Ms. Moughan

Human Resources, Recruitment & Training

Improve Employee Engagement and Sharpen Your Competitive Edge

By Liz Moughan, Senior Director, Global Industry Practice Group, Kronos Incorporated

Leaders in the hotel and lodging industries know that employee engagement is intricately linked to guest satisfaction and loyalty, as how guests feel about their experiences is significantly impacted by their interactions with hotel staff. Underscoring the importance of guest experience is the fact that nearly 80% of guests delighted with their stay are certain to recommend a hotel compared to only 2% of disappointed guests.(1) While it's widely known and accepted that happier, more engaged employees have a positive effect on guest service, productivity, and retention, translating to competitive advantage, leadership often grapples with how to improve employee engagement and where to begin.

First, hotel and lodging companies need to define what employee engagement means to them. And how can the mutual commitment made by the employer and employees be reinforced effectively to truly create a "one team, one goal" culture that helps achieve the highest level of guest satisfaction? In a seasonal industry ripe with part time employees, high turnover is inevitable. It is essential to empower employees with tools to proactively address guest needs, ultimately helping to decrease turnover and absenteeism, increase morale and productivity, and keep guests satisfied and sharing positive reviews.

Technology Can Help

Advancements in human capital management (HCM) solutions offer an extremely effective way for hotel and lodging companies to achieve their organizational goals. This article will describe the importance of employee engagement in the hotel and lodging industries, introduce the concept of HCM, and provide specific ways in which HCM solutions can help hotel and lodging organizations foster a culture of engagement.

What Can We do to Improve Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement has quickly risen to the top of the list of concerns for companies around the world with 87% describing the issue as an important challenge.(2) And with only 13% of employees worldwide engaged in their jobs, it's safe to say that employee engagement is an issue most hotel and lodging companies have struggled with at one time or another.(3) While it is a difficult goal to attain, it is extremely important given the link between engagement, service, guest loyalty, and organizational growth.

So how can today's lodging companies consistently engage employees and reap all the related benefits? HCM, or the idea of improving the processes for managing people in the organization, can help. Consisting of solutions and practices spanning HR, payroll, time and attendance, employee scheduling, and more, HCM can help hotel and lodging operations manage and empower the asset that matters most - their people.

Superior Service is Critical to Success

Guest service is important in any industry, but it is absolutely vital in hotel and lodging. For example, it has been proven that poor guest service is the largest contributor to reductions in guest return rates - even over other areas such as guest rooms, events, and billing. In fact, the complaint of "employees don't care," is one of the most common comments guests post on hotel websites or social media channels.

But if every challenge is really an opportunity in disguise (as the old saying goes), delivering superior guest service is one of the best ways for hotel and lodging companies to drive repeat business. Unfortunately, it can be extremely difficult to motivate workers and keep them happy - and driven - on the job.

Why is this true? Hotel employees tend to work long hours, including second shifts, overnights, weekends, and holidays, contributing to low morale. What's more, many employees don't believe there is the opportunity for career advancement, leading to the perception that they would be more satisfied in a new position in a different industry. Finally, most lodging companies tend to rely on a high percentage of part-time or seasonal workers to meet guest demand. Unfortunately, these groups are usually not as committed to guest service as management would like.

Not only does all of this contribute to poor guest service - and often a damaged reputation for the hotel - but it also can lead to unnecessarily high levels of employee turnover. In fact, in a recent study, only 63 percent of hospitality employees reported an intention to work for their employer in the next year.(4)

Clearly, it's a tough balancing act, but it is an important one. Hotels and lodging companies today must continue to meet guest demand with the best possible staff members in order to deliver superior guest service. At the same time, they must keep the same staff satisfied and motivated to improve retention. With so much at risk, and so much competition ready to capitalize on missteps along the way, failure is simply not an option.

The Human Capital Management Solution

If you think about it, any organization's most valuable asset is its people. Yet without an effective strategy for managing employees in place, this asset could quickly turn into a liability. The value of HCM technology is in helping management position staff for success, automate and streamline key processes, and improve bottom-line results. Through a single, integrated platform, managers and associates can complete several tasks - from time and attendance to HR/payroll and scheduling - and avoid having to interact with multiple, disparate systems and applications to get their work done. Instead, they can take advantage of a comprehensive, unified suite of automated solutions that share a common user interface, database, and workflows, allowing them to stay focused on delivering the quality of service guests have come to expect.

The Benefits of Human Capital Management Solutions

HCM solutions deliver a number of significant benefits for today's hotel and lodging companies:

  • Improve employee engagement and retention
  • Enhance guest service and loyalty
  • Allow for better work-life fit
  • Deliver the perfect paycheck
  • Minimize compliance risks

Schedule the Right Employees at the Right Time - Every Time

In today's dynamic environment, hotel operators must continue to find ways to differentiate themselves through the quality of service they provide for their guests. On the one hand, this can be achieved through automated scheduling solutions that place employees with the right skill sets in the right places at the right times. An equally important consideration is to provide employees with schedules that help make their personal and work lives fit better. With an increasing focus on ensuring that organizations are investing in their associates - from empowering them with the tools to continuously improve to a push for fair schedules - having a solution to better manage these developments has never been more important.

Advanced, automated employee scheduling solutions let employees indicate their availabilities, and this is typically treated as a hard constraint, which cannot be violated. These solutions also allow employees to indicate their preferred work times to guide the scheduling process. Manually, it's almost impossible for managers to remember these details about employees when creating schedules. Automating these processes helps enforce employee availability and preference information correctly and uniformly so employees are not called for a shift during which they would prefer not to work. Allowing for further flexibility through shift swapping capabilities and the ability to collect direct feedback from employees can positively affect employee engagement, enhance guest service, and drive profit for hotel and lodging organizations.

