The world of hospitality has changed dramatically in recent years with the rise of digital technologies.
On the one hand, smartphones, tablets and social media platforms have forever changed how businesses interact with consumers and vice versa, while on the other hand, technological innovations that support automation and contactless operations seem to be here to stay, solidifying the theory that the future of hospitality is contactless. And all this is without taking into account the advent of the COVID pandemic that forced hotels to adapt very quickly in order to cover new guest expectations, keep staff safe, and improve their operations…
So, suffice to say that change in the hospitality industry is a constant. This means that hotels need to ensure they have an effective strategy for managing change, be it new rules and regulations such as those brought on by COVID, the implementation of new hotel tech software or new partnerships such as with Welcome. In order to do so, however, hotels must first understand what is happening within their own organisation – which can often mean understanding why people aren’t embracing change.
Why don’t employees like change?
Change management guru Dr. Dave Ulrich says there are three main reasons why some individuals find change difficult:
- They fear losing control over things they already know how to do
- They feel threatened when faced with unfamiliar tasks
- They perceive themselves as being incompetent at dealing with change
These factors may not apply equally across every employee but each one needs to be considered individually before any changes are implemented.
How to empower your staff to be agents of change
1. Engage all teams in decision making
The first step towards any successful implementation is engaging your team in the process. You should make sure everyone understands the reasons behind the change and its impact on the business. It’s important to involve all stakeholders including front desk agents, housekeeping, restaurant managers, kitchen staff, maintenance workers etc.
You may find it helpful to use a tool called change management matrix which helps identify who needs to be involved in decisions about each type of change. From then on, your business can utilize technology tailored for communication of hospitality businesses, such as ALICE, hotelkit, and Connect Staff, to automate and increase the efficiency of your internal communication processes.
2. Be transparent & open
It’s important to share why you’re making changes with your staff, while also doing your best to anticipate any possible concerns they might have. By creating a safe space for them to feel comfortable voicing their thoughts, management can address them in an empathetic way, showing them that they are appreciated and that their needs matter.
For example, you could explain that automation software will make their jobs easier by removing a lot of the grunt-work. In this way, you reassure your staff that you appreciate what they do and that the changes taking place are to aid and complement their work, not replace it.
Don’t be afraid of asking questions in this safe space you have built – it’s important to understand how your team feels about any changes, and remember that the first step is to engage all teams in decision-making. Your staff has a unique understanding of how the hotel works and might have some valuable insight to help streamline operations even further.
3. Train your staff
Organise and provide training to everyone in a structured and timely manner and provide clear communication channels between management and staff. This goes back to transparency again as you need to ensure that every member of your team knows what is expected of them, has been given the necessary tools to succeed, and knows where to go for further support or information.
Based on recent industry findings, one of the most effective ways to train hospitality employees, especially in the COVID era, is online training for the following reasons:
- