Disengaged employees are The biggest threat to your hotel

Disengaged employees are The biggest threat to your hotel

Having spent a huge amount of money and effort acquiring the right staff for your hospitality business, you really need them to be performing to their best, wowing your guests and adding maximum value to your business at all times.

So why is it that some staff give little effort, seem to complain a lot, are quick to make excuses without taking responsibility, seem to show no initiative and lack commitment?  They are disengaged.  Can you influence them to change?  Yes.  Leaders have the biggest influence on the behaviour of their employees.  Lets firstly define Employee Engagement and why in such a people business it needs to be top of your leadership agenda.


Employee Engagement is the extent to which employees feel passionate about their jobs, are committed to the organisation and its goals, and put discretionary effort into their work.

Employee Engagement is not employee happiness.  Someone might be happy at work, but that doesn't necessarily mean they are working hard and at their most productive.

Employee engagement doesn't mean employee satisfaction.  A satisfied employee might show up daily 9 to 5 without complaint.  But that same "satisfied" employee might not go the extra effort on her own, anad she'll probably jump ship for an extra 10p an hour.  Satisfied isn't enough.

What Engagement looks like

Employees who are emotionally committed actually care about their work and their company.

When they care they are engaged and use discretionary effort.

This means they work overtime when needed, without being asked.  This means they pick up rubbish, even if the boss isn't watching.  This means they go out of their way to engage with guests even when their shift is finished and generate new ideas that improve your guest experience.

Benefits of Employee Engagement

Engaged employees lead to better business outcomes.  There is a great deal of research (Gallup, Harvard, Forbes) that shows companies with high employee engagement scores outperform those with low engagement scores.  They outperform by 10% on customer ratings, 21% on productivity, 22% on profitability and have lower turnover and lower absenteeism.

Learn from others.

There are many great case studies out there for Hospitality Companies that feature in the UK top companies to work for awards, such as Red Carnation, Hawksmoor, Marriott, Bourne Leisure, Yotel, Connect Catering.  Look them up.  They all believe the single most important driver to high employee engagement are highly competent managers.

These are the 5 wise things that highly engaging hospitality managers do.

1.  Leadership Training

Hospitality staff are often promoted into Heads of Department roles at quite a young age with great technical and customer skills but without having the skills to inspire, lead and coach their teams.  Employee Engagement will never happen, unless your managers are trained in the latest techniques in leading a diverse and multi-generational worksforce.  Leaders need to focus everyday on improving a skill, building on their strengths (not weaknesses) and increasing their knowledge of industry trends, competitors and guest needs.  Having an inspirational Mentor can really help with gaining a fresh perspective on how to achieve your goals.

2.  Strengthen the capabilities of their team

In a recent Gallup survey 65% of staff felt they had more skills and talents to offer than they are currently being asked for.  Providing learning opportunities for staff will motivate, attract the best talent and improve your bottom line.  The best leaders review the skills of their team every 3 months to draw up individual learning plans for all staff.  Matching the needs of the business with the skills you have and ensuring your staff are driving the business forward will make them feel valued and want to give more of their best.  Your team will want to use and develop their skills to do work they are proud of.  Do allow for some mistakes as part of the learning though and look for opportunities to praise lots!  This will ensure those behaviours you want to see more of are repeated.

3.  Strengthen emotional intelligence

This is something that is imperative in hospitality but often overlooked as a skill that can be trained and developed.  In order to deliver outstanding employee and guest experiences leaders and their teams need to connect emotionally with guests, to demonstrate empathy, to anticipate needs, to personalise their delivery and make all guests feel valued and special.  To achieve this, managers need to expertly manage their own emotions and influence those of their teams to create an invironment where everyone can perform at their best.  Emotionally intelligent hotel managers are highly self-aware, design the gest experience around their guests emotional needs interacting with guests in the way guests wants.  Hilton hotels saw a 24% increase in market share following a period of intense emotionall intelligence training.

4.  Role Model Appropriate Behaviours

The behaviours you want to see demonstrated by your staff must be demonstrated consistently by your managers and there must be no gap between what managers say and what they do. A hospitality manager must set clear expecations for standards of behaviour and ensure everyone knows how their role fits into the big company picture.  Recently we developed with the Hotel Directors and Heads of Departments of an independent hotel group leadership behaviours such as Open and Willing to Learn, Pride and passion about the product, Solutions Focused and Relentless committment to Guest Experience.  Through the training all leaders understand what these look like and how to demonstrate them to create that positive guest centric culture for their team. Their performance is measured by these behaviours as well as other targets.

5.  Empower and trust their team.

In the same gallup survey 40% of staff say they don't trust their boss.  Delegating, sharing more of the company goals and vision and how every team member can contribute to this will build trust.  Allow staff to be themselves and feel in control of their work.  They will shine and surprise you!  Remove any barriers that get in the way of your team doing a great job every day and help them overcome obstacles they experience.  Empowerment encourages new ideas, encourages staff to expland their personal capabilities including problem solving skills and increases their desire and commitment to play more of a part in the company's success.

There are alot more ideas to inspire and inform you in our free Video Series of 8 x 3 min videos that will change your hotel!

Anne Blackburn

Customer Experience Director


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