The hospitality industry suffers from one of the highest staff turnover rates, 73.8% in fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This defining feature of the industry creates incredible costs due to hiring expenses, understaffing, and inefficiency. Not to mention, less tangible costs such as stress, confusion, and frustration. However, the ones who feel the effect of this turnover rate the most are guests.
Hotel staff are leaving in droves due to an ironic paradox. An industry that hinges entirely on providing quality customer service often fails to account for the needs of their own staff. Hotel industry workers are so dissatisfied that in the UK, Deputy calculated that the average tenure was 7.5 months and that 1 in 3 workers left their job in the last 12 months.
As a company dedicated to helping hotel management, we used personal experiences and insights to help them keep one of their most important resources, their staff. In fact, our company is a collection of hospitality industry workers who felt they weren’t reaching their full potential. So, we decided to share some reasons hospitality workers leave, along with ways to avoid it. After all, it’s incredibly difficult for hospitality management to welcome guests through the front door if hotel staff are quitting and leaving through the back one.
5 Reasons Hospitality Staff Leave
Overworked and Understaffed
A high staff turnover rate can create its own vicious cycle where hotel staff feel the brunt of an unreasonable workload due to understaffing and choose to leave which passes that same workload onto the remaining team members. To address the problem, managers will hire more people but like any position, there is a learning curve to the job, and it takes time to become familiar with hotel operations. Sometimes, an inexperienced co-worker can be more work than a non-existent one, which puts the pressure on the more seasoned and experienced staff and can eventually push them out the door.
No Clear Company Vision
The direction that a company is working towards helps hotel staff navigate their position. If they don’t know that destination, they’re often lost. However, briefing meetings are often attended by managers and information slowly trickles down to the rest of the staff. When staff are excluded, they feel unprepared and unable to fulfill their duties to the best of their ability. More importantly, it also makes them feel left out of their company’s big picture. Understandably, this can be a very stressful, frustrating, and demotivating feeling.
Inefficient Staff Communication
Every property has multiple shifts working around the clock to give their guests the best experience. This means that shifts need to communicate with each other effectively to create seamless transitions. However, even in the 21st century, many properties communicate through post-it notes and phone calls. These methods can leave out important information, clutter work areas, and distract staff from tasks. For example, a guest might mention a broken appliance to a maid who then reports it to the supervisor. The supervisor calls maintenance to fix the issue, which they do. It might seem like success, but not all the team has been notified. So, when the guest asks the receptionist about the appliance’s status, he must call the supervisor in order to answer. At best, it takes a few moments to answer the guest. At the worst, it appears disorganized and unprofessional, the two things a property should never be.
Profit Over People
It is undeniable that any property lives or dies by the almighty dollar. However, it can sometimes come at the cost of your hotel staff. Becoming so engrossed in P&L and quarterly KPIs puts a lot of pressure on the people at the bottom to deliver. This can cause the two previously mentioned problems. Staff need to feel that they are important in addition to profits, rather than instead of them. They shouldn’t feel that they are simply a means to an end. If they do, it won’t be long before they are eyeing the door.
Not Understanding Staff
We aren’t saying you need to find out their favorite color, but what is their motivation for working at your property? Hotel staff could find themselves working on your staff for a multitude of reasons. If you incorrectly emphasize one that isn’t a priority for them, it could motivate them…to leave. We took a closer look at the different motivations by creating the 5 Personas of Hospitality. Learn if you have any on your staff and how to specifically support them.
How to Help Your Staff Stick Around
Now that we have listed some of the main reasons that people leave the hospitality industry, it’s time to address how hospitality management can get them to stay. Regular staff communication with your team is the fundamental change, but there are many different approaches when considering which is best for your staff. These changes might be minor, but their results can be huge. Here are a few different proven methods!
Create Weekly Newsletters
In our own company we faced a challenge with interdepartmental staff communication. Departments were unaware of what others were doing and didn’t know whom to reach out to and when. We decided that a weekly internal newsletter summarizing each department’s activities for the week would help keep everyone in the loop. Since that time, we have all been on the same page and share a clear common vision for the company. The newsletter clarified issues and helped us work more efficiently. But don’t take our word for it, the Mckinsey Global Institute reported that improved internal communication through technology can raise productivity 20 to 25%.
