There are few professions in which engagement is felt by so many people as it is in hospitality. Not only does hospitality require the support of dozens if not hundreds of employees, but smooth running also requires frequent work with contractors for everything from maintenance and cleaning to flower arrangements and pillow-mints.

And of course, there are the guests. A hotel’s success depends on its guests’ experiences, reviews, and word-of-mouth referrals, and those experiences rest on the shoulders of every employee and contractor.

If engagement falls at any level, the effect will be immediately noticed by someone. And odds are, that someone has an account on TripAdvisor.

More and more boutique hotel owners have been coming to Engagement Multiplier, which we love to see. They’re finding that improving engagement for their boutique hotel companies not only creates a better work environment but also solves some of their biggest challenges – like recruitment and retention.

Hospitality’s Challenges: Recruitment and Retention

The hospitality sector has one of the highest turnover rates of any industry, topping 70 percent in 2016 according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Turnover like that contributes to a “revolving door culture” – which is the polar opposite of an engaged culture.

What makes hospitality employees stay?

A 2016 survey revealed that 75 percent of hospitality employees decide whether or not to accept a job offer based on whether it’s “interesting work.” Opportunities for career development and better work/life balance were also considered highly important.

“Interesting” is a subjective term that is inherently connected with engagement. If we are engaged, we are interested – and if we are interested, we are very likely to also be engaged.

We’re also interested when we are invested in a larger purpose, and understand how the tasks we do every day contribute to that larger purpose.

At Engagement Multiplier, all of our work begins by defining that larger purpose – what we call an “Engaged Purpose.” The Engaged Purpose is a rallying point everyone in the company can proudly stand behind and work towards together.

Doing it Right Spotlight: Kimpton

One outstanding example of a purpose-driven boutique hotel company is Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, a collection of more than 60 boutique hotels recently acquired by IHG.

Kimpton ranked #37 on Glassdoor’s list of Best Places to Work in 2018, and their “mission” reads exactly like an Engaged Purpose:

“Our shared mission is to make people’s lives better through heartfelt human connections. It’s a level of emotional investment you won’t find elsewhere. It’s what drives all that we do, and it’s what inspires a sense of belonging for our guests and employees alike.”

Kimpton is a larger boutique chain than we currently work with here at Engagement Multiplier, but they’re an excellent example of how the core values that create the foundation for engagement can scale.

In addition to having a larger purpose for employees to connect with, Kimpton also addresses the other important criteria for hospitality workers choosing jobs – or choosing to stay in their positions: growth opportunities and better work/life balance.

Kimpton offers employees online and in-class learning opportunities through Kimpton University, a mentorship program, and a manager-in-training program. What’s especially interesting though is that their educational offerings aren’t just about leadership and management, but also include “self-insight” classes on diversity and inclusion, wellness, stress management, personal financial management, ESL, and work/life balance.

From their Glassdoor profile:
“The idea is to help our Kimpton family grow as people, not just as workers.”

These are some of the most important raw ingredients for engagement, and the proof of their efficacy is evident in their Glassdoor reviews.

As with any review site, Glassdoor tends to attract people who come just to air their grievances. But Kimpton’s reviews are overwhelmingly positive, with a 97 percent approval rating for the CEO, and 83 percent who would recommend the company to a friend.

One review from a 9+ year employee reads:
“I have stuck around not because of the benefits and family atmosphere, but because of how each leader I’ve worked with has invested in me.”

This is exactly the kind of relationship with the leadership we work to help our clients achieve in any industry because the positive feelings employees have when they feel like they’ve been invested in translates into how they treat guests. When your end ‘product’ is the feeling of satisfaction and well-being of each guest, service that comes from genuine care is of paramount importance. But you can’t ask your employees to genuinely care about each guest if you don’t make it clear that you genuinely care about each employee.

And that begins with listening to them.

Mass industry surveys can provide a starting point for leaders to understand what employees value most, but nothing takes the place of giving your employees a platform to tell you what they need to do the best job possible.

Do you know what your employees need to feel engaged?