Strategies For Engaging Employees in Hospitality
In today’s highly competitive hospitality talent market, engaging employees can make or break your business. An engaging environment is capable of inspiring, motivating, and delighting your team plus has a huge range of potential benefits.
Investing in engagement is a good way to show candidates you can put their needs first.
However, engaging employees isn’t just valuable for attracting new talent; it’s also critical to retaining the staff members you already have.
The challenges of the last couple of years have pushed employees to re-assess their values, and many are switching jobs to seek higher levels of engagement and satisfaction. In the age of the “Great Resignation”, engagement strategies are how you convince top talent to stay put.
In this post you will learn:
- What Engaging Employees Means
- The Signs of a Disengaged Employee
- Six Steps To Creating an Engaging Culture
What Does Engaging Employees Mean?
The easiest way to define employee engagement is as the emotional commitment a staff member has to an organisation and its goals.
An “engaged” employee is passionate about their work, invested in the success of the brand, and happy with their position in the company.
According to research, employee engagement and productivity go hand-in-hand. Engaged employees are more likely to give their all in any task, and go above and beyond to benefit the company. They’re keen to prove themselves to their managers, and maintain their position with the business.
Other studies have shown employee engagement also leads to other positive business metrics, such as increased customer satisfaction, efficiency, innovation, and staff retention.
There are a number of factors which can prompt disengagement among hospitality team members. The process of disengagement can happen over several months or years, or it could be a quick response to a significant workplace issue.
One major issue in the hospitality landscape is the presence of burnout. Jobs for many staff members are leading to feelings of exhaustion and fatigue. One of the common symptoms of burnout is being disengaged in the workplace.
Other common causes of disengagement include poor management, lack of workplace relationships, poor communication, lack of progression, limited feedback and no sense of purpose.
On the other hand when you are engaging employees well, it’s easy to recognise the benefits. Productivity levels will soar, morale will improve, and you may notice you end up with happy customers too. However, it’s easier to miss the early signs of disengagement as they begin to develop.
Knowing how to identify a disengaged employee should ensure you can act rapidly to address the issue. Keep in mind, even if only one of your employees is disengaged, their negative attitude can end up affecting the entire workforce.
Signs of a Disengaged Employee
- Poor productivity: If you notice your hard-working employees are no longer delivering the same output, this is a clear sign of disengagement.
- Withdrawal: If a hospitality employee is disengaged in the workplace, they’re more likely to withdraw from the rest of the team.
- Absenteeism: When employees are disengaged, they may begin to spend more time away from work, calling in sick, or failing to follow a typical schedule. They may also take more breaks when they’re at work.
- Attitude changes: If an employee’s attitude or mood generally changes for the worse, this is usually a tell-tale sign of disengagement. They may be more argumentative or combative, or may simply appear unhappy and uninterested in their work.
- Lack of drive: Disengaged employees aren’t motivated. They stop trying to learn new things and avoid any new challenges. They may even actively avoid opportunities to develop themselves and grow.
If disengagement in the workplace goes on for too long, it can also lead to an increase in turnover. If your hospitality employees start consistently looking for new work, or start adding their CV’s on job sites, this is a clear sign their engagement levels are suffering.
6 Steps to Building an Engaged Culture
Creating a culture capable of engaging employees today requires a much heavier focus on humanising the workplace. Companies need to focus on empathy, wellbeing, and flexibility, to both appeal to new employees, and retain their existing staff.
Here are some of the best ways to build a culture of engagement in your hospitality business.
1. Focus on Effective Communication
According to Accenture’s research into disengaged employees, one of the most common reasons engagement drops in a business, is because employees feel leaders don’t listen to their needs. A lack of communication in the workplace harms everything from feelings of trust and transparency to employee satisfaction levels.
Building a strategy for consistent and positive communication with your hospitality employees ensures you can keep your finger on the pulse of their experiences and expectations. It’s an excellent way to find out what’s bothering your team members, and where sources of disengagement may begin.
You can start by developing a system which makes it easy for staff members to share their feedback about the business experience anonymously. Allowing team members to make comments without the fear of judgement should ensure you can capture more authentic insights.
It’s also worth ensuring employees always have someone to turn to when they have questions about the expectations of the business, or their role. An open-door policy can lead to a more trusting and connected community of team members.
Leaders in the hospitality space can even send out regular surveys, or questionnaires to ask their staff members how they feel about their role, and what they believe they need to perform at their best.
Aside from improving communication between employees and leaders, it’s also worth making sure your staff members have multiple ways to connect and build relationships.
Host regular meetings where you can discuss changes in the business, or simply promote bonding between colleagues.
2. Prioritise Feedback and Recognition
Feedback is important for any hospitality staff member to ensure they can continue serving the best interests of the company. Even negative feedback can be a good way to set expectations for team members, and help them to avoid common mistakes.
Developing a strategy for consistent feedback for staff members can help to create a sense of transparency and continued growth among teams.
The most important form of feedback to focus on for most hospitality businesses will be positive recognition. Around 72% of business leaders say recognition has a significant influence on employee engagement. Yet countless employees feel as though they don’t get enough thanks for their work.
