What Hotels Can Learn From Award-Winning Hospitals

By Joyce Gioia CEO, Employer of Choice International, Inc. | April 10, 2011

There are many types of recognition for employers to strive to achieve. Among the most difficult to earn is The Employer of Choice® Award. This challenging designation is awarded to public, private, or nonprofit employers that demonstrate effective implementation of best practices in attracting, developing, and retaining outstanding people. This distinction places employers in an elite group of only 29 organizations total from across the country that have ever earned the distinction.

Create a "Safe Place" for Open Discussion

One of the leading healthcare organizations in Illinois, Memorial Health System of Springfield (MHS) is a community-based, not-for-profit, operating three hospitals, out-patient facilities, and dozens of physician practices in the area.

To accomplish its goal of reforming their culture, MHS developed “The Great Place to Work Shop”, a weekly forum for leaders. The purpose was to provide a structured opportunity for them to examine survey results, interact and strategize, and receive training focused on best practices in leadership. They focused on and discussed different topics each week. Professionals from the "people division" were always available to meet one-on-one with leaders to further explore specific issues and challenges facing their departments.

The reasons for success of The Great Place to Work Shop are twofold: MHS created the workshops as “safe zones”. Whatever people discussed in the work shop stayed in the workshop; leaders felt safe talking about their challenges and sharing ideas, insights, and suggestions with each other.

Second, while leaders were taught how to use the survey results to make changes, they were encouraged not to own the process. Since the survey results unveiled each department’s view of employee engagement, they wanted each and every employee in that department to own their results. Moreover, MHS wanted the front-line employees to share their voice on what could/should be done to improve the situation. Working together, department leaders and their staffs embraced the need to develop and implement their own departmental plans to improve employee engagement.

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Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.