There's no better way to build a thriving hospitality business than to engage people who drive it forward every day. After all, the employee experience you create has a direct impact on employee satisfaction and productivity

But don't just take our word for it. 

  • According to Hubspot, 69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt more appreciated.
  • Research from Workplace Insight shows that 77% of employees working at companies that perform well financially are highly or moderately engaged, compared to 49% of employees working in companies that aren’t performing that well.
  • A Gallup study found that highly engaged workplaces have 41% less absenteeism.

So whether you work as an HR or people manager for a hospitality company, or you're a business owner, there are plenty of reasons to make the employee experience your focus.

In light of that, we're revealing a few surefire tips on how to achieve exactly that.

Let's dive in!

What Does 'Employee Experience' Mean?

First off, we want to ensure everyone's on the same page by defining what 'employee experience' actually refers to. 

In short, employee experience describes your staff's overall perception of working for your company. 

  • What experiences do they walk away with every day?
  • How do they feel about their role? Their leaders? Their future with the company?
  • What memories have they made? What were their first months at your business like?
  • Are the facilities they have access to high-quality?
  • Do they have healthy relationships with other team members?

The answers to these questions are just a few of the contributing factors that make your 'employee experience.' 

Why Does Employee Experience Matter?

Employee experience matters because it has a knock-on effect on employee engagement. Both big and small events feed into the employee experience, and typically speaking, the better their experience, the more engaged employees are. 

A Gallup study of nearly 200 organizations across 34 countries found that businesses with high employee engagement usually benefit from the following:

  • Staff are 25% less likely to leave your company, meaning you'll save money and time having to replace them. 
  • Happier staff members tend to be 21% more productive, innovative, and collaborative.
  • Businesses with higher staff engagement levels are overall 22% more profitable.

Employee engagement is especially important in hospitality, where this energy trickles down to the customer. 

Make no mistake - employee experience directly impacts the customer experience too. Companies with upper engaged employees get 10% more customer ratings (Gallup study). It’s the difference between your hospitality staff greeting customers with an earnest smile and providing an authentic encounter or your team begrudgingly forcing their way through a dictated process. Needless to say, how vital customer satisfaction is to your profit margins.

So, what can you do to make the employee experience a win-win all around? 

Here are some valuable tips:

1. Establish Leadership Teams Employees Gladly Follow

Most employees don’t leave their job because of their role but because of their frustration with their managers. A Gallup report shows that as many as 75% of workers quit due to their boss(es).

The moral of the story? Your leadership team will make or break the employee experience.

That’s why putting great leaders into managerial positions is imperative. Connecting with the team and winning their respect is vital. A great manager should consistently acknowledge good work and provide feedback. They should also help their staff manage their workload and be available for questions. 

On top of that, often overlooked management qualities is their capacity for compassion, making them easy to talk to. While harder to quantify, managers should motivate, not intimidate, and inspire rather than force. These are the kinds of people you need on your leadership team to boost employee engagement. 

2. Nail the Onboarding Experience 

Often, the employee experience is dictated by moments that matter the most. Critical milestones crop up along the employee journey, and onboarding is one of the earliest. The first few weeks and months at a new company are the most nerve-wracking for new staff. 

There’s evidence to support this. A Gallup study found that only 12% of employees believed their company did an excellent job of onboarding them. A further survey by Bamboo HR found that employees who had a positive onboarding experience were 30% more likely to feel embedded in their company’s culture and 30 times more likely to be happy in their job. 

You can elevate their experience by providing a top-notch onboarding process. If you're unsure where to begin, here are a few pointers:

  • Ensure all their equipment is set up and ready to use for their first day.
  • Assign someone to explain how all the systems work, where the facilities are, and introduce them to their team.
  • Clarify their job role, so they know what's expected from the get-go.
  • Set goals and tasks for the first few weeks that are easy to obtain and keep track of.
  • Ensure someone checks in on them regularly. 
  • Provide feedback on their early work. 
  • Provide access to an employee handbook so that they're familiar with your policies on sick days, booking holidays, paydays, complaints, etc.

3. Reinforce Your Company Culture at Every Level

The truth is, many candidates remain at a company longer when they share the business's values and understand its mission. These days, many employees join a company specifically for its cause (especially Millennials) - it’s no longer just all about the money! 

A LinkedIn Workplace Culture Report found that 86% of Millennials would think about taking a salary drop to work at a company whose values and mission fit with their own. 

This is one reason why keeping your values alive within your daily operations is essential to maintaining a good employee experience. First and foremost, this means acting according to those values and employing managers who are role models for these behaviours. 

When Fortune released its 2020 list of Best US Companies to Work For, there were five hotel chains in the top 100, with Hilton taking the number 1 slot. Fortune expressly referred to leadership’s commitment to changing workplace culture and offering staff a travel program, parental leave, and worldwide Hilton hotel discounts.

4. Listen to Feedback, and Act Where Possible

Your employees can provide valuable feedback on their experience and how it might be improved. Don’t hesitate to send out pulse surveys to get an accurate feel of their thoughts. 

For instance, hospitality company Cargill switched its attention from annual appraisals to regular employee pulse surveys instead. The food producer and distributor increased employee engagement by almost 40%.  

But getting feedback isn’t enough. You also need to put it into action so that employees feel heard and appreciated. Back to that Fortune 100 Best Workplaces in the US list and at number 10 on the list are Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, where employees said their employer is: always seeking ways to improve and develop new efficient ways of doing things. No such thing as a bad idea here. Hard work is noticed and praised.”

5. Make the Workplace a Pleasant Place to Be

With an average of 34.4 hours a week (The Balance) spent in workplaces, it’s important this time isn’t tainted with various niggling pain points. 

You can subtly lift the employee experience by providing small yet frequent perks. 

For instance:

  • Hosting social events
  • Decorating the break room
  • Employee discounts

What Will You Do to Improve Employee Experience?

As we've demonstrated, there are lots of ways to increase employee engagement. No matter what approach you take, it all starts with human connection and fulfilling basic needs. Employees need to feel supported, appreciated, and in the loop about where the company is headed. Meet these needs, and you're sure to prevent high turnover and protect your bottom line.