To say that times have been difficult would certainly be an understatement. Especially when it comes to hospitality and the uncertainty that people working in this industry have had to face.
Housekeepers, who are at the heart of every hotel operation, have been chronically undervalued, and not just in terms of compensation.
Anyone familiar with the hotel industry and housekeeping work knows that providing proper motivation is a huge challenge when managing a housekeeping team. The good news is that small gestures, as long as they are sincere, can go a long way towards making housekeepers feel appreciated and respected.
In the hospitality industry, a motivated housekeeping staff often equates to a higher standard of service and, in turn, greater customer satisfaction. Conversely, a lack of motivation can cause a ripple effect, resulting in a lesser quality of work across all service segments and departments. A lack of proper motivation is also one of the main reasons behind high turnover rates in hospitality.
With that in mind, here are some tips housekeeping and hotel managers can follow to boost morale and increase their housekeeping staff’s productivity and motivation through positive reinforcement and support.
Give Housekeepers a Chance to Learn New Things
By offering your housekeepers a chance to learn new skills you are not only turning your workforce into a better-skilled one, you are also giving your employees a chance to grow with your hotel. Housekeepers who take these opportunities by the horns and build their skill sets quickly could potentially turn into future managers and supervisors.
This then gives you the ability to do three very positive things for your business with just one new program:
✔️ Support the growth of your employees
✔️ Hire from within for managerial positions
✔️ Improve your retention rates
Investing in your housekeepers is always a good idea - you will motivate them to work harder and learn new things. In time, this will help them become significantly more knowledgeable and skillful than they were when you first hired them.
Give Them a Voice
In any business, hospitality included, it’s essential to give your employees a chance to share their opinions. Make sure that they know that they are allowed to make comments and give suggestions related to work processes, the work environment, work relationships, and anything else that matters to them without being punished for it in any way.
Many housekeepers fear speaking up and telling management what they think. That’s why housekeeping managers need to openly encourage staff members to speak up if they have anything constructive to say.
The hotel housekeeping staff is directly involved and acquainted with the ins and outs of the daily operations. Many hotel processes begin and end with them. If anyone would spot weaknesses in the hotel staff’s workflow and areas that need improvement, it would be them.
Listen to housekeepers and have them point out things that should be improved. Encourage them to make proactive suggestions to increase their motivation and improve the quality of your hotel’s offer once all of the best suggestions have been implemented.
Introduce Objective and Transparent Performance Measurement
When it comes to measuring the performance of your housekeeping staff, it is crucial to stay as objective as possible. A measurement and evaluation system that only keeps track of the number of completed tasks and mistakes is not an accurate one. And it certainly won't keep the hotel housekeeping staff motivated.
In addition to more objective key performance indicators (KPIs), it is also important to make the process more transparent. Housekeeping staff should be aware of what is being measured and how their performances are being graded. The factors that determine their performance scores and how this data correlates to their evaluations should all be things that your staff are made aware of as soon as they are onboarded so that they know what to expect.
Our tip: Correlate data such as the number of cleaned rooms and reported errors with data such as average workload, number of guests per room, etc. The goal is to focus on relevant data that can provide managers with a clearer and more objective picture of the work being done.
When housekeepers know that managers are doing their best to be fair and objective in reporting on their performances, it inspires and motivates them to work harder to earn better evaluations. A lack of transparency and objectivity can lead to housekeeping staff cutting corners and trying to find ways to cheat the system since they aren’t being presented with any real guidelines that define what is truly expected of them.
Reward Good Work
Rewarding housekeepers for their good work ties many of the things we have been talking about together. When rewarding housekeepers who are constantly rising to the occasion based on the objective and transparent goals that you have set for them, you are motivating them by showing them that their work is valued and appreciated.
As for the actual rewards, what you’re going to offer is up to you and your resources. If your hotel has a spa or organizes day trips, you could offer vouchers to your best-performing housekeeping staff. Coupons for partner services are also great if you think that your staff would prefer rewards that are not tied to the same property where they work.
