Successfully Managing Today's Shorter-Term Hotel Workforce

By Cara Silletto Founder, Crescendo Strategies | March 25, 2018

An imminent danger is threatening many companies and their future profitability: short-term workers. Unfortunately, the decrease in average tenure of today's workforce cannot be avoided completely. But fortunately, it is a situation leaders can prepare for and manage successfully, mitigating much of the long-term risk to the organization and its bottom line.

While many blame Millennial workers (born 1981-2000) for their lack of traditional loyalty, a perfect storm situation has caused the revolving door of turnover to speed up over the last decade, including a competitive market for talent and the lack of loyalty from both employers and employees.

The Perfect Storm of Staffing Instability

First, everyone is hiring – inside and outside the hospitality industry. Since the recession lifted, we have remained in an employees' market where applicants and staff have an advantage over employers. They know everyone else in the area is also looking for talent, so if they are unhappy with their schedule, their uniform, or their boss, they are likely to walk away.

Additionally, most companies have cut long-term benefits such as pensions, and there is no guarantee of long-term employment when everyone knows layoffs occur to combat the competitive hotel environment. Employees know their loyalty will mean nothing if the company needs to downsize, so why should the company expect loyalty to go in the other direction either?

So, what should organizations do about it? Plan for shorter-term workers, extend their tenure as much as possible, and maximize the time you have with each worker. More specifically:

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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.