Ensuring Your Hire Won't Ruin Your Culture

By Zoe Connolly Co-Founder & Managing Director, Hospitality Spotlight | December 25, 2016

Corporate culture is critical to ensuring that the experience guests actually receive is representative of the experience that hotel leadership hopes to portray. Culture can be affected in any number of ways, from management implementing employee appreciation programs to maintain top talent, through far less formal interactions like a couple of workers putting together a plan to ensure there’s coffee to start a shift together. It can be augmented, strengthened, improved, measured, and yes; culture can be ruined.

In fact, ruining corporate culture at a property or across a region can happen far more quickly than one might expect, and all it takes is a single bad apple.

Astoundingly, recent data points to the idea that a single toxic employee can ruin an entire corporate culture. In fact, the average toxic employee can cost a company more than $12,000. This number does not include efficiencies that can be garnered by keeping the right team in place. And naturally, turnover rate increases when there is a toxic employee in the mix.

As a hiring manager, you’ve taken the time to review resumes, meet candidates, negotiate benefits and salary and finally on-boarded a new employee. This last piece of the equation, onboarding, offer leadership the ability to ensure that one potential bad apple doesn’t ruin an entire batch.

The next few steps allow leadership to ensure that potentially great new talent doesn't ruin your culture:

  • Increase Leadership Engagement - As a management team, being both available
    and visible to your employees is a necessity. There is a well-intentioned,
    but ultimately misguided theory that having an open door policy is all
    that’s required. These policies are great, but don’t ensure that employees
    will come to talk. Leadership should ask questions and check in regularly,
    even when nothing is going on.
  • Take Stock with Those Involved in the Hiring Process - Management should
    connect with those employees that helped in the interview process and loved
    the candidate. While there is a risk of confirmation bias (that is, those
    who loved a candidate will seek to validate their initial feelings), it’s
    important that advocates for a recent hire are given an opportunity to feel
    validated. This is a great way to make team members feel more invested in a
    new hire, and can help more readily integrate this employee into the team
    and environment. The opposite of this is also true. It’s important for
    people who may feel as though their feelings were overruled in the hiring
    process be given an opportunity to be heard. So-called “bad apples” can be
    hired, as well as created. If you’ve got someone who’s empowered with hiring
    responsibilities, it should mean you trust their judgement. Be certain they
    feel appreciated, even if you went against their recommendation.
  • Speak to the Skeptics Too - As mentioned, bad apples can be created when an
    employee doesn’t feel heard. Going against a hiring recommendation happens
    regularly, but is a terrific way to inadvertently make an employee feel
    alienated. Leaders must meet with those employees that helped in the
    interview process and were skeptical about this new talent. Maybe they
    fought against the hire or they just didn't sign off. If they felt
    threatened or just dislike the person, they may still feel the same. Unless
    they've become friends or friendly, more than likely they still feel the
    same way. Make sure they aren't shutting this person out. If there's been a
    "check-in" talk and things stay the same randomly change schedules, groups or
    cubicles. There is a reason why teachers moved kids around back in
    elementary. The idea works. Make sure not to point anyone out.
  • Incorporate Team Building Events - Whether it is a catered working lunch or a
    grill set up outside the office for a BBQ, team building events let the
    employees know you care about them as individuals. In addition these events
    can encourage new hires or shy employees to become more involved in an
    organization’s corporate culture.
  • Keep Your Ears Open - More often than not, people usually just want to feel
    heard. Be certain to greet both formal opportunities for feedback (such as
    360 degree reviews) and informal chances for employees to make their opinion
    heard. Surveys where employees can offer a vote, small events and focus
    groups, and yes, team building events can enable a hotel’s employees to feel
    as though their voice is being heard.
  • Reward Your People - As we’ve discussed in previous columns, various employee
    engagement programs can range dramatically in size, scope and cost. One
    simple approach to maintaining and improving corporate culture is creating
    an award system where employees can provide recognition for their peers and
    colleagues. For this to work, it’s important to establish ground rules
    (this isn’t a popularity contest) and ensure that praise is spread
    throughout an organization (the same person shouldn’t be eligible to win
    more than a certain number of times per year). In an ideal situation, it’s
    best that any award is something that the employee can share, so it can turn
    into a team building event. However, if you’re looking to minimize costs,
    something as simple as a killer parking spot (and the bragging rights that
    go with it) can be effective.

In the early phases, of an employee relationship, the hope is that new hires will be trying to integrate into a company’s culture. Generally speaking, there will be a grace period with new employees, in which they’re actively trying to fit in. Depending on the culture, it can take a little longer than one might expect. Mega employer Walmart famously had an employee cheer before shifts… people have to go out of their comfort zones in order to get comfortable enough to support ‘rah-rah’ type things like this (poor introverts). If your culture has quirks, be sure to offer new employees some latitude as they find their way.

Coming up in January 2018...

Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.