This week Local Measure is sponsoring the Young Hotelier Summit, the world’s biggest student-run hospitality summit taking place at Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL), Switzerland. Every year the summit includes an Employer Ranking, based on a survey of over 1,800 participants. The results essentially represent what these budding leaders in hospitality look for and value in potential employers. When people are at the start of their career there is so much excitement and hope, and yet we know that less than half of the workforce characterises themselves as engaged.

Gallup, who publishes engagement survey results, defines ‘engaged employees’ as “those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” By this definition, a business is almost certainly bound for trouble if most of its workers are not engaged.

The importance of empowering hotel employees

The World’s Most Admired Companies (WMAC) is a reputation ranking of the world’s largest corporates. Mark Royal, a Senior Director at the consultancy that creates the ranking, has observed that “encouraging cross-company collaboration and empowering employees to make decisions and take risks are crucial to succeeding in the digital world.” This can also be applied to hotels, where much of the connection with guests happens in the digital space. Without empowered employees, a hotel limits its abilities to create a truly customer-centric culture.

The during-stay part of the guest experience demands prompt action in order to maintain service standards. The only way to deliver personalised experiences at scale is to decentralise service tasks, including online guest communication. When employees spot an unhappy guest or an opportunity to personalise service (either through an online channel or face-to-face) they need to feel empowered to take action. Here are four ways you can immediately empower your employees:

  • Seek employee input: The stronger the flow of communication between manager and employee the more likely the employee is to feel empowered. Involve your employees in defining what the best solution is in various service scenarios.  Allow them to decide for themselves the methods they will use to tackle different tasks.
  • Role-play training: Training enables employees to feel confident in their ability to manage a task. Role-play training, where someone acts as the guest in a hypothetical situation, is a way to practice impromptu decision making.
  • Foster employee instincts: Sometimes delivering the best service means going against the guidelines. Regarding the service guidelines, Nicholas Clayton from Jumeirah Group explains to staff, “Although this is a written standard and sometimes you’re tested against that, we would rather you make intelligent decisions.”
  • Reward action: Rewarding employees, even just verbally, boosts enthusiasm and confidence as well as reinforcing the standards of service. By rewarding your employees, you help them lead through positive examples. Employees must also understand how and why rewards are distributed in order for it to lead to empowerment.
The effects of an empowered workforce are two-fold: you raise the service capabilities of your hotel, leading to higher guest satisfaction; and you engage more employees, leading to a better reputation as an employer, which in-turn allows you to attract top talent.