A New Model for Global Employee Engagement

By Kimberly Abel-Lanier Vice President & General Manager Workforce Solutions, Maritz Motivation Solutions | March 19, 2017

Engaging and retaining talented, trained workers is a critical component of success for any business in any sector. When employees are disengaged or turnover is high, organizations face challenges of subpar customer service, high costs, and human resource inefficiencies. Gallup estimates rampant disengagement among employees costs American businesses between $450 billion and $550 billion per year. High turnover also carries exorbitant costs to organizations, averaging approximately 1.5x an employee’s salary for replacement.

The State of Turnover and Engagement in Hospitality

In the hospitality sector, delivery of impactful customer experiences is strongly connected to employee engagement and satisfaction. Happy, engaged employees can make happy, loyal customers. Currently; however, the hospitality sector suffers higher than average employee turnover. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover (JOLTS) data, turnover in the hospitality sector grew by 10 percentage points from 56.6 percent in 2010 to 66.3 percent in 2014, compared to a 44.4 percent average across all private sector workers.(1)

Turnover is also inextricably linked to engagement, with increasing engagement serving as one of the most effective strategies to reducing churn. Analyst firm Bersin by Deloitte reported companies with programs to effectively address employee engagement saw 31 percent lower voluntary turnover.(2) That makes sense, since the number one reason employees cite for leaving their jobs, according to Gallup, is feeling unappreciated.

Understanding the impact of engagement on hospitality service and performance is a sound place to start in reducing turnover and tapping into the discretionary effort that leads to exceptional, memorable customer experiences. When employees are engaged, they are more likely to have positive opinions are their work and higher job satisfaction, which can increase loyalty and performance.

A New Model for Global Engagement

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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.