Aug 09, 2016

Happy Workers, Happy Customers: Leveraging employee engagement in the hospitality industry

It’s a lucrative time to be in the hospitality business. Last year, travelers spent almost $950 billion in the U.S. – around 20 percent of which went to hotels, resorts and other lodging companies alone. The tourism bubble shouldn’t burst any time soon either. The volume of travelers to and within the States is expected to climb consistently over the next four years. This increase in customers places more pressure on businesses to elevate their customer experience game.

In order to successfully compete for tourists’ dollars, hospitality employers have to overcome two fundamental hurdles: staffing and service. With a comprehensive employee engagement solution, businesses can tackle both.

Alleviating hospitality managers’ shift and staff retention headaches

For years, hotels, casinos and other hospitality employers have struggled to scale their staffing levels to match volatile Banquet and Catering demands. Although traditional workforce management (WFM) technology can help managers anticipate some trends (e.g., seasonal activity and time-of-day peaks), events like reunions, conferences and tournaments quickly upend the best laid scheduling plans.
Employers must have not only the right amount of people on staff at any given moment, but talented people with superior customer service chops to provide an unforgettable guest experience. In the high-turnover hospitality sector, holding on to key employees has long eluded managers. Erratic scheduling and a lack of communication between corporate leaders and frontline workers have only compounded employers’ talent retention struggle.

Neither of these issues can be solved in a c-suite or middle manager silo. To infuse balance into hospitality scheduling and develop a loyal, capable staff, employers need a way to engage hourly employees individually – making them an active part of day-to-day decision-making and long-term wins. With a digital employee engagement solution – that picks up where most WFM tools leave off – hospitality brands can alleviate these pain points in tandem.

Here are three ways employee engagement technology can benefit hospitality employers (and their customers):

  • (Finally) achieve schedule balance: When event needs change at a moment’s notice, hospitality managers (whether they rely on manual processes or scheduling tools) often can’t escape the errors that lead to under and overstaffing. Neither outcome is ideal: overstaffing wastes labor spend and leaves superfluous employees with little to do. On the other hand, understaffing leads to overworked associates who can’t devote their full attention to accommodating guests. With frontline-facing employee engagement solution, managers can easily broadcast available shifts and allow employees to opt-in to last minute work and to self-manage their schedules. By giving employees’ a voice in the scheduling process, managers can improve employee happiness and work-life balance and better respond to fluctuating labor needs, even during hectic weeks.
  • Reduce overtime costs: Another byproduct of understaffing (and manual scheduling processes) is overtime. With the U.S. overtime pay threshold officially increasing from $23,660 to $47,476 this December, hospitality employers in particular need a new strategy for mitigating these avoidable payroll expenses. Typically, managers are the people clocking additional hours to take care of administrative tasks – shift management chief among them. Employee engagement tools expedite each step of the scheduling process (from shift creation to swaps), reducing the need for expensive manager overtime hours and keeping payroll low.
  • Minimize staff attrition: This April, turnover rates in the U.S. leisure and hospitality sector sat at six percent – one of the highest across all industries. And with the sector adding almost 60,000 jobs in June alone, dissatisfied workers have little reason not to seek greener pastures elsewhere. For employees to stick with your company for the long haul, they need to feel like their employer is equally invested in them. The right employee engagement technology can give employers a platform to demonstrate that investment in multiple ways, be it recognition from the corporate office for doing great work; a direct way for hourly employees to important company information and timely updates; allowing employees to more easily provide direct feedback; or ongoing, interactive and measurable training opportunities. The longer hospitality companies hold onto employees, the more experienced their workforce becomes – helping ensure consistent, high quality customer service.

To capitalize on the multitude of business opportunities up for grabs in today’s hospitality industry, brands need to deliver unmatched service. Great service, however, starts with having a well trained, empowered staff. Employers that take a thoughtful, technology-based approach to employee engagement are most likely to set the tone for happy employees and happy customers.

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