The Ultimate Guide to Managing Hotel Staff for Success

Bryan Michalis
Bryan Michalis
June 14, 2024
October 23, 2023
The Ultimate Guide to Managing Hotel Staff for Success

Hotels perform better when employees are engaged with their work. An engaged workforce leads to higher profits, reduced turnover and happier guests. Research from Gallup shows that customer loyalty and engagement, profitability, and productivity are the top three performance outcomes when employees are engaged at work.

It sounds simple, but how do you manage your hotel staff to help you achieve this year's revenue targets? Start by understanding how to create a productive workforce, and then put a robust strategy in place to begin empowering, streamlining, training and more.

How a Well-Managed Hotel Workforce Unlocks Your Success

We know that better staff management leads to higher productivity. It ensures employees are well-trained, motivated, and equipped to perform their jobs efficiently. But what does that productivity unlock? Here are a few results you’ll see by managing your hotel staff effectively:

  1. Enhanced Guest Satisfaction: Well-trained and motivated staff are more likely to provide excellent customer service, leading to higher guest satisfaction. Happy guests are more likely to return and recommend your hotel to others.
  3. Improved Reputation: Positive guest experiences result in better online reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations. If your hotel has a reputation for excellent staff management, it is likely to attract new guests.
  5. Reduced Staff Turnover: If employees are satisfied with their jobs and see growth opportunities, they’ll be less likely to quit. And that saves you money and time on recruitment and training. Gallup reports that replacing employees costs organizations one-half to two times the employee’s salary.

Reduce hotel staff turnover with smart management
  1. Cost Savings: Efficient staff management can lead to cost savings through better resource allocation, reduced overtime and lower turnover-related expenses.
  3. Consistency in Service: Well-managed staff ensures consistency in service quality. This is crucial for maintaining your hotel's reputation and meeting guest expectations.
  5. Adaptability: Fluctuating guest numbers, a burst pipe, or last-minute call-ins—managing your staff well leads to better adaptability to changing circumstances. Happy, well-trained employees are more likely to be prepared in the event of unexpected situations.
  7. Increased Revenue: Satisfied guests are more likely to spend money on additional services, such as dining, spa treatments and recreational activities, leading to increased revenue. Gallup reports that when employees are highly engaged, businesses see an increase of 23% in profitability.
  9. Compliance and Safety: Proper staff training and management ensure that employees adhere to safety regulations and industry standards, reducing the risk of accidents or legal issues.
  11. Innovation and Guest Loyalty: Engaged and motivated employees are more likely to contribute innovative ideas and ways to improve the guest experience. Loyal employees are more likely to build lasting relationships with repeat guests.

Why Managing Hotel Staff Isn’t Always Easy

Being a general manager is a tough job. You need to build a reliable, hardworking and happy workforce to maximize revenue and guest satisfaction. And if that wasn’t enough, there are a whole host of challenges to contend with along the way.

Finding ways to solve and avoid these challenges is rewarding and makes success all the more sweeter. Here are a few challenges you’re likely to experience:

  • Battling High Turnover Rates: Having a high turnover rate is costly. Replacing an employee is said to cost 6 - 9 months’ salary on average. Morale and productivity are also impacted when an employee leaves. According to Gallup, employees who are engaged but suffering in their lives or thriving but not engaged have a 14% annualized turnover rate.
  • Employing a Diverse Workforce: Hotels employ people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Many speak different languages. Managing a culturally diverse team is challenging in terms of communication, understanding and addressing individual needs.
  • Scheduling Staff: Creating efficient work schedules that balance employee preferences, labor laws, and hotel occupancy can be complicated. Overtime management is also crucial to control labor costs.
  • Training Staff: Continuous training and development are essential for maintaining service quality and staff productivity, but finding time and resources for ongoing education can be difficult.
  • Managing Occupancy Fluctuations: Hotels often experience fluctuations in occupancy, leading to overstaffing during peak seasons and understaffing during slow periods. Managing labor costs while maintaining service standards can be a balancing act.
  • Increasing Employee Engagement: According to Gallup, disengaged employees cost the world $8.8 trillion in lost productivity. Motivating and engaging a diverse hotel workforce is crucial. Low employee morale can lead to poor customer service, lower productivity and increased turnover.
  • Complying with Labor Laws and Regulations: Staying compliant with labor laws, including minimum wage, overtime, and workplace safety regulations, is essential but can be complex and subject to change.

