How to get hospitality staff engaged in training

There’s nothing more frustrating for a trainer to see a sea of glum faces in front of them, and know that the minute the delegates walk out of the meeting room it will be back to business as normal, acting on nothing they’ve heard in the training. And when staff training is so important to ensure consistency and a great guest experience how can you get hospitality staff engaged in training?

Well, as I heard one person say recently “make the training engaging”. It seems the obvious answer doesn’t it, but just how do we do this?


Before the training begins plan ahead. Check that the training is in the right format for the objectives you need to achieve (you do know what you want to achieve, don’t you?) It is useful to think of your objectives in actionable terms. “To understand the importance of the new health and safety policy” means nothing. What do you want people to do differently as a result of the training?

Ensure that only those who need the training and will have an opportunity to put it into practice are invited to the session; who wants to sit through training that is a repeat of what they have already done, irrelevant to their job, or insults their intelligence as they are already doing what the training is intended to achieve?

Choose your trainer wisely. Sometimes the person most qualified on a topic is not necessarily the best person to communicate it. I’m sure we can all remember the boffin lecturers at college, who quite frankly bore you to death with the detail and the delivery. Can you appoint a champion for the topic within the team who is able to distil the key messages and communicate these?

Keep in mind delegates’ schedules and personal circumstances when scheduling the training. And give plenty of warning. I conducted some training recently for a small hotel where one of the delegates had already done a 9 hour shift and then could hardly keep his eyes open. Another part timer – a student – was on teaching practice and had to come in straight from school, and then go home and do marking. And on another occasion recently one of my delegates had made arrangements to meet friends to celebrate her birthday, but was told the day before about the training and that if she did not attend she’d lose her part time job! Not exactly the best way to engage staff in training.

Ensure why they know they are attending. This means relating it to a personal benefit; will it make their job easier, quicker, safer or more interesting? Will it put them in a better position to progress to a new role they aspire to? Will it give them more confidence and independence in their role? You don’t need to ignore the business benefits, but help them identify what’s in it for them too, so at least they turn up to the training with a bit of enthusiasm.

In tomorrow’s blog I’ll cover how the format affects the outcome.

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