Building Your Green Team on a Budget

By Rani Bhattacharyya Community Economics Extension Educator , University of Minnesota Extension- Center for Community Vitality | May 22, 2011

In an industry that prides itself on customer service and sensitivity to the needs of guests, the ability of lodging properties to maintain a high level of quality in their services and operations is routinely undermined by the high rates of turnover and burnout of their employees. As a means of understanding how to limit this drain on your resources, this article will: 1) highlight a few of the current factors affecting employee motivation, 2) simple ways that facility managers can address these needs, and 3) how implementing an performance reporting process throughout your property can be used as a tool to retain and benefit from the skills and specialized knowledge of your staff.

Why Employees Take Flight

In their survey of highly educated employees Blomme, Tromp, and Rheede (2010) found evidence that suggests the primary driver behind hospitality's high turnover rate is difficulty on the part of employers to address the intrinsic expectations that employees hope their jobs can fulfill. While these expectations are not written into contracts, they still play a significant role in motivating people to choose particular career paths. The three main themes that the study found in employee expectations are briefly discussed below.

Job Content and Skill Mastery

When seeking out new employment opportunities, many people seek out positions where they will be able to acquire new skills and apply these skills to the benefit of both their employer and industry. This set of expectations feeds into an employee's sense of value to society as well as their potential future investment in helping to maintain the quality of services being delivered at your property. By accurately matching your employee's skills and interests to the needs of your facility, you provide your employees a very strong incentive to deepen their own commitment to their current duties, which in turn can increase their emotional commitment to your brand.

The Desire to Transform Challenges into Growth

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.