Showing recognition to your team members is important. For instance if they accomplish something, recognition is an excellent way to boost their sense of “meaning” in the workplace. A simple “Thank you” verbally or text message can be enough. This small act can motivate staff members to continue working towards their goals.
Some companies even go a step further, and implement gamification techniques to encourage positive competition between employees. Awarding prizes/gifts to staff who achieve good results is a great way to get everyone invested in their work.
Rewards don’t necessarily need to be monetary either. Some employees will appreciate being given the option of an afternoon off as a reward, or the opportunity to take part in an important business project.
3. Start Focusing on Wellbeing
Today’s hospitality talent want to work for a company that cares about their needs. Improving health and wellbeing strategies in the workplace demonstrates you care about their continued wellness.
According to the CIPD’s Health and Wellbeing at work report, implementing wellbeing initiatives leads to a healthier, more inclusive culture in the workplace. As well as better employee morale and engagement. However, many companies still consider wellbeing a “nice-to-have” element, rather than a necessity for happy employees.
Focusing on wellbeing not only improves engagement, but also reduces levels of absenteeism and lost productivity in the workplace. In hospitality it is common for employees to suffer from increased levels of stress and anxiety. These are some of the main causes of long-term absences and burnout.
Implementing wellbeing initiatives, demonstrates a level of empathy and reduces the number of people you lose to illness. Wellness programs can include:
- Mental health days. Days where maybe they have less pressure that day or finish or start a little earlier.
- Mental and physical health support. For instance, you could hire a counsellor to talk to your hospitality staff once a month.
- Work/life balance strategies. For example, allowing team members to change their working hours according to their needs, or decide where they want to work each day.
4. Implement Flexible Working Opportunities
Offering flexible working options to your employees is an excellent way to get them more invested in their roles. Staff members with the ability to work from home are often more satisfied and productive. What’s more, Gallup studies show flexible work also drives engagement, making team members feel more enthusiastic about their jobs.
While it is more of a challenge to offer flexibility within hospitality, there are multiple ways you can experiment with flexibility. For instance, you could:
- Time off in lieu: Employees agree with managers to take leave at a mutually convenient time to make up for extra hours worked. Particularly when an employee has covered for someone being off or sick.
- Explore a shorter working week: It allows employees to work their total number of agreed hours over a shorter number of working days.
- Allow for schedule changes: Allowing employees to work different hours on specific days based on their other commitments can make them more grateful to the business.
Speaking to team members about the kinds of flexibility they might like to see in the workplace is a great way to start planning on a new strategy. You can also track the results of your flexibility efforts to see which are paying off for your company.
5. Engaging Employees Through Employee Development
92% of employees believe access to personal development is very important when they’re deciding where to work. What’s more, employees with development opportunities are 15% more engaged at work. They are also 34% more likely to stay with the business.
According to a study by LinkedIn, 94% of employees said they would even stay with a business for longer if they knew there were opportunities for development in place. Building a culture which champions growth, learning, and opportunities is an excellent way to ensure engagement.
There are a few ways companies can adjust their culture to focus on development, such as:
- Setting goals with employees: Arranging meetings to discuss employee goals is a fantastic way to find out what your team members want to achieve. This helps achieve their goals, improves workplace relationships, and staff to feel more committed to their role and the business.
- Offering training opportunities: Training is something every hospitality business should be investing in. Particularly now as the workplace continues to change at a record rate. It’s important to upskill and re-skill staff on a regular basis. Finding out what your team members want to learn and offering the right training solutions for that is crucial.
- Providing mentorship programs: Mentorship programs are excellent encouraging a culture of learning and boosting employee relationships. Allowing team members to choose a mentor to support their development plan will build a happier, more engaged culture.
6. Let Team Members in on the Big Picture
Transparency and honesty have become major factors in any employee’s decision of where to work, and whether to continue working with certain brands. A common complaint among employees in the hospitality space is they don’t always know what’s going on over their heads.
Not knowing the strategy and direction of the business can lead to concerns about job stability and future growth. It could also mean employees don’t know which values they should be focusing on to prove themselves to their employers.
Creating a culture of “transparency” is critical. Keep team members in the loop about major decisions your making is an excellent way to encourage staff buy-in. When employees know what’s happening in their business, they’re more likely to feel like an important part of the team.
It’s also worth looking for ways to connect the work of your hospitality employees to the bigger picture. Helping team members to see how their efforts influence the business can help to improve motivation levels.
Continuing to keep engaging employees through the strategies above will give you a happy, productive hospitality workforce. This isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it process. It’s not enough to simply implement the strategies above and then ignore engagement again. It has to keep evolving.
As you continue to work on your engagement methods, ensure your efforts shine through in your recruitment strategy.
Highlighting the strategies you use to engage and support your employees when working with a hospitality recruitment partner can make it easier for them to attract the right talent to your team.
If you would like to find out how KSB Hospitality and Catering Recruitment Agency help our clients recruit call us on 0121 314 9365 or click the link below.
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