Employee Engagement: How to use recognition and non-monetary rewards to drive employee engagement

By Justin Sun Compensation Analyst, Lockheed Martin | March 11, 2012

In today’s market where rewarding staff with salary increases and bonuses may be difficult to come by, the use of non-monetary rewards to drive engagement is no longer just an optional or nice thing to do. One of the most common nonfinancial rewards is recognition, and you can experience a high return on investment in the use of this simple, yet powerful reward through increased guest satisfaction ratings and loyalty.

But what does recognition actually have to do with the bottom line? A model that demonstrates the importance of recognition’s role in driving financial performance is the service profit-chain. Developed by a group of Harvard University researchers in the nineties, the service profit-chain claims that a direct link exists between top service experiences, customer loyalty, and profit. Research shows that low employee turnover, due to high engagement, is correlated with high customer satisfaction and that a culture focused on showing genuine care for both customers and fellow employees is one of the highest drivers of engagement.

Furthermore, a recent study by MarketTools Inc. for Globoforce confirms that a lack of sincere recognition provided to employees is a leading cause of turnover. The study identifies a solid correlation between the level of recognition delivered by managers and the loyalty of their direct reports.
Thus, the effort that managers invest in getting to know their employees and the motivators that drive them to go above and beyond in their performance can translate into a dramatic increase in guest satisfaction scores and loyalty.

To illustrate, let’s take as an example a top-performing front desk agent in your hotel who is having a difficult week due to a personal issue outside of work. Being aware of the trauma that this employee is dealing with, you could offer her the option of working a more flexible schedule, at least temporarily, to show that you are concerned about her personal needs. Catering to this employee’s needs outside of the workplace is one way in which you could show her your appreciation for her continuous commitment to exceptional guest service and enhance her motivation level in doing so.

Managers need to take the time to get to know their employees and what makes them tick in the same way that they seek to learn more about their guests’ preferences. By becoming more aware of what incentives—from a flexible working schedule to gift cards—are most meaningful to your employees, you can ensure that you obtain the greatest return on investment through your nonfinancial rewards. In an environment as mentally and physically stressful as a hotel, a simple effort to show real care and concern for your employees can have a dramatic impact on how they treat your guests.

If you want your employees to smile sincerely at guests and to greet each of them by name, you should demonstrate this behavior by smiling and greeting your own employees by name. If you want employees to engage in conversation with guests about how their day is going, you can encourage this behavior by showing a sincere desire to know how your employees are doing throughout the day. Only a few minutes of your time engaging in conversation with your employees can go a long way in driving engagement and achieving business goals.

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.