Mobile Technology for Employees on the Go

Hotel operators can further empower mobile managers and remote employees to complete common tasks using mobile devices and applications.

Today, these types of employees want anywhere-anytime access to critical work-related information, such as schedules, vacation balances, or payroll. By putting employees in control and allowing them to request time off and view key information such as their accruals and schedules, from any device, at any time, mobile solutions can help this workforce segment maintain productivity when they can't be in front of a computer. Providing this type of self-service access to important data not only keeps employees in the know that their workforce information is accurate but also fosters loyalty and engagement, enhancing their connection to the organization.

Minimize Compliance Risk

Compliance efforts can be a real hassle - and a real risk. Yet with manual efforts, adhering to government regulations and union rules is difficult at best, and could subject the entire company to grievances, fines, lawsuits, and other penalties.

HCM solutions can help hotel and lodging companies save significant time and effort in compliance efforts, while easing concerns about compliance status. For example, powerful HCM technology automates the enforcement of federal, state, and employer-specific leave policies and requirements for a variety of leave types, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This technology can also support proactive management of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by providing the tools managers need to effectively manage healthcare benefit compliance for both regular and variable-hour employees, automate enrollment once they reach the eligibility threshold, and access both real-time and historical detail on ACA status. Additionally, managers have real-time, easy access to leave eligibility and availability information to minimize compliance risk.

A Better Way to Manage Employee Absence

Employee absences - whether planned or unplanned - can have a big impact on morale and productivity. In fact, absenteeism costs companies billions of dollars annually in lost productivity, wages, quality, and excess time.(5)

HCM solutions can help lodging organizations mitigate the effects of absenteeism - before performance suffers. Automating attendance policies, including disciplinary actions, and applying them consistently across your organization encourages employees to arrive and leave on time, reducing unnecessary absences and ensuring that all employees are complying with the same attendance and leave policies. With increased visibility into employee status and absence patterns, supervisors are empowered to apply your workplace policies more fairly and consistently.

HR: Manage the Entire Employment Lifecycle

As described, the ability to hire and retain the right employees is critical in the hotel and lodging industries. HCM technology helps in this area by providing an end-to-end solution that addresses the entire employee lifecycle.

Managers can use HR applications to review online applications and track candidates through the recruiting process or screen and hire best-fit candidates. The functionality can even accelerate onboarding processes so new hires can become productive - and start providing superior guest service - right out of the gate.

Payroll: Deliver the Perfect Paycheck

An increasingly complex regulatory environment places an unfair amount of burden on your payroll department. With meal/break rules, overtime pay, unions, minimum wage, and many other regulations, delivering the perfect paycheck to your staff is a constant challenge. HCM solutions can help payroll managers be in complete control of the entire process. By automating manual timekeeping processes, organizations can rely on a single source of truth that reduces or eliminates errors related to employee pay, helping them stay in compliance while also ensuring that their staff is being paid correctly. This can significantly boost employee satisfaction and decrease turnover.

The benefits of HCM are unparalleled in today's highly competitive hotel and lodging industry, impacting everyone in the company and the guest experience. HCM technology offers the opportunity of a competitive edge through more engaged employees and highly satisfied guests.

Human Capital Management at a Glance

HCM solutions deliver a single, unified experience and functionality to improve the way lodging companies manage their workforce:

  • Time and attendance
  • Accruals and absence management
  • Human resources
  • Payroll
  • Scheduling
  • Workforce analytics and reports
  • Mobile solutions
  • Cloud deployment

Maximize the Resource that Matters Most: Your Workforce

Today's hotel executives need to think about their people as an asset and primary indicator of profit as employee engagement is directly linked to guest satisfaction. With HCM solutions, hotels and lodging companies gain a better way to manage their employees and improve employee-centric processes, helping to create high performing teams and aligning them to company goals. While these improvements pay significant dividends in terms of increasing productivity, minimizing compliance risk, and managing costs, they also deliver a proven way to engage and motivate employees. And in turn, this adds up where it matters most: enhanced guest loyalty and an improved bottom line.


(1) J.D. Power 2015 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study
(2) Deloitte University Press, Global Human Capital Trends 2015
(3) Gallup, State of the Global Workplace, 2013
(4) TNS Employee Insights, "High Turnover in Hospitality," March 12, 2013
(5) Investopedia, "The Causes and Costs of Absenteeism in the Workplace," Forbes.com, July 10, 2013. /http://www.forbes.com/sites/ investopedia/2013/07/10/the-causes-and-costs-of-absenteeism-in-the-workplace/

As senior director of the global industry practice group at Kronos Incorporated, Liz Moughan is tasked with determining the companyís strategic direction across sectors globally. She is also responsible for partnering across sales, services, and customer support to achieve sales growth and customer satisfaction goals. Ms. Moughan joined Kronos in 2003, and since then has served in various marketing roles, most recently as head of the retail and hospitality practice group. Among her notable accomplishments, Ms. Moughan played a key role in the launch of Kronos mobile workforce management solutions working cross functionally with various engineering, marketing, and sales teams. She also frequently travels across the world to talk to Kronos customers and partners, and is well versed in global workforce management strategies. Ms. Moughan can be contacted at 978-250-9800 or lmoughan@kronos.com Please visit http://www.kronos.com for more information. Extended Bio...

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