What Hotels Can Learn From Award-Winning Hospitals

By Joyce Gioia CEO, Employer of Choice International, Inc. | April 10, 2011

There are many types of recognition for employers to strive to achieve. Among the most difficult to earn is The Employer of Choice® Award. This challenging designation is awarded to public, private, or nonprofit employers that demonstrate effective implementation of best practices in attracting, developing, and retaining outstanding people. This distinction places employers in an elite group of only 29 organizations total from across the country that have ever earned the distinction.

Create a "Safe Place" for Open Discussion

One of the leading healthcare organizations in Illinois, Memorial Health System of Springfield (MHS) is a community-based, not-for-profit, operating three hospitals, out-patient facilities, and dozens of physician practices in the area.

To accomplish its goal of reforming their culture, MHS developed "The Great Place to Work Shop", a weekly forum for leaders. The purpose was to provide a structured opportunity for them to examine survey results, interact and strategize, and receive training focused on best practices in leadership. They focused on and discussed different topics each week. Professionals from the "people division" were always available to meet one-on-one with leaders to further explore specific issues and challenges facing their departments.

The reasons for success of The Great Place to Work Shop are twofold: MHS created the workshops as "safe zones". Whatever people discussed in the work shop stayed in the workshop; leaders felt safe talking about their challenges and sharing ideas, insights, and suggestions with each other.

Second, while leaders were taught how to use the survey results to make changes, they were encouraged not to own the process. Since the survey results unveiled each department's view of employee engagement, they wanted each and every employee in that department to own their results. Moreover, MHS wanted the front-line employees to share their voice on what could/should be done to improve the situation. Working together, department leaders and their staffs embraced the need to develop and implement their own departmental plans to improve employee engagement.

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Coming up in April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. 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.