Financial bonuses are never a bad reward either. Just make sure that they fit within the constraints of your budget and are significant enough to be appealing to your staff.
Remember how we talked about giving your housekeepers a voice and asking them for their opinions? If you’re not sure what type of awards they would appreciate for a job well done, ask them directly, whether in person or via some type of employee survey.
Increase Their Wages (If Possible)
Let’s be completely honest, the best reward is always an increase in pay. Like most workers, hotel housekeeping staff perform the job because they need to make money in order to support their families and make a living. That’s why, in terms of motivation, money is a huge motivator.
Unfortunately, many managers might not have a way to offer pay increases to their housekeeping staff right now.
There is a way to go about this, though. The key is to regularly and incrementally reward your housekeepers with increases in wages. Naturally, wage increases should be performance-based, because if you are offering higher wages to everyone who sticks around, regardless of the level of work they are performing, you are not motivating anyone.
Make sure that those who are performing at a high level are rewarded so that they can set an example for the rest of the housekeepers. Others might be inspired to step up their performances after seeing that putting in the effort does truly pay off.
Provide Equipment and Technology
Providing your housekeepers with new tools and the opportunities to learn new things can be an excellent motivator. It will serve your business in the long run as well by providing you with better-skilled employees. Your housekeepers will perform their jobs more quickly thanks to their ability to work with the latest and most effective housekeeping equipment.
Nowadays, not having some type of technology implemented that helps your housekeeping staff work better is considered a malpractice. Housekeeping software and apps are obviously great for helping housekeeping managers keep track of their properties, but they can also motivate staff.
Let's consider the benefits:
✔️ Clearer tasks
✔️ Streamlined processes
✔️ Eliminating outdated processes
✔️ Less stress and more reasonable workload
Housekeeping software offers incredibly useful tools like digital SOPs, where procedures are structured and available by departments, tasks, or positions. Housekeeping staff has an easy time finding what they need to complete the tasks. The software can also serve as a knowledge base that can be accessed by housekeepers via smartphones to answer any of their questions at any time.
Most software of this nature also includes housekeeping checklists to make it easier for staff to keep track of their work and report on completed tasks.
With such great technology available that makes the jobs of hotel managers and their staff much easier and more transparent, it’s hard to find a good reason not to get on board with some type of housekeeping software.
Show That You Value Them
Housekeeping staff members are often undervalued and underappreciated, not just by their employers, but by guests as well. When guests walk into a clean room, not many think about the people responsible for making it that way. Housekeeping is the least visible department since they usually do their work when no one else is around and wait until the guests leave their rooms to get to work.
It’s hard to feel motivated if you feel invisible. And while you can’t change the job and make it more customer-facing, as a hospitality manager you can make a concerted effort to make sure that you are recognizing the job that your housekeepers are doing.
Show your housekeepers they are valued by telling them so on a regular basis. Praise them in internal emails and in front of other staff. Your housekeeping staff is constantly behind the curtains; giving them a moment to shine in the spotlight now and then can go a long way towards showing them how appreciated they are.
A motivated staff is one of the pillars of a successful hotel. Hygiene and tidiness rank high on the list of criteria guests use when evaluating a hotel or any other hospitality establishment, so it’s clear that investing time, effort, and money into motivating the housekeeping staff can only pay off in the long run. It also creates a healthier, happier work environment for everyone involved in keeping the guests satisfied, which leads to happier guests.
Keep in mind that there are no shortcuts in this process and that improving and maintaining housekeepers’ motivation, productivity, and satisfaction is a process that never truly ends. Handing out a couple of coupons and raising a few salaries is not going to do anything for your hotel and its housekeeping staff in the long run.
That’s why it’s important to make systematic changes and implement long-term strategies towards not just increasing motivation temporarily but sustaining it.