Transforming Employee Engagement in the Hospitality Industry

In the hospitality industry, traditional metrics like revenue performance and guest satisfaction have long been the go-to indicators for assessing a hotel’s business health. However, as businesses increasingly acknowledge the vital role of talent in achieving success, talent retention has emerged as a paramount concern, which we explore in this excerpt from the HSMAI Foundation Special Report: The State of Hotel Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization Talent 2023-2024 

Historically, the hospitality industry measured employee engagement primarily through annual surveys, which eventually evolved into more frequent pulse surveys. While these surveys provided valuable insights, they often proved to be administratively burdensome and lacked the agility needed to address the dynamic and ever-evolving needs of the workforce. Importantly, the majority of hospitality businesses do not accurately measure the health of their culture, at a time when culture is a critical determinant of success. 

Employee engagement, often dubbed as a mission-critical metric, is now under the spotlight of senior leaders and boards of directors who recognize its pivotal role in driving shareholder and commercial value. Engaged employees (Gallup, 2023) contribute discretionary effort that can make all the difference in the fiercely competitive hospitality sector. Today, the pursuit of engaged employees is not merely a choice but a competitive advantage, and the means to achieve this engagement are evolving rapidly.  

The Stafford Collection, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, Improves Culture and Engages Employees through the Empowered Program 

In this context, the introduction of programs like the Empowered Program is an example of a significant shift in how hotels can more effectively engage with their employees. Listening to and learning from employees have become crucial elements of effective talent management. Hoteliers now seek innovative ways to engage their workforce proactively. The Empowered Program, recently piloted by The Stafford Collection and its flagship hotel The Stafford London, is a comprehensive solution that empowers hotels to actively listen, learn, and act on confidential and anonymous employee feedback. This dynamic program developed specifically for the hospitality industry provides leading culture scores and metrics, including survey templates, employee communication tools to boost survey participation, communications to share actions taking from the employee recommendations, a virtual suggestion box, and clear dashboards for presenting the insights gleaned from the feedback process. Talent retention and employee engagement have risen to the forefront of concerns for hoteliers, reshaping the way they view their workforce. In an era marked by a significant talent shortage, the ability to attract, engage, and retain top talent has become a linchpin of success in the industry.  

Case Study: The Stafford Collection Improves Culture and Engages Employees  

At The Stafford Collection in London, a member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts, the Empowered Program achieved remarkable success, boasting an outstanding 93% participation rate among employees in survey activities. This high level of engagement translated into meaningful actions, as outlined below. The positive outcomes were two-fold: improved employee retention and cost efficiencies that swiftly justified the program’s initial investment within just 90 days. Equally important, employees reported feeling more valued, cared for, and heard, resulting in a workforce that was not only more engaged but also more dedicated to the organization.  

This robust engagement led to meaningful actions, including:  

  1. Confidential Mental Health Support: The program identified the need for employee mental health support. In response, the Stafford Collection implemented a confidential mental health support line, demonstrating their commitment to employee well-being. 
  2. Catering Solutions: To alleviate pressure on their chefs and improve employee satisfaction, the Stafford Hotel Group transitioned to an outsourced catering solution for their employee canteen. 
  3. Streamlined Food Sourcing: Employee suggestions from the program highlighted opportunities to optimize food sourcing across their properties. The Stafford Hotel Group’s response streamlined the food purchasing process and enhanced cost-efficiency. 
  4. Enhanced Communication and Collaboration: Employee feedback identified opportunities for improved communication and collaboration among various employee groups, fostering a more cohesive and collaborative team structure. The senior team at Stafford acted on this feedback and provided a more consultative and collaborative employee communication approach with more frequent meetings. 

The positive outcomes were twofold: best-ever employee retention and cost efficiencies that rapidly recouped the program’s initial investment within just 90 days. Moreover, employees themselves reported feeling more valued, cared for, and listened to, resulting in a more engaged and dedicated workforce.  

The Stafford Collection demonstrates how deployment of The Empowered Program reshaped the landscape of employee engagement in their hotel portfolio. By proactively listening to employees, acting on their feedback, and utilizing leading culture scores and metrics, the program has not only paid off in terms of improved employee retention and cost savings but has also fostered a workplace culture where employees feel genuinely cared for and heard. As the hospitality sector evolves, innovative programs like Empowered are set to play a pivotal role in ensuring that employees are at the heart of positive change and continuous improvement within the hotel community. 

The impressive actions resulting from the implementation and embracing of the Empowered program by The Stafford Collection prompted Preferred Hotels & Resorts to adopt the program at a corporate level and to endorse it to all member hotels. 

Key Takeaways  

  • Employee engagement is a pivotal metric on most businesses’ scorecards.
  • Listening and learning from front line employees’ fuels efficiency and productivity.
  • Technology is powering more dynamic employee engagement platforms that respond to employees’ needs and allows employers to continue to learn from employees in close to real time.

To read more about the top talent trends, including case studies of this trend, downloadthe HSMAI Foundation Special Report: The State of Hotel Sales, Marketing, and Revenue Optimization Talent 2023-2024. 

Categories: Sales
Insight Type: Articles