The Top 4 Principles in Retaining Hotel Employees

By Erik Van Slyke Managing Director, Solleva | June 02, 2016

Most hotel executives have long understood the value of retaining top notch employees. Countless studies have linked high employee retention to vital results such as improved service quality and operational effectiveness, reduced overtime and hiring costs, as well as increased customer satisfaction and guest experience ratings. Strong retention is highly correlated with strong company performance.

To provide further evidence of this link, the hotels consistently appearing on the lists of most admired companies and best places to work report an average annual turnover rate of 9% compared to industry averages of 27-37%. This difference results in a significant and immediate benefit to the bottom line, especially considering that the American Hotel and Motel Association, Cornell’s Hotel School and the Society of Human Resource Management report that the average turnover cost of a frontline hotel employee ranges from $3,500 to nearly $6,000.

But the drivers of retention are about much more than the glamour of appearing on a Top 100 list. Sure, having an admired brand, consistently solid financial performance and best practice HR programs do indeed help companies achieve desired retention results. The more critical impact on retention, however, is made in the trenches when managers at all levels embrace four key principles for retaining employees.

Know Thyself

The starting point for improved employee retention is based on the simple premise that the best way to increase retention is to hire the right people for the job. And that requires understanding the criteria for success on the job in the specific context of your organization. This goes beyond a basic understanding of the tasks, duties, and methods necessary to do the work. Those only provide the basics.

Knowing thyself requires the deeper understanding that comes from examining a broad range of factors that are ultimately more critical to success. These include honest assessments of company culture, managerial style and organization values—both the idealistic objectives listed on company posters and ad campaigns and the demonstrated behaviors of managers and employees. It also requires understanding the unique criteria found in engaged, top performers—such factors as competencies, strengths, behavioral style, values, attitudes and ambitions.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.