Succession Planning in Volatile Times

How prepared are you to retain your work force in these volatile times?

By S. Lakshmi Narasimhan Founder, Ignite Insight LLC | September 02, 2018

One of the most common challenges faced by a hospitality organization is that of maintaining a steady work force to perform all the services offered by them. In other words, ensuring that employee turnover is kept to the minimum is a paramount target for organizations. While the phenomenon of attrition, as it is known in the industry cannot be avoided, retaining employees for as long as possible is key. Attrition is simply the natural process of an employee coming into the company and another leaving. This is unavoidable. But in general, companies aim to keep most of the work force happy and motivated.

Employee turnover is a highly disruptive phenomenon. It strikes at the culture of the company and motivation of the employees themselves. Hotel companies by the nature of their business, hire a major complement of their employees in rank and file positions or what are known as line positions. This is particularly so in the restaurants and housekeeping departments of a hotel. Keeping this chunk of the work force which happens to be at lower levels of the hierarchy happy and motivated will mean consistent levels of service to customers. Nothing is more challenging to a hotel enterprise than the constant movement in and out of employees due to turnover. It disrupts service levels, erodes brand standards, demotivates existing employees and worst of all annoys the customer. It is a surefire way to lose business and erode profitability.

Succession Planning

How do hospitality organizations tackle the issue of employee turnover? One of the most powerful approaches to mitigating employee turnover is a strategic succession planning process in place. What is succession planning?

Succession Planning is a strategy which aims to pre-empt movement in employees and address any perceived grievances even before they have a chance to get entrenched. Succession Planning could be considered a big part of what is commonly known as Career Planning for employees. It is a process which by being strategic is a long-term measure to consistently address employee welfare, growth and development. So, what does this strategic process entail?


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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.