Hotel Worker Recognition: How to Keep Your Employees Engaged
By Jason Ferrara Vice President, Corporate Marketing, CareerBuilder | June 26, 2011
Keeping employees engaged in most circumstances is a challenge, but in the current economy it has become even more difficult. Engaged employees feel a positive connection to and care about the future of the company they work for. When times are good, many employers go to great lengths, and sometimes to great expense, to reward and recognize their employees to keep them motivated and satisfied. But when occupancy rates decline and margins shrink, employers often discontinue employee rewards, reduce employee benefits and eliminate incentives. This can lead to increased employee turnover and disengaged employees, and in turn, can negatively impact customer service levels and put even more pressure on profitability.
The challenge of building and keeping a highly motivated workforce doesn't go away in a recession. While employers may think that workers would be less inclined to quit their jobs when jobs are scarce, they may find that the recession has actually triggered employees' desire to look elsewhere. That's because employees become disengaged and disheartened by cost-cutting measures implemented by their employers. Layoffs, furloughs, postponed merit increases and other actions can put employees into a tailspin. A June 2010 survey by CareerBuilder of more than 200 hospitality workers found that 34 percent of respondents said the recession has caused them to want to change jobs.
Workers cite several reasons for wanting to change jobs, including:
- The climate in my work environment has changed – 20 percent
- I'm overworked – 14 percent
- I'm under a great deal of stress – 11 percent
- My pay was cut – 9 percent
- I'm feeling resentment over seeing co-workers laid off – 5 percent
It's a normal response for employees who feel insecure and fear they may be laid off to want to look elsewhere for a job or a company that, on the surface, may seem more stable and secure. What's discouraging is that many of those who may be looking to change jobs could be your best employees. Rather than feeling a sense of gratitude for having kept their jobs, they may instead feel the need to find a new line of work before they find themselves in the unemployment line. In fact, when these same hospitality workers were asked about the likelihood that they would change jobs in the next 12 months, 35 percent said they were likely, which represented the highest response across all industries surveyed.
So what can you do to combat this need to leave and re-engage employees? First, you need to understand what they are feeling and what they hope to gain with a job change. Then, you can begin to develop a plan of action that will help quell those reactions and restore employees' commitment to your company and its success. Of those surveyed who were looking for or planning to look for a new job, 68 percent said they desired higher compensation.(1) Overcoming that challenge, especially when revenue and profits are down, may seem unlikely. Keep in mind, however, that money isn't the only motivational tool at your disposal. Many studies have found that non-monetary compensation can also be a positive motivator. Depending upon your property, you could offer employees free or discounted use of hotel facilities like access to gym and exercise equipment during non-peak days or hours; use of certain spa services (steam room, Jacuzzi, aromatherapy sessions); free or discounted coffee, beverages and snacks or special priced meals; or use of vacant meeting rooms for their book club, church or volunteer organizations. While these privileges won't put cash in their pockets, they could help employees save money or provide other upsides.