Five Easy Steps to Make Your Staff Feel Secure in an Unstable Economy

By John Ely Senior Vice President of Marketing, Signature Worldwide | November 30, 1999

With all of this negativity buzzing around, you can be certain that it somehow affects your employees and staff. In fact, the top fear for many people during economic downturns is loss of a job. No matter how confident and comfortable your staff may seem, and no matter how certain you are that their jobs are secure, they are probably still concerned. And, rightfully so, since the unemployment rate in the United States hit a 14-year high in November 2008. Combined with the bleak outlook for the first three quarters of 2009, and money spent and debt incurred over the holiday season, your staff is probably feeling more stress than ever.

Helping your staff understand they are making a difference in your business gives them a sense of job security. Training and encouragement will empower your employees and make them feel like an important part of the team, even during a less-than-stable economy.

In a past job, I was in the unenviable position of knowing my company might be facing work slow-downs or even worse, a series of layoffs. My supervisor spoke to all of the department managers and let us know how important our roles were for the company's survival. In turn, we stepped up our efforts to be more efficient and pay even closer attention to quality and customer satisfaction.

By doing this, the manager accomplished several things. He made us feel more secure about our jobs and the company in general. This had a huge impact on our performance since we knew what we did would have a direct result on the company. He also instilled a feeling that the company needed our talent and skills to not only be more competitive, but to simply survive. He made sure we all understood how our roles fit into the ultimate corporate strategy and we felt a greater sense of loyalty as a result. Nothing brings people together like a common enemy, and the current economic crisis is a danger to us all.

Even though my colleagues and I were facing some lean times, we felt more energized as a group that was working together to overcome the economic struggles. All of this led to better interaction among employees and better communication with our clients.

So how do you settle the mounting fears of your team during these uncertain and challenging times? Following are five easy ways to start calming the crew:

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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.