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4 Innovative Ways to Better Train and Engage Hospitality Staff

By Keith Bateman on September 28, 2017
Tags: Data Collection

In the hospitality industry, things don’t stay the same for long. Restaurant menus change, hotel room rates fluctuate, and perhaps most noticeably — at least for an establishment’s owners and managers — employees come and go.

The industry is well known for a high turnover rate. In 2016, it reached 72.9 percent overall, although some restaurants (quick service and fast casual, in particular) experience a turnover rate closer to 150-400 percent.

That revolving door of employment spells real challenges for restaurants and hotels. The higher the turnover, the more people to train — and subpar training can put your establishment’s reputation on the line. If a new hire provides bad service, doesn’t cook food to standards, or fails to clean every surface in a hotel room, there’s a high probability it will end up in a negative online review. And even one bad review can harm your business.

To keep your establishment’s reputation sparkling clean, try these innovative methods for training your staff members and keeping them engaged.

1. Use mobile devices to your advantage

The hospitality industry tends to attract young workers. The average hospitality employee is 34 years old — the youngest average age of any reported industry in a recent study. But depending on the establishment, staff can trend even younger. In quick service and fast casual restaurants, the median age is 21.

With such a young group of workers, it can benefit hotel and restaurant management to meet their employees where they’re at — which, typically, is behind the screen of a mobile device. The average millennial spends more than three hours on a mobile device every day (25 percent spend more than five hours and check their phone more than 100 times a day — on average, every 15 minutes over a 24-hour period). And that’s clearly not limited to time off the clock. Most U.S. workers (66 percent) admit to using their smartphones several times a day while at work.

Considering that heavy smartphone use, young employees may find it easier and more natural if they can perform parts of their jobs using their mobile devices. Employees can complete mobile checklists, for example, to make sure they’re following correct cleaning and safety procedures every time. Performing parts of their job on a device they’re already familiar with (and likely already have in their hands) can help them get up to speed faster — and keep them engaged.  

2. Bring your training into the 21st Century

On average, companies spend more than 50 hours and $800 training each employee. In a high-turnover industry, those costs add up quickly. The faster you can get an employee up to speed — and with fewer resources — the better.

Restaurants and hotels can speed up the training process by using mobile checklist, guideline, and inspection apps. Rather than having to remember extensive cleaning procedures or safety measures, new hires can simply access the checklist anytime, on their own mobile device. In the end, companies can speed up the onboarding process, which can help make sure customers don’t notice a lag in service or cleanliness.

3. Use data to address training issues — as soon as they happen 

Providing feedback to your staff is essential to improving their performance and keeping them engaged. Millennials in particular need and prefer feedback on a daily or weekly basis, rather than at an annual review. And they’re not only talking about positive reinforcement. In a recent survey, 92 percent of respondents agreed that negative feedback, when delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.

But in a busy industry like hospitality, it’s not easy to constantly monitor all your employees for feedback opportunities. By the time a guest or patron complains about poor service or a dirty room, the responsible employee may be gone for the day — and may not work another shift until the next week. Will you remember to provide that feedback the next time he or she clocks in?

If your staff uses mobile inspection, guideline, and checklist apps to document cleaning or safety procedures, it’s easier to keep tabs on who’s up to speed on your establishment’s procedures, who could use a refresher, and who is (or is not) following process daily. With mobile apps, all this information is available to you at your fingertips, eliminating the need to personally check on employees to ensure they are following proper procedures. You can even require employees to snap photos of their workstation or cleaning handiwork, which can help you spot issues and provide feedback immediately. That gives you the opportunity to objectively and quickly correct problems, which can help keep guest satisfaction and employee engagement high.  

4. Reward good behavior

Of course, not all feedback should be negative — and employees benefit just as much from recognition for a job well done. Seventy-two percent of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. But the most effective way to provide that praise isn’t necessarily an employee of the month award, or a shout-out at the next all-company meeting. Most millennial employees — 80 percent — prefer on-the-spot (and frequent!) recognition.

But again — are you going to wait until a rave review for your establishment pops up on TripAdvisor to recognize your staff?

To provide timely praise to your employees, it’s important that you know that they’re doing a good job as they perform their daily responsibilities. When employees use mobile inspection apps, the data is immediately accessible in the cloud ­— which means you can see who’s doing a good job and acknowledge their hard work before their shift is over.  

Training and engaging your employees can help you combat high turnover and associated training costs. But beyond that, it can help you provide the consistent, quality service that your customers expect — no matter how long your staff has been employed.

Want to learn more about how mobile inspection apps can help you keep your rooms and tables full? Check out our new interactive eBook, “Fresh and Clean: How Mobile Inspections Save Hospitality Industry Reputations.”

