Guest Blog Post: How to foster hotel staff engagement (& time management) 

Naturally Loyal shares 5 tips to help your hotel staff be more engaged, & your operations more efficient

We all have times when there simply doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day, and we run out of time to get everything we’d planned completed. And this might be happening to your hotel team members. 

When this happens a lot, it can be frustrating and disheartening – not just for you, but for your team members too.

So if you’re finding that your hotel staff are struggling to keep up with daily tasks, or are feeling less engaged, it is worth finding out why. 

More than this, it is worth introducing helpful changes to assist both staff engagement at a personal level, and hotel efficiency at a higher level. 

Smart tools & staff support are crucial to hotel efficiency

If your hotel staff seem to be missing deadlines, or neglecting small tasks, it is important to remember that this isn’t deliberate.  In fact, it is usually quite the opposite. 

It can be very frustrating for your staff if they don’t know what’s expected of them for instance, as this might make them feel under pressure, because they feel they cannot meet task standards. 

This frustration is heightened even further when they don’t have access to the tools or support they need to feel and be more engaged at work. Smart tools and staff support are crucial to hotel efficiency.

When your staff feel under pressure, or aren’t provided with the tools or time needed to do their job, 1 of 4 things can happen:

  • Staff complete tasks, but rush them and don’t put as much effort in, potentially resulting in mistakes that could have otherwise been avoided.
  • Staff make time for tasks by cutting corners or dropping other important tasks to make time (and potentially do not know which tasks to prioritise more).
  • Staff complete tasks but only by having to put in extra time, which puts them under stress and makes them feel overworked.
  • Or, staff simply don’t do the task at all! 

In the hotel industry, an example where staff could be feeling overwhelmed due to not being provided with the tools or time they need to complete their job, is the hotel’s use of a poorly designed hotel management system. 

Many hotels use slow, out-of-date systems that are confusing for staff members, and take hours of manual administration, which results in mistakes made, and valuable time wasted, that staff could have dedicated to fostering the guest experience, if they had been equipped with the right tools. 

Smart software & staff organisation tools are invaluable to your hotel business

Having smart systems in your business (like Preno) can make a world of a difference – not just because they help provide you with valuable insights, but they can also make a huge difference to staff engagement (and job satisfaction).

So how can you emulate that productivity elsewhere?

If you or your managers believe there should be time to do all that’s expected in the time available without resorting to any of the above, it’s important to identify what’s getting in the way. Yes, it is possible the team member doesn’t recognise the importance of the task, but many a time there’s something else getting in the way. And the good news is, often something simple to remedy.

Here are 5 possible factors at play, any one of which can help people in your team to get more done.

 

1. Clarify priorities

People who have been doing the same job for years, will no doubt have a set routine and tasks they’ve always carried out.

If you’ve added new tasks (such as extra procedures to comply with Covid-19 guidelines) to their already full schedule, unless they understand which of their original tasks are now a lower priority – and that they can now drop to free up time – they’ll very likely feel the need to carry on with these too and feel overwhelmed, doing too much.

If the tasks they can now drop are tasks which they’ve always enjoyed or took pride in doing well, these may be things it’s difficult for them to give up. Be careful not to give the impression these tasks weren’t valued, or the standards they’ve maintained in the past aren’t appreciated. 

If your team members report to different managers on different shifts, ensure each and every manager is placing the same level of importance on each task, so there are no mixed messages.

Tip: Putting the right tools in place to help hotel staff adapt to new procedures can be the difference between an overwhelmed staff member and a happy staff member. For example, a contactless check-in app, and a powerful hotel management system, would help staff adapt to new Covid-19 procedures, and help them feel less overwhelmed. 

 

2. The time it takes

Give team members guidelines for how long a task should take. If people aren’t getting through all of their tasks in the expected time frame, it’s worth analysing their approach. There might just be one or two aspects or hurdles, keeping them from completing tasks quickly.

