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The Hospitality industry is infamous for staffing and employee retention issues. Job burnout and dissatisfaction are frequent challenges for hospitality managers and leaders.

With this in mind, it’s crucial for hotel managers and hospitality HR departments to invest in their employees well beyond just a paycheck. Below we share five employee incentive ideas that motivate hospitality staff while improving retention and longevity.

1. Atmosphere

When employees feel happy where they work, it makes everything run smoothly. Conversely, if employees feel unhappy, pressured, or oppressed, it can have a negative impact on everyone involved.

Hiring people who work well together helps create a family-like atmosphere that’s rooted in support and trust. This fosters a collaborative environment that allows employees to have a say in the company as well. Avoid a big brother culture where tattling and internal competition are encouraged. Instead, establish a family culture in which people support one another because they love the place they work.

One creative way to foster this type of atmosphere is by allowing employees to create and vote on incentives. For instance, employees may propose ideas to help improve the business, and coworkers review and vote on the concept. If a winning idea is accepted and implemented, the employee who came up with the strategy can receive a reward. This initiative can help create healthy competition that naturally incentivizes and supports positive sentiment among employees.

2. Career and Personal Development

Most millennials – who make up nearly a third of the workforce – seek jobs in which they can learn and grow. When investing in an opportunity, they often want a clear path of career progression and advancement.

Be open and let employees know what directions they can go if they stay with the company. Ask them where they see themselves and enable them to get there. With a mutual, clearly-defined goal in mind, everyone can have parallel expectations of what needs to happen – whether it involves training, acquiring new responsibility, and leveling-up in position.

Most employees appreciate being challenged. As a manager, establish ways to introduce new challenges and praise employees when they accomplish those challenges. You may develop specific programs in which people are rewarded for learning or taking on new tasks, such as completing courses, adopting a new duty or responsibility, or going above and beyond for guests.

Keeping your employees engaged and invested in their careers will help them feel like their work truly matters. And in turn, they will work harder for you.

3. Recognition

According to psychological studies, employee recognition impacts workplace performance. When people feel appreciated and loved, a physiological response occurs. The body releases oxytocin – the “love” hormone. Research shows that employees with greater oxytocin levels are more likely to be more trustworthy and better performers than employees who feel undervalued.

Recognizing employees for a job well done effectively boosts their trust, engagement, productivity, and retention. It can be as simple as a personal and private, “you did well today handling that angry customer,” or a public shoutout during a staff meeting.

Employee recognition can also be more formalized and structured. You can have a mix of monthly recognitions and thank you’s that acknowledge great work amongst staff members. Create a positive work culture in which other employees praise each other for a job well done. Overall, this type of positivity will be contagious and create an uplifting and meaningful working environment in which people want to show up to work.

4. Give Space

Nothing multiplies employee turnover more than micromanaging. Micromanaging is a signal to employees that you do not trust them to accomplish their job. A simple foundation to mitigate the tendency to micromanage is to clearly define what each employee has to accomplish each day in catchup meetings and let them get on with it.

Known as the Hawthorne effect, studies show that people who feel that they are being watched and monitored often perform lower. Micromanaging manifests itself in many ways. It’s essential that staff look professional and presentable, but is it appropriate to scold an employee because he forgot his tie for work? Not really. This behavior will only foster resentment.

If you treat employees like they are children, your operations will only suffer. Take care of the critical problems but don’t sweat the small stuff. Being supportive of your staff will only make them work harder for you, but punishment can have the opposite effect. Ensure your employees know that they can come to you with problems, but in a way that’s embracing and supportive. A workplace culture of trust will only grow if you refrain from over-management and micro-managing.

5. Flexibility

In Hospitality, providing flexible schedules may not come easy, as you can’t just have employees showing up within any given time window. However, you can listen to your employees’ individual needs and organize schedules that work around them whenever possible.

One survey found that 35% of millennials value schedule flexibility over pay among the top three factors in choosing an employee. The ultimate trend is that people want more control over their daily life. When most of your staff commutes to work on a 9-5 schedule, everyone is stuck in traffic at the same time. Hotel managers can create schedules that free up employee’s commute time by staggering arrivals and departures. In turn, this can allow people to make appointments, go to the post office, visit friends and family members, and balance other personal aspects of life.

Leveling with your employees and helping them work around their lives can pay dividends for better morale and retention. In the long run, it’ll benefit everyone because employees won’t want to leave what they see as a quality, understanding, and flexible relationship with their employer.

Employee incentives like these are effective ways to show those who work for you that you are invested in them so they can invest in you. The best incentive ideas don’t have to cost the company thousands of dollars per year. Instead, creative forms of recognition and support help your staff feel valued and appreciated.

This post is part of BlueprintRF’s entrepreneur series, a collection of articles intended to equip business owners and executives with the tools, information, and resources they need to thrive in the hospitality industry.

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We work with several major brands and management companies, including:

Marriott Guest WiFi Provider
Hilton Hotels and Resorts
Hyatt Hotels Network Service Provider
Great Wolf Lodge Network Services Provider
Bluegreen Vacations Network Service Provider