Having a happy, motivated and productive team is key to customer service, maintaining sales and controlling costs. Conversely unenthusiastic or discontented staff will not only affect the quality of service, your sales and the day-to-day running of the operation, but will also rub off on everyone else, and ultimately lead to high labour turnover.
The average labour turnover for the UK hospitality industry is around 30% (considerably higher in London). With the average recruitment and training cost per employee estimated at around £1500, this equates to a £886 million cost to the industry per annum. So it’s far more important to retain the staff that you have than to treat them as a disposable item.
If you want to retain the your best people you need to give them what they want.
Training and development
Communication is a two-way process, not only do people need to know what’s going on, they want to be heard. Daily briefings need to include what’s happening that could affect the operation or the customer experience in any way (e.g. maintenance, staff shortages, unavailable products or services), as well as any feedback from staff on their observations or ideas. Let your team know how the business is performing, and what this means to them. Communicate any changes that are happening in the business before they happen, and how this might affect them.
Training and development
The first six weeks is critical to any new staff; it’s during this time that make up their mind whether or not this is the right job for them. Rather alarmingly it is reported that 33% of hospitality businesses don’t do any training. If this is the case, how on earth do people know what is expected of them on a day-to-day basis, let alone know how they can contribute to the business or develop their career?
Training your staff in the mechanics of the business operation puts them in a better position to contribute to cost control and income generation. If people understand how the business makes its money they are then in a position to contribute to this and put forward their own ideas.
Make training a part of day-to-day management, so it’s not seen as something that is additional or optional. This goes to both staff and supervisors/managers. Identify those who have an interest in developing their CV’s and are willing to take on training responsibilities as part of their own development.
Think about your succession and grow from within. Give people the opportunity for career progression as well is enhancing the skills to do their existing job. Think also about life skills; for example offering English lessons. And make use of the training grants available through the tourist boards, colleges, People 1st and Train to Gain.
All of the above points contribute to good leadership and I could go on the hours on the subject, but there are three areas in particular I’m going to home in on here.
We’ve already talked about communicating what’s expected. Set standards so that people can measure their own performance. Be consistent, ensuring the same ‘rules’ apply to everyone. Focus on telling people what you want to achieve, i.e. the end result, rather than dictating how to do it. This give people flexibility to adopt their own style and you’ll be surprised how often they end up improving the process. Lead by example so there are no mixed messages. And make sure you provide the appropriate tools, resources and training to do the job effectively.
Look and listen
Ensure that you and your management team are approachable. Provide support when it’s needed, and be receptive to when this is required. Not everyone will be confident enough to ask for help. Consult staff and listen to their ideas; they may be able to offer better ways of doing things.
Take time to talk to staff to build relationships and show an interest in them as individuals. Listen to and act quickly on any concerns. Identify what’s important to them recognising that with the varied cultures and backgrounds of your staff that their values and priorities may sometimes be different to your own.
Recognise and rewarded performance and achievements. This includes giving constructive feedback-what have they done well and how it has contributed; where they have fallen short and how this can be improved. Celebrate and share successes; identify and utilise people strengths, delegating and giving them control and ownership where appropriate. Be sure to recognise all departments, including back of house staff, e.g. housekeeping is often the most undervalued department, but is commonly the most profitable aspect of a hotel.
Encourage and reward loyalty by conducting regular pay/benefits reviews. Think about incentives that are within reach of any member of staff who performs well. This might mean focusing on a different theme each month so that everyone has an opportunity to be recognised for their particular skills or strengths.