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Much can be said about how travel behaviour has changed since March 2020 and what is forecast for the next few years. But regardless what the guest trends may be, ultimately hospitality comes down to the onsite and corporate teams in place to deliver on the service promise. This is why 2023 must be a year to double down on efforts to keep those teams in place through a sharper focus on employee wellness and mental-health programs designed to boost morale and prevent turnover.

The bottom line is that if you can’t clean rooms, then you can’t make them available for re-sale. This principle also applies for keeping the bar open or staffing the front desk appropriately. Without teams, topline revenues are throttled, with strongly negative knock-on effects to satisfaction scores and loyalty. Next, consider how a senior-level vacancy may impact the pace of decision making and brand innovation. Business growth always comes back to having a solid team.

If that isn’t a strong enough ‘why,’ then consider the changing demographic landscape of Canada and most other advanced economies. The bitter pill is that the labour crises hotels have confronted throughout the pandemic and recovery period aren’t going away. Our population is getting older and the younger generations gravitate towards other industries ahead of hospitality.

Obviously, we’re brushing over a mountain of statistics and terminology related to the sunsetting of the baby boomers as a dominant part of the workforce. On the ground, though, this means that properties cannot rely on any form of consistent labour supply moving forward. The total replacement costs may thus be far higher than simply keeping pace with the market when it comes to inflationary wages.

Employee-wellness programming is the best way to improve team retention by offering a meaningful non-wage incentive. Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is the ambiguity of the term ‘wellness’ which, by virtue of being all-encompassing, induces a sense of shopper’s paralysis insofar as where to start.

Here are three strategies to consider for employee wellness in 2023, with the execution of each dependent on the individual brand or hotel’s unique situation. The commonality throughout is that doing more for your people will halo positively back onto service delivery and your ability to grow revenues.

Teambuilding happens through group activities. Employers, you also have to now consider repetitive-strain injuries and how these chronic physical stressors can lead to lower morale or even short-term paid leave. Weekly stretching, yoga or any other form of exercise classes for housekeepers check this box, but also think of your managers.

Automation lets employees be more guest-facing. Very few choose a career in hospitality because they want to look at computer monitors all day. In fact, too much tech can become a job stressor, so the key is to integrate and automate as much as possible in order to minimize the interruptive busywork that all these systems may create. While many of you may not see the direct connection to wellness, a wise hotelier put it this way: increase the ‘no touch’ of tech to enable the ‘high touch’ of real hospitality.

Succession planning, mentorship and continuing professional development. Whether young or mature, every employee wants to know there are opportunities to move up the ladder, both for the sense of worth that comes from more responsibility as well as for the prospects of a bigger salary. Develop internal training and one-on-one mentor-mentee programs to guide career development, then make it abundantly evident that if an employee works hard they will be duly rewarded.

Hotel brands around the world are already heavily engaged on the employee-wellness front. Throw in the demographic supply-shock problem and your employees have options; they will jump ship to a competitor offering better pay, superior health benefits or a combination thereof. Thus, if you aren’t taking wellness seriously, you may find your operations hamstrung by turnover, quiet quitting, the Great Resignation or any other buzz term being used these days to describe this macro trend.

By Larry and Adam Mogelonsky are partners of Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited. You can reach Larry at larry@hotelmogel.com or Adam at adam@hotelmogel.com

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