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Motivating Front-line Staff

Small Actions By Hotel Management Can Be Key In Retaining Top Talent

Monday, June 11, 2018
Mr. Larry Mogelonsky
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A great guest experience is built one interaction at a time. Such guest interactions, however, are most often not handled by the senior managers reading this article but by the frontline staffers who have yet to reach a supervisory position. Thus, the demeanor with which your associates conduct themselves will have a direct influence on the guest experience and the positive halo effects that result from having well-satisfied customers.

Before we address specific steps that will keep your team in jovial spirits, it’s important to highlight two challenges that our industry is currently facing. First, staffing is becoming a foremost issue on hoteliers’ minds with property owners constantly looking for solutions to curb costs, reduce turnover and boost employee motivation. Next, our industry as a whole is confronting a bit of a ‘brain drain’ as top talent continues to be leeched by greater income prospects in STEM-related fields or by other reasons related to the staid perception that working at one of our organizations have acquired.

In short, we need better tactics to prevent our stars from jumping ship without sizably inflating our wage structures, as well as to foster a healthy ground-up development of our associates so the knowledge of our current senior team is effectively passed down to the next generation of hoteliers.

Rather than building your team through reams of documentation on proper succession planning or through a years-in-the-making mentorship program, what we are discussing here are the moment-to-moment activities you can engage in to motivate staff to perform at their best. In addition, at the very least, this will entice them to stick around long enough for your shimmering corporate culture to glean through.

While these actions are all part of being an effective leader, often we forget about the minutia that can make a difference in our team’s daily lives in favor of grand, broad theories with no practical applications. The better you treat your team, however, the better their performance and the healthier your revenues. With this in mind, here are some ideas to consider:

1. Beyond employee of the month. While putting the spotlight on a standout associate 12 times a year is a tried-and-true technique to boost morale, it doesn’t go far enough, particularly in an organization that has hundreds of employees working out of the same location. Highlighting individuals from each department companywide is a worth a thought, as are monthly informal mentorship talks with your stand out employees. For this latter initiative, it’s not just about praising those who go above and beyond what the job calls for; it’s about saying to them, “You’ve done great. Now where do you want to go with your career?” You can actively help them reach their desired outcome.

2. Spend a day on the frontline. Specifically, it’s most critical for senior managers to experience what front-line staffers go through in other operations that they are not familiar with. For example, a rooms director may already be intimately acquainted with the backbreaking work carried out by the property’s room attendants, but not so much for the signature restaurant’s servers and line cooks.

3. Cross-departmental activities. It’s important to build bridges across departmental lines not only so those individuals feel more like part of a family, but also so that each employee understands how dynamic a workplace a hotel really is. Oftentimes boredom can set in from performing repetitive tasks, but if every associate knows that there are other opportunities for continued learning available to them, it will greatly reduce job turnover, especially, if there’s a lateral placement program already setup.

4. Staff prizes. Think coupons or gift cards for good online reviews. Perhaps you open up the budget a bit to allow for a catered lunch after the team surpasses a milestone or overcomes a tough challenge. Compensation aside from some heartfelt thanks can go a long way to making your associates feel valued because it gives each of them a memento of their hard work, not to mention the effective team-building that occurs when the reward is group-based.

5. Community bulletin board. A culture without constant internal communication is doomed to fail because individuals won’t feel connected to the greater whole. In today’s workplace, though, it is difficult to bring everyone physically together on a regular basis, so harnessing the power of the Internet is essential. With new mobile apps as well as a slew of established online dashboard solutions, you can create a members portal for your entire team, which can used to post news or industry happenings. To build on the prizing idea, sometimes just seeing the fruits of your labors come to bear through an effusive guest review or a cheerful restaurant critique in the paper is all that’s needed to keep your staffers happy. It’s best to think of these bulletins as a training tool whereby regular updates will educate your entire team in order to help them become better hoteliers.

These are just five entry-level activities that you can implement, and no doubt you already have plenty more that come to mind. So be a leader and get started today in order to be best prepared for the hotel world of tomorrow.

Larry Mogelonsky    Mr. Larry Mogelonsky
Managing Partner, Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited
Owners, Principals, or Partners
LMA Communications Inc.

Bio: One of the world’s most published writer in hospitality, Larry Mogelonsky is the principal of Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited, a Toronto-based consulting practice. His experience encompasses hotel properties around the world, both branded and independent, and ranging from luxury and boutique to select-service. Larry is also on several boards for companies focused on hotel technology. His work includes five books “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012), “Llamas Rule” (2013), ...
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