Is April the New January Staff Turnover?

By Zoe Connolly Co-Founder & Managing Director, Hospitality Spotlight | April 16, 2017

Traditionally, hotels were most exposed to staff turnover in January, a timeframe directly after the holiday season had ended and corresponding holiday bonuses had been paid out. Today however, as many large hotels report their annual earnings in March, the timeline has shifted, and hotel leaders find themselves facing uncertain employee retention issues as we enter the second quarter of the year.

This happens for a few different reasons. In some cases, this happens because employees tend to hang on to roles until directly after a large bonus (this is standard across a variety of industries). In others, it has to do with employees feeling the stress that can come with earnings season (leadership in large hotels often neglects to explain how a bad financial quarter may not actually be the end of the world). Regardless, this new timeline is creating headaches and opportunities alike, for small and large hotels as well as employees.

For Large Hotels

It’s important for leaders at large hotels to understand turnover begets turnover, and can dramatically impact their staff. When a well-liked (or well-respected) employee leaves for a new opportunity, it’s common for other to follow their lead, leaving hotels exposed on a variety of fronts:

  • Hiring and training replacements takes time. While a two-week notice is typical in the industry, it’s virtually never enough time to adequately find and instruct new hires. With multiple departures, this impact is magnified dramatically, as there are less ‘veterans’ available to pick up the slack while new hires are being integrated.
  • Staff morale can be greatly diminished during times of turnover. When co-workers are leaving, it can often feel like “work families” are being broken up. Beyond productivity, the emotional toll caused by staff turnover can hinder guest experiences. After all, a staff full of unhappy employees is unlikely to exceed their guest expectations.

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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.