Tag Archives: hotel staff induction

Making the most of your seasonal staff

This week the Christmas party season gets well under way.  Even if you are not as busy as in previous years the chances are you’ll be taking on some extra staff.  But are they an asset or a liability?  If all you do is give them an order pad and tell them to get on with it, they could be doing more harm than good to your Christmas profits.

Teamwork is key. Introduce new staff to the whole team, defining everyone’s areas of responsibility to ensure no gaps and no duplication of effort.  Avoid the frictions that occur when someone hasn’t pulled their weight or others are seen to ‘interfere’ with your way of doing things.

Everyone needs to know what’s expected of them from day one. Clarify basic standards of dress, staff behaviour, time keeping, break allowance, staff meals, security, food safety, health and safety.  Don’t leave them floundering or too scared to ask for help. Establish a clear line of reporting, and who to go to for help and guidance when needed – ensuring, of course, that this person will be patient and supportive when asked.

First impressions count. Specify your establishment’s standards for welcoming and greeting customers, including the booking procedures if this is part of their role.

What is their role in up-selling, and what are the products you want them to promote, including any future events?  If your core team are incentivised, make sure you include seasonal staff in the scheme. People can’t sell something they don’t know exists. Ensure a thorough product knowledge – what does your establishment offer – times of service, complementary products, etc.  Let your staff taste the dishes, explain what accompanies each dish and what it should look like, what prices include and what’s extra (especially with fixed menus or party packages).

Run through the payment procedures, including any security procedures or checks needed. Establish protocol in dealing with difficult situations, customer complaints, and awkward customers.  Define the line between handling themselves and when to seek intervention from a manager or more experienced staff member.

Avoid being let down at the last minute – Provide out of hours contact numbers and establish procedures for sickness reporting.

Maintain your reputation as a good employer. Treat seasonal staff well, and they will be willing to come back next time you need an extra hand. Give them something to look forward to and keep them interested for the whole season.  Involve them in any after work social activities and maybe some incentive awarded at the end of the season.


Do your hotel staff know the score? ~ Part 1

There’s nothing more frustrating, and demotivating for staff than lack of communication and being kept in the dark. Unless people know what’s expected of them and what’s going on you’ll end up with an unhappy team, and ultimately an impact on performance levels and increased staff turnover.

Hopefully the communication starts with a thorough induction, which includes not only an outline of their job and what’s expected of them, but how their contribution fits into the bigger picture, the values and culture of the business and an insight into what happens in other parts of the business.

But recognise that a one-off training session will never be enough.

Your staff need to be kept up-to-date all the time.  They need to know what is going on in the business, and how this will affect them and they need feedback on how they are doing.  Here are four ways to keep your staff up to date and let them know their contribution is important and valued.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the importance of the daily briefing.

Good communication is key to effective leadership, and the skills needed will be covered in detail in my forthcoming online leadership coaching programme


Don’t waste your recruitment effort & costs by poor induction

How soon after joining do your hotel staff have to face guests? The first few weeks in any job will determine whether a person will want to stay with you.

People like (and need) to know what’s expected of them. So when people start with you a thorough induction is absolutely key, and a good induction will help make effective & loyal staff.

So within that induction, what are the types of things they need to know?

They certainly do need to know all of the standards around their job. But there are other things as well. Yes, they need to know what their job is, yes, they need to know about their holiday entitlement, about their pay, where they can leave their belongings, health, safety and hygiene procedures; all of those things are very important. But look a little bit beyond that.

Think about your own values and philosophy. What is the type of experience you want your guest to have when they stay with you? And communicate that to your staff.

A part of the induction might be “This is the way we do things around here….”. And sometimes that might come better from a fellow employee, a sort of buddy, rather than necessarily always coming from you. However if you are going to do that, make sure that the person they are buddied up with knows the standards, knows the expectations, and knows what you want from them.

Where does their job fit into the bigger picture? Where does their role fit in with everybody else’s? What does everybody else do? What are all the other services and facilities that you provide? Staff can’t upsell if they don’t know what you offer.

So if, for example, they are on reception they need to know what a bedroom looks like, what is the distinction between a superior room and a standard room. They need to know about the menu offer. Equally if they are in the kitchen let them know what goes on front of house as well. Give them an opportunity to go into the restaurant, to see a room, and if you have other leisure facilities, let all your staff get a feel for them and just experience them. Okay, they are not all going to be selling these things all of the time, but they need to have an idea of the bigger picture and what your guests will be experiencing.

Good induction will help make effective & loyal staff.

So for the next person you take on, don’t waste your recruitment effort & costs by poor induction.  Increase the likelihood that they will want to stay, and become an effective and loyal employee, by giving them a thorough induction.

Foundations in Leadership is a new approach to hospitality leadership development. Do you ever feel you aren’t getting everything you want from your team?  Instead would you love to tap into their true potential so you can focus on the bigger picture? Find out more about the programme here and take advantage of the fast action bonuses.


How prepared are you for an emergency?

Last week I had the opportunity to attend a Project Argus for hotels event.

Project Argus Hotels is a counter terrorism training workshop designed by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office and the Hotel Industry and provides information and advice to assist you in planning for and dealing with a terrorist or other catastrophic event.  The training is targeted at General/Duty Managers, Chief Engineers, Restaurant Managers, House Keeping Managers and their deputies.

