Over the past few months, we’ve blogged a bit about how to use social media and online review sites to help increase customer engagement and advocacy. While social media plays an important part in engaging your guests, as you know, it’s the direct interaction between staff and customers that is at the heart of gaining satisfied, loyal guests.
Positive interactions between your employees and customers are a result of how well your employees are engaged with your business; if your staff are motivated, they’ll go above and beyond to provide the kind of service that brings guests back. In fact, Bob Kelleher, President and Founder of The Employee Engagement Group, insightfully asserted in a HotelExecutive.com article that a hotel’s employees, not customers, should be their #1 priority. It’s a bold statement that makes a lot of sense when you consider the negative effect unmotivated, disengaged employees have on customer service and satisfaction.
With a brand-new year ahead of us, now’s a good time to focus on truly engaging our staff.
Kelleher defines employee engagement as the mutual commitment between employer and employee; the employer is committed to unlocking the potential of their staff, and staff are committed to helping the business succeed.
Engaged employees are not only satisfied, but motivated in their job — in short, employees that are prepared to go above and beyond. Increasing employee engagement is not just about offering perks and bonus cheques, it’s about nurturing and sustaining commitment and motivation. Here’s how:
Foster a Learning Culture
Training should be ongoing. Make sure all staff members are adequately trained for their role and revisit the training program to brush up on skills and procedures. Adequate, ongoing training gives employees the confidence they need to perform their jobs well. For example, all staff should be aware of and comfortable with the protocol for dealing with customer complaints. Consider role playing various situations with your staff as practice. Give frequent feedback, both constructive and positive.
Align Individual Goals with Company Goals
Most employees want to be a part of something meaningful, so share your company’s goals with your staff and ensure they know how their specific role contributes to your business’ performance and success. Create accountability by setting expectations and measuring individual performance. Expect excellence from your staff and give them recognition when they are performing well so they’ll be more inclined to keep doing it. Employees that strive for high performance are innovative — encourage this; employee innovation not only improves processes but is great for staff morale and sense of achievement too.
Share the Numbers
Let your staff know how business is doing, and how their performance is contributing to that. Keeping employees informed by sharing numbers with them helps to increase their sense of ownership and breeds trust. Be open about areas in which there’s room for improvement too, and invite suggestions from your staff on how to improve them.
Create a Strong Team Environment
A strong team environment is especially important in hospitality where all roles, from front desk to housekeeping, need to coordinate with each other. So it’s very helpful if everyone gets along. Try to be aware of your team’s chemistry and boost interaction with non-work activities that build relationships and a sense of belonging. Encourage open communication and problem-solving as a team. Let staff tell their own stories—about how they dealt with a tricky situation, their concerns and suggestions, or a rewarding moment. Listen.
Provide the Tools Staff Need to Do Their Job Well
Whether it’s painfully slow front desk software or a vacuum cleaner that just doesn’t suck, there’s nothing more frustrating than working with inefficient tools that waste your time and prevent you from doing your job effectively. If you expect optimal performance from your staff, you need optimal performance from your systems too. Make sure your staff have the tools they need to perform at their best.