In the hospitality industry, things don’t stay the same for long. Restaurant menus change, hotel room rates fluctuate, and perhaps most noticeably — at least for an establishment’s owners and managers — employees come and go.

The industry is well known for a high turnover rate. In 2016, it reached 72.9 percent overall, although some restaurants (quick service and fast casual, in particular) experience a turnover rate closer to 150-400 percent.

That revolving door of employment spells real challenges for restaurants and hotels. The higher the turnover, the more people to train — and subpar training can put your establishment’s reputation on the line. If a new hire provides bad service, doesn’t cook food to standards, or fails to clean every surface in a hotel room, there’s a high probability it will end up in a negative online review. And even one bad review can harm your business.

To keep your establishment’s reputation sparkling clean, try these innovative methods for training your staff members and keeping them engaged.

1. Use mobile devices to your advantage

The hospitality industry tends to attract young workers. The average hospitality employee is 34 years old — the youngest average age of any reported industry in a recent study. But depending on the establishment, staff can trend even younger. In quick service and fast casual restaurants, the median age is 21.

With such a young group of workers, it can benefit hotel and restaurant management to meet their employees where they’re at — which, typically, is behind the screen of a mobile device. The average millennial spends more than three hours on a mobile device every day (25 percent spend more than five hours and check their phone more than 100 times a day — on average, every 15 minutes over a 24-hour period). And that’s clearly not limited to time off the clock. Most U.S. workers (66 percent) admit to using their smartphones several times a day while at work.

Considering that heavy smartphone use, young employees may find it easier and more natural if they can perform parts of their jobs using their mobile devices. Employees can complete mobile checklists, for example, to make sure they’re following correct cleaning and safety procedures every time. Performing parts of their job on a device they’re already familiar with (and likely already have in their hands) can help them get up to speed faster — and keep them engaged.  

2. Bring your training into the 21st Century

On average, companies spend more than 50 hours and $800 training each employee. In a high-turnover industry, those costs add up quickly. The faster you can get an employee up to speed — and with fewer resources — the better.

Restaurants and hotels can speed up the training process by using mobile checklist, guideline, and inspection apps. Rather than having to remember extensive cleaning procedures or safety measures, new hires can simply access the checklist anytime, on their own mobile device. In the end, companies can speed up the onboarding process, which can help make sure customers don’t notice a lag in service or cleanliness.

3. Use data to address training issues — as soon as they happen 

Providing feedback to your staff is essential to improving their performance and keeping them engaged. Millennials in particular need and prefer feedback on a daily or weekly basis, rather than at an annual review. And they’re not only talking about positive reinforcement. In a recent survey, 92 percent of respondents agreed that negative feedback, when delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.

But in a busy industry like hospitality, it’s not easy to constantly monitor all your employees for feedback opportunities. By the time a guest or patron complains about poor service or a dirty room, the responsible employee may be gone for the day — and may not work another shift until the next week. Will you remember to provide that feedback the next time he or she clocks in?

If your staff uses mobile inspection, guideline, and checklist apps to document cleaning or safety procedures, it’s easier to keep tabs on who’s up to speed on your establishment’s procedures, who could use a refresher, and who is (or is not) following process daily. With mobile apps, all this information is available to you at your fingertips, eliminating the need to personally check on employees to ensure they are following proper procedures. You can even require employees to snap photos of their workstation or cleaning handiwork, which can help you spot issues and provide feedback immediately. That gives you the opportunity to objectively and quickly correct problems, which can help keep guest satisfaction and employee engagement high.  

4. Reward good behavior

Of course, not all feedback should be negative — and employees benefit just as much from recognition for a job well done. Seventy-two percent of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were better recognized. But the most effective way to provide that praise isn’t necessarily an employee of the month award, or a shout-out at the next all-company meeting. Most millennial employees — 80 percent — prefer on-the-spot (and frequent!) recognition.

But again — are you going to wait until a rave review for your establishment pops up on TripAdvisor to recognize your staff?

To provide timely praise to your employees, it’s important that you know that they’re doing a good job as they perform their daily responsibilities. When employees use mobile inspection apps, the data is immediately accessible in the cloud ­— which means you can see who’s doing a good job and acknowledge their hard work before their shift is over.  

Training and engaging your employees can help you combat high turnover and associated training costs. But beyond that, it can help you provide the consistent, quality service that your customers expect — no matter how long your staff has been employed.

Want to learn more about how mobile inspection apps can help you keep your rooms and tables full? Check out our new interactive eBook, “Fresh and Clean: How Mobile Inspections Save Hospitality Industry Reputations.”

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