Employee Engagement: Mission Critical for Hotel Labor Productivity

By: Shana Shlaback, Engagement Product Manager, UniFocus


Employee engagement is an irreplaceable component of effective workforce performance. A happy, engaged team brings agility and adaptability to operations, improving productivity before you even begin efforts to optimize performance and efficiency.


Combining employee engagement with a disciplined approach to labor management gives operators a powerful competitive advantage that drives productivity and guests’ intent to return and recommend. Without an engaged workforce, even the most advanced labor management solutions and strategies will fail to fully optimize a property’s operations.


A Closer Look at Employee Engagement

Hospitality has always been and will always be a distinctly human industry, one where a warm smile and welcoming greeting from a staff member pays ongoing dividends for a hotelier.


An engaged employee is, however, much more than a smile and greeting. When a staff member is truly engaged, they are satisfied with their role in the organization. They feel well-equipped to handle their tasks and responsibilities, and have a clear sense of direction regarding their future. In short, an engaged worker feels valued as an individual who plays an essential role in the overall success of the hotel and is compelled to succeed for themselves, their team, and the entire hotel.


Employee engagement has been the focus of much attention in hospitality in recent years and for a very good reason. It’s a critical component of effectively converting strategy into action. Engagement also lowers costs by reducing turnover and maintaining a productive and satisfying culture.


An engaged workforce has nearly 25% lower turnover and more than 40% less absenteeism. The positive effect goes far beyond the most obvious benefits, however, by directly affecting productivity. An engaged workforce is more than 2.1x more likely to hit performance goals than a non-engaged one. Likewise, a satisfying employee experience results in 31% greater productivity and 37% higher sales.



Not surprisingly, these improvements lead to increases in guests’ intent to return, driving revenue, and profitability. Research shows that a mere 5% rise in engagement correlates to a 3% lift in revenue, and 10% greater engagement drives a 4% rise in the intent to return. All told, companies with an engaged staff realize 21% greater profitability than those without.


Engagement Starts With Feedback

The best insights on improving engagement levels come directly from team members themselves. Feedback is the key to checking that pulse but, as some hoteliers have already discovered, not all feedback is created equal.


Traditional feedback tools include such stalwarts as the annual employee survey. While these allow a property to delve more deeply into a broader set of issues, they require time-consuming analysis and only provide a momentary snapshot for an entire year. By the time HR gets staff to respond to the survey, analyzes the results, and presents the findings to management, significant time has elapsed. This data is still valuable, but staff turnover rates in hospitality and other service industries make it difficult to take the necessary, timely action to engage and retain many of the team members who actually provided the feedback.



Download: Ultimate Hospitality Workforce Optimization Playbook



Rather than depending solely on annual surveys to inform engagement strategies, “pulse” technology for employee feedback now empowers managers with frequent, immediate insights into team member attitudes. This gives them the opportunity to respond to their employees’ thoughts and opinions quickly, rather than working with information that is months old.


Using our STAFFScope feedback solution as an example, a hotel operator can create specifically worded questions and distribute them via mobile platforms to dramatically increase immediacy, convenience, and participation rates. Managers can take that information to identify rising issues and address them before they become more pervasive.




This type of feedback solution also gives employees a powerful voice. When employees see that their thoughts and opinions actually mean something and result in actions, engagement levels inevitably rise, propelling other components of workforce optimization. Greater engagement strengthens culture, improves productivity, and increases everything from guest satisfaction rates to the intent to return.


Employee engagement is just one piece of the workforce optimization puzzle, albeit a crucial one. When coupled with labor management tools that optimize scheduling and help managers respond more easily and quickly to staff requests, a hotelier can truly realize the many benefits of optimized workforce performance.


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