as inevitable, I took it head on and made it my mission to keep team members as happy as possible. I quickly realized that there were at least three main reasons why turnover was so high in the industry: 1) Many employees left because they simply didn’t seem valued. 2) Others left because they felt that they were underpaid. 3) Finally, I noticed that many were leaving due to the nature of the industry in general. Many left work each day feeling empty and unfulfilled.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid having your employees being another statistic that continues to support the notion that the hospitality industry has one of the highest turnover percentages. I found three key ways to not only beat the industry averages, but to help change the way the industry is viewed as a whole.
1 ) Create a culture
When I arrived at the second hotel I led, it was clear what was happening. The hotel had gone through three general managers in a little over a year. There was a culture that existed, but not one that was defined by a leader, but rather by the employees. The employees felt as if they ran the hotel and could dictate how things operated.
They were so used to poor leadership or no leadership presence at all, that they were forced to develop their own way of doing things. While some of the aspects of their culture were not wrong, they all needed to be changed a bit.
For example, the employees used to come into the hotel through the front door, instead of the employee entrance. I made sure that employees came in through the employee entrance and were prepared for work prior to being in the presence of a guest. I had to quickly create a culture that put the guest first.
I met with the department heads and explained that we would now refer to the employees as team members, and they would all be called leaders. It was astonishing to see how quickly the team members began to act like they were a part of a team, rather than working as individuals.
We then created a set of goals for the hotel to achieve. We posted the goals and involved every team member in creating the goals. The team members now understood that they played a key part in helping the hotel meet specific goals. We made sure to make the goals SMART (Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely).
We were also sure to celebrate and incent the team members for reaching the goals. Finally, we started nominating team members for awards. The hotel had never won an award prior to my arrival. It wasn’t because they didn’t have stars on the team; it was because no one took the time to tell others about the stars. By the time I left the hotel, the hotel had won twenty five awards in a little over 2 years!
By creating a culture, the team members had a sense of ownership, rather than feeling like they were just coming to work. With engaged team members and leaders, we noticed that our turnover percentage began to stabilize rather than continually increase.
2 ) Point to the future
Many team members leave because they find better paying jobs or feel that they will not be able to make enough money in the Hospitality Industry. People working for poor leaders or leaders who are afraid of training their team members can easily start to believe they do not have a future in the industry. You have to make it clear that you have a vested interest in their future.
One of the ways we did this was by cross-training them. It is a simple concept, but it allowed the team members to learn how to do other jobs and it also benefited each department. If a team member called out sick, we always had someone who knew how to do that person’s job.
Cross-training allowed each person to break up the monotony of their everyday routine. It stretched their minds and allowed them to build a better rapport with team members in other departments. It helped break down the departmental barriers that can easily exist in any workplace.
We were also very intentional about putting our star team members on a succession plan. We sat down with them and mapped out what they needed to learn in order to move up within the hotel or industry. Many leaders are afraid to teach their team members what they know, as they are afraid they will lose their job to them. I knew that training them would not only make my job easier, but would allow the team member to know that I cared about their future.
We were able to turn around the notion that the industry does not pay well. I promoted many people while I ran hotels and one of my assistants is now a successful general manager. Invest in their future by training them and mapping out career goals. Help them achieve their goals, and they will be more likely to stay employed with your organization. The newer generations will stay loyal to a company as long as they see a future with the company.
3 ) Get them involved
This is another simple concept, but one that if done properly, can be very effective in helping you retain your team members. The leadership team at the hotel found that we were spending a large amount of time each month planning our monthly team member luncheons. We were starting to run out of ideas and the luncheons were not as well received as they once were.
We decided to create a committee run by team members who volunteered to help plan, organize and run the team member luncheons. The luncheons were more fun, better attended and more effective. The committee put on the annual Christmas party as well as the annual pool party. The team members loved the events, and they especially loved knowing that their fellow team members were the ones who planned the event.
The success of the luncheon committee lead to another committee that we formed that community service as its focus. By creating committees on property, we allowed our line level team members to have a greater role in the hotel without having to pay them more or give them a promotion. Higher levels of team member engagement are a sure way to cut down on the turnover levels at your hotel or workplace.
While there are no sure fire ways to retain 100 percent of your employees, you can certainly employ various tactics to try and improve the percentage at your hotel or organization. Create a culture that lets your team members know they are valued and cared about. Let them see that you have a vested interest in their future, not only at your company, but wherever their career takes them.
Finally, involve them at a level like they have never been involved before. Give up a bit of control, and watch how positively your team responds. Studies have shown that higher levels of employee retention lead to higher guest satisfaction scores and a greater bottom line. The reasons for focusing on retention are many, but unfortunately, the number of operators focusing on it is few.