However, your newsletters don’t have to be electronic if your team is more comfortable with paper. Posting them on physical bulletin boards will work just as well. But the organization of your newsletter is just as important as having one. It should include important logistic details related to guests and the property’s plans but be careful of it turning into a corporate spreadsheet. Use it as a tool to encourage, motivate, and connect with your staff that everyone can contribute to. Don’t be afraid to have the occasional hilarious anecdote or use it as a platform to praise an individual’s actions. Help your staff feel less like gears in a machine and more like members of a valued team.
Give Feedback to Staff
Closer to an artform than a workplace responsibility, effective feedback should walk the thin line between helpful and hurtful. When used correctly, it is a powerful tool in encouraging your staff to stay. Don’t be afraid to give your team feedback often as Gallup discovered that giving consistent feedback can reduce staff turnover by 14.9%. Take the opportunity to highlight specific areas of improvement or appreciation while also asking for their personal thoughts. The more detailed you can be in your feedback, the more your staff will remember it and take it into account.
When giving one-on-one feedback, frame the meeting as a discussion instead of a lecture. Engage your team member by asking reflective questions such as “How do you feel you’re handing your new responsibilities?” They might beat you to the punch and acknowledge that they have areas where they could improve which gives you the perfect segue into your observations and comments. Your staff member will view you as someone who is working to help them succeed rather than waiting for them to fail.
Receive Feedback from Staff
While we have no doubt that you are a fantastic manager, we are all human. Mistakes happen. Use your staff to catch them. Set up anonymous surveys so hotel staff can confidently speak out. These should be short and used occasionally as opposed to the weekly newsletters. Too many becomes a chore to fill out rather than an opportunity to be heard.
The last step is hearing your staff, not simply listening. Don’t feel defensive and offended but acknowledge that there might be wisdom in their words. There might also be money in them since in the same study, Gallup found that teams had 12.5% greater productivity when their managers received feedback. However, if staff feel that their suggestions are falling on deaf ears, they might take their suggestions to a different boss.
It’s incredibly demotivating to see someone unqualified or unfamiliar with a position promoted ahead of you. Don’t let your staff experience this. In addition to raising morale, promoting internally can also help your bottom line. Finding a new employee is not cheap. Hiring costs include advertising for the position, clearing background checks, and training the new hire. Not to mention the time taken interviewing dozens of applicants. Meanwhile, the perfect candidate could be right in front of you.
Don’t see the perfect fit for the position on your staff? Help them become that perfect fit. Invest back into your team by taking the time to prepare them to move up the ladder and take on more responsibilities. Hotel staff will see that you are preparing them for greater opportunities and will want to stick around to see where it takes them.
Too many managers view technology as an intrusive and intimidating new approach to hospitality. In reality, it’s a customizable tool that perfects and expedites tasks that they’ve been doing for years. Technology can save your staff time and frustration which translates into you saving money.
There has never been a better time to bring some tech into your hospitality management technique. Modern hotel housekeeping and staff communication software can offer features such as hotel lost and found tracking, operational analytics, and task management. The best part is that they are more affordable than ever. These features can be at your staff’s fingertips with each room priced at less than a cup of coffee. Your staff will be able to connect in real time and communicate effectively, astounding guests with a superior level of hospitality.
No, you read that correctly, celebrating with your staff will help them feel that they are part of the big picture. Celebrations are a great opportunity to include members from different departments which strengthens teamwork and staff communication. Your staff spend upwards of eight hours a day together. They should feel like a team not a group of individuals.
Celebrations can range from your property celebrating an anniversary, checking-in your millionth guest, or another property’s grand opening. Regardless of the reason, this should be a win for everyone, not simply the property’s brand and owner. After all, your property wouldn’t have reached this new milestone of success without the dedicated staff that run it every day. Help them feel appreciated and acknowledged as you pass out the bubbly!
Commit to Change
Your staff is now successfully informed, heard, and valued (and maybe full of cake). Regardless of their professional motivations, your new approaches will have them well taken care of. However, the last and most important aspect is consistency. While it’s great to try many different strategies, they don’t mean much if they are quickly abandoned. Establish these ideals as the new norm and you’ll find that a lot more hotel staff are sticking around.
So, start the new year right by committing to a new system where problems with hospitality staffing are a thing of the past. From the hotel front office, to the hotel housekeeping and maintenance, everyone will feel that they are part of a modern, appreciative, and communicative team.
Who would want to leave that?