Is April the New January Staff Turnover?

By Zoe Connolly Co-Founder & Managing Director, Hospitality Spotlight | April 16, 2017

Traditionally, hotels were most exposed to staff turnover in January, a timeframe directly after the holiday season had ended and corresponding holiday bonuses had been paid out. Today however, as many large hotels report their annual earnings in March, the timeline has shifted, and hotel leaders find themselves facing uncertain employee retention issues as we enter the second quarter of the year.

This happens for a few different reasons. In some cases, this happens because employees tend to hang on to roles until directly after a large bonus (this is standard across a variety of industries). In others, it has to do with employees feeling the stress that can come with earnings season (leadership in large hotels often neglects to explain how a bad financial quarter may not actually be the end of the world). Regardless, this new timeline is creating headaches and opportunities alike, for small and large hotels as well as employees.

For Large Hotels

It's important for leaders at large hotels to understand turnover begets turnover, and can dramatically impact their staff. When a well-liked (or well-respected) employee leaves for a new opportunity, it's common for other to follow their lead, leaving hotels exposed on a variety of fronts:

  • Hiring and training replacements takes time. While a two-week notice is typical in the industry, it's virtually never enough time to adequately find and instruct new hires. With multiple departures, this impact is magnified dramatically, as there are less 'veterans' available to pick up the slack while new hires are being integrated.

  • Staff morale can be greatly diminished during times of turnover. When co-workers are leaving, it can often feel like "work families" are being broken up. Beyond productivity, the emotional toll caused by staff turnover can hinder guest experiences. After all, a staff full of unhappy employees is unlikely to exceed their guest expectations.
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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.