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  • Dealing with Declining Tips: Fewer and fewer people carry cash today which means tipping is becoming less frequent. According to Canary’s 2023 State of Tipping Hotels, compared to five years ago, 33% of hotel workers say that they receive significantly fewer tips than they did five years ago. Twenty percent said slightly less.

Want to increase tips to attract and retain staff? Canary Digital Tipping  increases staff compensation, without hurting a hotel's bottom line. To learn more, demo Canary Digital Tipping today.

15 Effective Tips for Managing Hotel Staff

1. Communicate Clearly

According to a study by Brunel University London, internal communications strategies lead to an increase in employee trust and engagement.

Fortunately, communication in the hotel industry is already a must in delivering exceptional customer service. This means staff members likely understand key communication concepts such as verbal vs. non-verbal communication.

As a general manager, it can be tricky to find communication techniques and tools that work for everyone. You may have a mix of nationalities, personalities, and neurodivergence to consider. Brunel suggests the following communication strategies are important, so start there:

  • Open communication channels: Provide transparent and easily accessible methods for employees to express their thoughts, concerns and ideas to their superiors, colleagues or management.
  • Consistent feedback: Enable a regular exchange of information between supervisors and employees regarding performance, expectations and areas for improvement.
  • Information sharing: Regularly share news, policies and procedures that enable employees to perform their roles effectively.

2. Offer Comprehensive Training

Comprehensive training will help you retain staff and improve your hotel’s performance. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

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  • Identify training needs: Conduct a thorough assessment of the current skills and competencies of your staff.
  • Blend learning methods: Cater to various learning styles using a mix of learning methods, including in-person training, e-learning modules, on-the-job training, and workshops.
  • Invest in leadership training: According to Gallup, managers account for 70% of an employee’s engagement. Training your leaders is a great way to ensure good leadership strategies across the board.

3. Empower Your Team

Empowerment boosts morale and enhances problem-solving capabilities. Trust your hotel staff to make decisions within their authority to resolve guest issues or handle routine tasks. Here are a few ways to do just that:

  • Delegate responsibility: Entrust employees with tasks and decision-making authority within their roles, allowing them to take ownership.
  • Encourage initiative: Promote a culture of innovation and encourage employees to proactively suggest improvements or new ideas.
  • Foster a supportive work environment: Cultivate a work culture where employees feel supported, valued, and comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns.

4. Schedule Staff Efficiently

Overstaffing and understaffing are costly predicaments. Too many employees at once, and you’re wasting money. Too few employees and your customer service will suffer. Here are a few ways to ensure this doesn’t happen:

  • Use technology: Utilize labor management software that automates the process. It will take into account factors like occupancy levels and employee preferences.
  • Forecast occupancy: Use historical data and occupancy forecasts to predict busy periods and adjust staffing levels accordingly.
  • Flexible scheduling: Implement flexible scheduling options to accommodate employees' preferences and needs, such as part-time, split shifts, or compressed workweeks.

5. Provide Recognition and Rewards

Workhuman found that organizations can save up to $16.1 million in annual turnover when they prioritize recognition. Recognizing and rewarding your hotel staff for their outstanding performance boosts morale and productivity. This leads to happier employees and happier guests. Here are a few ways you could recognize and reward your staff:

  • Employee of the Month: Establish an Employee of the Month program and publicly recognize the recipient with a certificate, plaque, or trophy.
  • Performance bonuses: Offer monetary bonuses or incentives for achieving specific performance goals or milestones.
  • Professional development: Sponsor employees' attendance at workshops or training programs to support their career growth.

6. Focus on Wellness

Wellness programs are the next big thing in hospitality. And there’s a reason for that: Employee burnout is becoming a major issue in the hospitality industry. And Gallup reported that 76% of employees experience it at least sometimes.

Wellness programs are a great way to create a healthier, more resilient workforce, which in turn reduces the likelihood that staff will quit or take sick leave due to stress.

For example, encouraging a work-life balance, providing mental health support, and offering stress management workshops. Offer Employee Assistance Programs to provide confidential support for personal or work-related challenges.

7. Offer Performance Feedback

Gallup found that only 19% of employees believe their performance is being measured in a way that motivates them to work hard. Performing regular performance reviews helps improve your employees’ performance and allows you to identify any areas for improvement.

Performance reviews are also a great opportunity to gather feedback on your leadership or understand how happy your employees are in their jobs. This allows you to resolve issues head-on and prevent staff from leaving. Don’t forget to use this time to commend your staff on the great job they are doing too!

