Addressing the Challenge of Sustaining a Strong Service Culture in the Hospitality Industry
By Rick Garlick Vice President, Strategy Consultant, Magid | March 31, 2013
The 2012 J.D Power hotel syndicated study showed a decline in guest satisfaction across all hotel tiers. Specifically, the 'people' factor rating has plummeted in the past two years, reaching an all-time low. Yet, guest service is at the core of the hospitality industry. Certainly, staffing cuts contribute to this perceived decline in service across the industry. But is there something even more critical to explaining these downturns?
A recent study by Maritz, a leading performance improvement company, examined the employee-customer link within the hospitality sector. A component of this study addressed employee engagement, which is most commonly defined as the attitudes employees hold toward their jobs, supervisors, co-workers, and leadership. While everyone agrees that the motivation, energy, and positivity one brings to the workplace will significantly impact the delivery of guest service, when you put a motivated employee into a dysfunctional system, the system will always triumph.
Therefore, it is important to look at more than how much an employee wants to do well. A frequently overlooked area of exploration is service climate, or the degree to which the larger corporate culture supports the delivery of excellent guest service.
The Maritz study surveyed 1000 full time working Americans employed in the broadly defined 'hospitality' sector, which included hotels, restaurants, rental cars, airlines, and gaming organizations. The study reinforced the general perception that trust in management is quite weak. Some particularly noteworthy findings include the following:
With so little connection to management, it is difficult to imagine these employees getting behind their management's goals. In these situations, employees tend to look out for their own interests first, and will do whatever it takes to survive on the job, regardless of whether it is in the best interests of their employer or their customers.