Caught in the Engagement Survey Spin Cycle?

Move From Fruitless Manager Action Plans to Real Solutions

By Sherri Merbach Managing Director, C-Suite Analytics | March 12, 2017

Employee engagement in the U.S. is a mess. Gallup tells us only 32% of our employees are engaged, and that figure has hardly budged over 15 years. Worse, Deloitte says we are about to spend $1.53 billion a year to “fix” it. Unless we get smarter, we’ll be flushing that fortune instead of fixing.

It gets worse. Again according to Gallup, those remaining 68% are either sleepwalking or sabotaging. So unless your company is different, two-thirds of your employees aren’t giving their all. One has to wonder: How much better would our economy be if we solved employee engagement? What if we found the turnkey solution to getting our employees to work their best?

It’s time we took a hard look in the mirror and stop blaming disengagement on low wages or video games. The problem is we are all playing follow the leader, doing what other companies do and expecting better results. Let’s start with some heavily-researched truths.

Employee Surveys Don’t Solve Anything

Engagement surveys and exit surveys provide data but don’t give us solutions. Left on our own, we decide that the super-fix to more recognition is employee appreciation week so we bring in food and a dunk tank. Or we name an employee of the month which irritates the others who really know who pulls the work. For engagement, no one is accountable to make their scores better…and few companies actually set a goal. They are pleased instead to beat last year’s score or beat the benchmark. Beating a benchmark in this case means scoring a hair better than mediocre, against competition that’s as baffled as we are for a true fix.

Exit Surveys are worse. We’ve surveyed 8,300 HR execs on whether their exit surveys have made their companies better. Twenty said yes for a winning percentage of .0024. There is now a book that advises to never tell the truth during exit surveys, to say instead you needed a career change. In fact the most popular answer on exit surveys is “better opportunity”. What the heck does that mean? And how do we fix it?

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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.