If the task is new, or you’ve changed the process in some way, recognise it may take time for staff to get up to speed. For example, if you’ve introduced new software, you’ll sometimes find some employees feel a little nervous at first, so a little encouragement and reassurance might be all that’s needed to embrace the change.

Most modern hotel software systems (like Preno) are easy to learn and make staff day-to-day much less stressful. So ensure to remind your staff that any changes like this, may seem scary, but will actually be very beneficial. 

 

3. Systems or equipment 

Tasks can take longer than they should (or simply be put off indefinitely) if people don’t have all the resources they need, or the tools aren’t up to the task. 

For example:

  • Sometimes it’s only when you’ve worked with smart systems in some areas of your business that you realise just what a boon they can be. Are there other functions where the technology is leaving your team wanting? 
  • You no doubt review your customer journey regularly. Do the same with your employee journey to ensure team members don’t have to go back and forth, for supplies, or information. Many hotel staff spend way too much time on manual administration, when hoteliers could simply put in place software to do this for them. 
  • Sometimes a simple checklist is all that’s needed, so that nobody ends up forgetting things, and you avoid any back and forth to complete the task. 
  • Having SOPs in place which means firstly there’s consistency, and secondly no wasted time re-inventing the wheel every time the same task is performed. 
  • Having a maintenance schedule for key equipment that’s easy to implement and track, means it’s always working as it should. E.g. your housekeeping team isn’t dependent on inefficient vacuum cleaners, meaning it takes twice as long as it should to vacuum rooms. 

The quickest and easiest way to identify if any of your systems or equipment are not as efficient as they could be is to ask your team; they’re the ones using them every day and will often know exactly what currently wastes valuable time. 

If you’re hearing from your team time and time again that hotel systems are slow, confusing, or are causing errors or upset guests, it’s clear that your property’s software needs to be updated. Listen to your staff. 

 

4. Streamline the process

Every so often you’ll get an unintended bottleneck in the system, such as when your team members are dependent on others – colleagues, suppliers or customers.

For example:

  • If someone needs to sign off on something or further information from a customer or manager, but that customer or manager isn’t available.
  • If the task can’t be completed until a supplier has delivered something needed for the task, and this invariably arrives at the last minute.
  • There’s a key piece of equipment (e.g. access to a powerful hotel management system) needed to complete the task but it’s not accessible for some reason. 

E.g. Many old hotel software systems are only accessible from one device. You should be updating your system to a cloud-based solution that allows multiple staff members to login from multiple devices. It is not efficient for just front desk staff to have access on only one computer – all staff should be able to access from their phones for instance. 

 

5. Making time for what’s important

All too often key tasks simply never get started due to the number of re-active tasks, distractions or interruptions people have to deal with, all diverting them away from what’s important. Every time someone gets interrupted or has to switch tasks it has a price, and when anyone tries to do two things at once they end up not having the time or concentration to do the tasks as well as they could. 

Put in place clear priorities for each department and individual staff member at your hotel. Ensure that they all have the tools needed, and know which tasks should have more time spent on them than others.

 

Take action

If you only do one thing, next time someone tells you they didn’t have time to complete something important, stop and ask questions to analyse why. And if it’s down to one of the above reasons, take action to remedy the situation for next time.

If you are hearing time and time again issues in your hotel, make a positive change to help your staff members. This will, in turn, improve your hotel processes. 

 

About this Guest Author: Caroline, Founder of Naturally Loyal

Caroline is the Founder of Naturally Loyal, and has over 30 years’ training and development experience in hospitality. 

Recognising that managers in hospitality often get promoted into management positions without much management development, her key focus is on helping newly promoted and junior managers to be confident to lead and engage their teams effectively.

You can download her free A-Z of Managing People here: www.naturallyloyal.com/preno 

About the author

Preno's Marketing Campaigns Manager, Scott Martin, is a Kiwi marketer with experience in the hospitality sector in NZ & AUS. His industry knowledge is put to good use here at Preno, working alongside hoteliers to showcase ways technology can make their lives easier. He is also a passionate videographer, with a slight sausage dog obsession.