Using Employee Feedback to Boost Standards and Morale
By Jesse Boles Executive Director of Operations, FreemanGroup | June 17, 2012
With so much of our attention turned to social media, sites like TripAdvisor, and the myriad of other ways that a business can now communicate with its audience, it can be easy to overlook one of the best sources of information we have on the health of our business: our employees.
As leaders, we should be listening to our employees as much as we listen to our guests. It is easy to say that your door is always open; it is quite another thing to establish a relationship with employees that makes them feel comfortable enough to come to you with problems, suggestions, and feedback they are receiving directly from guests as active members of your front line. Remember: Your front-line staff is directly responsible for ensuring guest satisfaction. To establish trust and get a true understanding of what's happening out on the floor, you have to be willing to keep the conversation with employees going.
In addition to engaging in ongoing verbal communications, we should remain vigilant in our observations and take into consideration the non-verbal cues our employees are giving us. How comfortable, confident, and satisfied do your employees appear to be? How would you characterize their body language and facial expressions? Does their outward appearance reflect that they take pride in their work? Do they exhibit a desire to represent your hotel well? Observations help us take the temperature of our team and give us an opportunity to deal with people as individuals and address unique situations on the spot.
To augment your conversations and observations, perform employee surveys. Employee surveys, like guest surveys, can be incredibly instructive and provide us with valuable information regarding the levels of service we are providing. They let you know the drivers that are keeping job satisfaction high or low, keeping staff motivated or causing them to just go through the motions, and the things that are making them uncomfortable and increasing turnover. They are tools that can help you learn which incentives are working and what you need to do to take action against root causes of dissatisfaction.
Employee surveys can also reveal whether certain hotel standards are antiquated or irrelevant. While there will always be cases in which what is convenient for staff will not be in line with what the guest wants, as long as you don't adapt standards in a way that makes employees happy, but compromises guest service, making changes based on employee feedback can improve efficiency levels, reduce costs, and enhance the guest experience. By giving your employees an opportunity to be heard through employee surveys, you can learn a great deal about specific inefficiencies, missing resources, duplicated efforts, and other things that are hindering staff members' abilities to meet the standards and having a negative impact on the guest experience.
How easy or painful it is for you to adapt or update your hotel's standards will depend a great deal upon how your organization manages and embraces change. If, as an organization, you make frequent tweaks to processes and operations, altering standards shouldn't give team members much reason to pause or view new training initiatives with an unhealthy degree of skepticism.