Employee Engagement: How to use recognition and non-monetary rewards to drive employee engagement

By Justin Sun Compensation Analyst, Lockheed Martin | March 11, 2012

In today's market where rewarding staff with salary increases and bonuses may be difficult to come by, the use of non-monetary rewards to drive engagement is no longer just an optional or nice thing to do. One of the most common nonfinancial rewards is recognition, and you can experience a high return on investment in the use of this simple, yet powerful reward through increased guest satisfaction ratings and loyalty.

But what does recognition actually have to do with the bottom line? A model that demonstrates the importance of recognition's role in driving financial performance is the service profit-chain. Developed by a group of Harvard University researchers in the nineties, the service profit-chain claims that a direct link exists between top service experiences, customer loyalty, and profit. Research shows that low employee turnover, due to high engagement, is correlated with high customer satisfaction and that a culture focused on showing genuine care for both customers and fellow employees is one of the highest drivers of engagement.

Furthermore, a recent study by MarketTools Inc. for Globoforce confirms that a lack of sincere recognition provided to employees is a leading cause of turnover. The study identifies a solid correlation between the level of recognition delivered by managers and the loyalty of their direct reports.
Thus, the effort that managers invest in getting to know their employees and the motivators that drive them to go above and beyond in their performance can translate into a dramatic increase in guest satisfaction scores and loyalty.

To illustrate, let's take as an example a top-performing front desk agent in your hotel who is having a difficult week due to a personal issue outside of work. Being aware of the trauma that this employee is dealing with, you could offer her the option of working a more flexible schedule, at least temporarily, to show that you are concerned about her personal needs. Catering to this employee's needs outside of the workplace is one way in which you could show her your appreciation for her continuous commitment to exceptional guest service and enhance her motivation level in doing so.

Managers need to take the time to get to know their employees and what makes them tick in the same way that they seek to learn more about their guests' preferences. By becoming more aware of what incentives-from a flexible working schedule to gift cards-are most meaningful to your employees, you can ensure that you obtain the greatest return on investment through your nonfinancial rewards. In an environment as mentally and physically stressful as a hotel, a simple effort to show real care and concern for your employees can have a dramatic impact on how they treat your guests.

If you want your employees to smile sincerely at guests and to greet each of them by name, you should demonstrate this behavior by smiling and greeting your own employees by name. If you want employees to engage in conversation with guests about how their day is going, you can encourage this behavior by showing a sincere desire to know how your employees are doing throughout the day. Only a few minutes of your time engaging in conversation with your employees can go a long way in driving engagement and achieving business goals.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.