8. Implement Automation and Technology

Technology allows you to automate tedious processes, free up time for your staff, and provide exceptional customer service. And today, it’s essential to manage your staff effectively.

Staff scheduling systems, time and attendance tracking, training and eLearning platforms, and communication tools are just a few solutions to create an efficient and productive hotel workforce. Canary Contactless Checkout, for example, notifies housekeeping when rooms become available.

9. Set Management Expectations During the Hiring Process

Recruiting good staff members makes managing them easier. Be upfront, clear, and specific about what they can expect from a job at your hotel. When hiring and interviewing, focus on:

  • Providing detailed job descriptions: Provide detailed job descriptions that outline roles, responsibilities, and performance expectations.
  • Assessing for cultural fit: During interviews, assess the candidate's values, work style, and alignment with your hotel's culture and values.
  • Communicating performance standards: Communicate performance standards and metrics that will be used to evaluate their performance.

10. Build Conflict Resolution Skills

Whether you’re dealing with an argument between chefs or a challenging situation with a guest, conflict resolution skills are essential. They help you support your staff and maintain a harmonious work environment. Take workshops and training courses designed specifically for this purpose and remember the following tips when encountering conflict within your hotel:

  • Practice empathy: Develop empathy by putting yourself in others' shoes to understand their perspectives and feelings during conflicts.
  • Stay calm: Practice staying calm and composed when faced with conflict, as emotional reactions can escalate the situation.
  • Active problem-solving: Focus on identifying the root causes of conflicts and work collaboratively to find solutions that address those issues.

11. Lead by Example

Leading by example is a powerful way for you to set the tone for your teams and employees in other leadership positions. Staff look up to leaders and observe their behavior. It’s important to model your hotel’s values and act the way you’d like your team to act.

An important part of this is the way you interact with guests. Model the customer service, attitude, and sincerity and your team will follow suit.

12. Cross-Train Staff Members

Cross-training staff members in various roles and departments can significantly improve flexibility, teamwork and overall operational efficiency. This will give you a versatile workforce capable of adapting to changing demands, reducing staffing gaps, and improving overall hotel management.

Identify roles and departments where cross-training can be beneficial, considering staff skills and departmental needs. Then, develop structured cross-training plans outlining specific tasks and skills staff will need to learn.

A top tip: implement rotation schedules where employees spend designated periods in different departments and roles. This is a great way to give a wider pool of employees the knowledge and experience, allowing them to cover when their colleagues are off sick or on vacation.

13. Implement a Guest Feedback Loop

Implementing a guest feedback loop leads to a better guest experience, improved hotel management practices, and ultimately more revenue. This is a continuous systematic process used to collect, analyze, and respond to feedback from their guests.

Guest feedback loops help you understand your guest experience and identify areas in your operations for improvement. They allow you to address guest concerns as soon as they occur. Offer various channels for guests to leave feedback and encourage your staff to ask for verbal feedback.

Implement a Guest Feedback Loop

14. Promote Diversity and Inclusion

Everyone wants to feel included and accepted in the workplace. Create a welcoming and equitable workplace, where employees feel valued and listened to. Here are a few ways you can foster diversity and inclusion in your hotel:

  • Hire diversely: Actively seek diverse talent during the hiring process, considering candidates from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences.
  • Develop inclusive policies: Establish and communicate clear diversity and inclusion policies, ensuring staff understand their importance. These might include diverse hiring initiatives, anti-discrimination and harassment policies or anonymous reporting channels.
  • Zero tolerance for discrimination: Enforce a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination, harassment, or bias, and take swift action when violations occur.

15. Develop a Succession Plan

With turnover rates as high as 74% in the hotel and lodging industry, ensuring you have staff ready to step up in the event of a resignation will help you prepare for uncertainty and keep performance high. Coaching employees for leadership positions also encourages their professional development. Here’s how to begin:

  • Identify important roles: Identify critical positions within the hotel, such as department heads, managers and other leadership roles that require succession planning.
  • Assess talent: Assess skills, competencies and potential of existing employees to identify high-potential individuals who could fill roles in the future.
  • Implement leadership development programs: Implement leadership development programs to provide training and mentoring opportunities for high-potential employees.

Great Hotel Staff Management Begins with You

When you create a workforce employees are proud of, the benefits for your hotel business are many. This includes increased revenue, happier guests, increased customer loyalty and lower staff turnover.

Continuously monitor and update your hotel staff management strategy to help you track your progress and identify strategies that aren’t working.

Learn How Canary Can Help Your Properties Thrive

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