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Hotel Employee Engagement and Retention Continues to Be a Challenge

New Research Reveals that More than Half of Worldwide Hotel Employees Are Considering a Job Change in 2022

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New research from Achievers Workforce Institute, the research and insights arm of Achievers, points to a continued battle to retain employees and keep them engaged. The fifth annual Engagement & Retention Report finds that 44% of US employees plan to look for a new job in 2022. Globally, that figure increases to 66% of employees considering a 2022 job hunt. Other research highlights include:

  • The main reason nearly a quarter (24%) are looking for a new job is for career progression, followed by better compensation and benefits (21%).
  • Nearly three in five (59%) employees say that their professional development has taken a backseat.
  • Less than a third (30%) of employees feel a very strong sense of belonging at work and nearly a fifth (18%) do not feel a strong sense of belonging.

“The continuing pandemic and introduction of the Great Resignation has put a strain on workforces, diminishing company culture, career progression, and engagement. This spike in turnover and the isolation of remote work has contributed to a weaker sense of belonging for many employees,” said Achievers’ chief workforce scientist, Dr. Natalie Baumgartner. “This lack of belonging is pushing workers out the door as they pursue new job opportunities with the hope of finding a workplace they feel valued and supported in.”

While this research is not specific to the travel & hospitality sector, it is safe to say that those in this hard-pressed segment are being greatly affected by the precarious ups and downs in the market with many choosing to move on to other opportunities or take a break from the workforce. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ revised January employment report, “quit levels” for those in the accommodation and food services category are at the highest rates of any industry (6.1% in December 2021). While the journey to full travel recovery is still in its beginning stages, and it is unforeseen how long the labor shortage will continue, hotels are employing solutions to gain insights into how their employees are doing and giving them access to benefits that could result in a deeper level of commitment and fulfillment.

Rocco Forte Hotels, a grouping of 15 individual hotels and resorts in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Russia, and the UK, that employs more than 1,600 people is launching a new employee engagement and happiness program in partnership with The Happiness Index. It is a neuroscience-backed employee engagement and happiness platform that enables employees to provide feedback whenever and wherever they want, and analyzes the workplace culture in depth for each individual hotel. It helps the hotel chain prioritize initiatives and gives insights on appropriate actions.

Jan Nielsen, VP group HR & operational support for Rocco Forte Hotels says, “Despite the global pandemic proving incredibly tough for our sector, we have continued to keep our people at the heart of our business. All our hotels run independently, rather than as a chain operation and we know that our people are an amazing source of new ideas and energy. Creating a long-term strategy with The Happiness Index will enable us to better listen and understand how our people are thinking and feeling to drive a stronger people strategy within each of our locations.”

Hyatt recently announced it would be deploying Medallia’s Zingle platform, which allows for two-way messaging across 1,000 properties. This solution allows guests to communicate with property employees in real time using whatever channel they prefer—SMS test, in-app, web chat, or social messaging apps like WhatsApp. While typically used for guest engagement, Hyatt plans to also deploy the technology that will allow for daily colleague pulse surveys, creating a flow of real-time employee feedback at the property level.

“In an environment where hospitality teams are dealing with labor challenges and the constantly shifting expectations of their guests, understanding customers and employees and being able to communicate with them in real time is mission critical,” said Medallia CEO, Leslie Stretch.

Hospitality behemoth Hilton announced a partnership with continuing education firm Guild Education that will give employees access to a wide range of coursework, resulting in educational credentials in areas including English language learning, digital literacy, high school completion, and professional certifications in areas like culinary skills and data analytics. This will be available to approximately 45,000 employees in Hilton-owned and managed properties in the US, as well as reservations and customer care centers. Hilton had already been offering other types of online professional learning courses, as well as a benefits package that includes mental health well-being offerings, as well as discounts and sabbatical.

“At Hilton, more than 40% of US team members have been part of the Hilton family for 10 years or longer. We are thrilled to be partnering with Guild Education to expand our efforts to support our team members in building lifelong, fulfilling careers here at Hilton,” says Gretchen Stroud, Hilton’s senior vice president of talent and inclusion.

All signs point to the hotel industry being aggressive about employee experience and engagement in the coming year, using technologies to keep a pulse on how their employees are doing and leveraging solutions to support their ongoing training and education, allowing workers to envision a longer-term career with the company.

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