Tapping Into Your Team's Talent and Keeping Them Motivated

By Michael Haynie, SR. President, Parkway Hospitality Management | June 05, 2011

Tapping into the talent of employees and keeping them motivated are two of the most important challenges that hotel management professionals face. The public has many choices of where to spend their travel dollars and the quality of service can have a significant impact. Poor attitudes or inattention to detail can make the difference between a guest becoming a repeat visitor or trashing your hotel on travel websites and to their friends. Having a great staff is not as simple as hiring great people – of course that is part of it, but hotel management must also tap into their team's talents in strategic and creative ways in order to bring out the best in their team and keep them motivated to perform day in and day out.

First off, hotel management needs to look at creative ways to attract top talent, as there is no substitute for a quality team. One effective way of attracting recruits is through the use of social media. Posting job openings on your Facebook page and Twitter feed is a good way to attract candidates who are interested in our industry. Young graduates are increasingly turning to social media in their job searches. Depending on the position you are hiring for you may want to use social media to your advantage and see what you can learn about the candidate prior to an interview.

Employee Referral programs are also an excellent way to attract strong hires while also boosting morale within your organization. The premise of employee referral programs is that current employees are given a bonus if a person they refer to the company for employment is hired. Studies have shown that a well-designed employee referral program can produce over 70% of hires, and these hires are statistically proven to have a lower rate of attrition. This benefits everyone, as you will get talent that your quality team members have essentially endorsed and the referring employee receives a monetary bonus, which creates a positive perception of your company and builds good will with that employee.

Once you have top talent in the door it is absolutely essential they stay motivated. One in-house program that my team uses to motivate staff is Spot a Star. This program allows us to identify and recognize deserving candidates from within our organization. Our associates carry printed cards to hand out when they notice someone going above and beyond the call of duty on their own time. These associates are then identified for promotion within the organization. By rewarding our current employees and recognizing their hard work, we are able to provide them with job satisfaction and motivate them to exceed expectations.

Peer recognition and financial incentives are certainly motivators, which entice employees to shine. One strategy that we have found to be successful over the years it to identify and honor employees who are going over and above the minimum requirements for their position and representing the hotel in a positive fashion to guests. It is equally important for hotel management to have predetermined criteria, which they use to assess performance, as it is for employees to be aware that hard work and a positive attitude are rewarded. Employees who management selects to recognize are rewarded at quarterly Employee Recognition & Awards celebrations, where we award these employees of the cash prizes and plaques. The agenda for these meetings always includes games and contests among the departments. As word of the program spreads, other employees will want to know how they can be recognized and will strive to do their best to earn recognition.

On a day-to-day basis it is not necessary to reward employees with money or prizes. Management should simply go out of their way to recognize the good job they are doing and the hard work they are putting in. Give out "Thanks a million" cards, or an "I Get It, I Got It" button. These programs are instant recognitions awards for those who have been observed "doing it right."

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Coming up in January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.