Although the focus is around minimising the risk and the handling of terrorist attacks I felt there were many salient points covered during the session which would make generally good practice for any hotel, restaurant, bar or conference centre.

We all put systems in place for cleaning, cashing up, what to do in the event of fire, but how many of us go beyond the fire evacuation procedure? Would any of us know what do or have the resources in place to deal with something such as an explosion (terrorist or otherwise), a serious road accident outside the premises, a robbery, or even a power cut at seven o’clock on a busy February morning. (We heard from one hotel manager who had experiences an armed robbery at the end of a busy Saturday night – scary stuff!)

Okay, I admit that these might all call that different actions, but there were a number of ways we can prepare for these events which at the very least might give you a bit less stress should they occur, and may help to minimise the impact on our customers.

Obviously I am far from qualified to write about counter terrorism, but here are some of the things I picked out from the workshop that could be of benefit to any site in an emergency situation.

Emergency kit/grab bag(s)

Keep an emergency kit or grab bag behind reception, or somewhere where it can be accessed by anyone at any time in an emergency and can be found easily even if you have no lighting. Contents of the bag might include such things as:

  • Windup radio (unless it regularly used batteries may go flat or corrode)
  • Torch (windup)
  • Bottled water
  • High visibility jacket
  • Space blanket

Incident management plan

This might include such sections as:

  • Roles and responsibilities detailing specific tasks for team members
  • Emergency contacts list
  • Non emergency contact numbers e.g. local police station
  • Utility Companies
  • Suppliers who may assist
  • Key staff
  • Business partners

Staff training

It’s one thing having procedures written down but staff need to know the procedures: how to raise the alarm if necessary, who to contact first, where information and emergency resources can be found. Your guests or customers will look to you and your team for direction and information.

As with your fire drill, run refresher training on a regular basis.

The aftershock

Depending on the circumstances be prepared for:

  • Staff absenteeism through injury or shock
  • Is there a need for counselling (I have first hand experience here from a near fatal accident when a member of our team tried to prevent a car theft from the car park – several people – myself included were stunned by the event. The KP in question was off for 12 months, and was very lucky to have pulled through.)
  • Reputation – word travels fast, so how you handle the event can have an impact on your reputation as an employer, as well as with customers and suppliers
  • Communicate after the event with anyone who may be affected e.g. suppliers, future bookings, etc

Prevention is better than cure

  • Be vigilant – report anything suspicious, and take staff or customers’ reports seriously
  • Don’t invite crime by sloppy security or poor asset management
  • Have set security procedures in place which might include checking of identity cards for maintenance contractors, records of vehicle registration numbers of suppliers, keeping unoccupied offices and rooms, and unattended entrances locked, tamper proof seals on maintenance hatches, keeping surveillance views clear from barriers and vegetation
  • Good housekeeping as well as improving the appearance of premises, reduces the risk of accidents, fire and opportunities for placing suspicious items, so helping to cut down on false alarms and hoaxes

Contact your local police force and ask for the Counter Terrorism Security Officer for more information.


How to get the best from seasonal Christmas staff

This weekend the Christmas party season gets well under way.  Even if you are not as busy as in previous years the chances are you’ll be taking on some extra staff.  But are they an asset or a liability?  If all you do is give them an order pad and tell them to get on with it, they could be doing more harm than good to your Christmas profits.

Here are my top 10 basics to cover with any new member of staff, whether for the Christmas rush or at any other time of year.

  1. Teamwork is key. Introduce new staff to the whole team, defining everyone’s areas of responsibility to ensure no gaps and no duplication of effort, Avoid the frictions that occur when someone hasn’t pulled their weight or others are seen to ‘interfere’ with your way of doing things.
  2. Don’t leave them floundering or too scared to ask for help. Establish a clear line of reporting, and who to go to for help and guidance when needed – ensuring, of course, that this person will be patient and supportive when asked.
  3. Everyone needs to know what’s expected of them from day one. Clarify basic standards of dress, staff behaviour, time keeping, break allowance, staff meals, security, food safety, health and safety.
  4. First impressions count. Specify your establishment’s standards for welcoming and greeting customers, including the booking procedures if this is part of their role.
  5. What is their role in up-selling, and what are the products you want them to promote, including any future events?  If your core team are incentivised, make sure you include seasonal staff in the scheme.
  6. People can’t sell something they don’t know exists. Ensure a thorough product knowledge – what does your establishment offer – times of service, complementary products, etc.  Let your staff taste the dishes, explain what accompanies each dish and what it should look like, what prices include and what’s extra (especially with fixed menus or party packages).
  7. Establish protocol in dealing with difficult situations, customer complaints, and awkward customers.  Define the line between handling themselves and when to seek intervention from a manager or more experienced staff member
  8. Run through the payment procedures, including any security procedures or checks needed.
  9. Avoid being let down at the last minute – Provide out of hours contact numbers and establish procedures for sickness reporting.
  10. Maintain your reputation as a good employer. Treat seasonal staff well, and they will be willing to come back next time you need an extra hand. Give them something to look forward to and keep them interested for the whole season.  Involve them in any after work social activities and maybe some incentive awarded at the end of the season.

Here’s to a very successful and profitable Christmas season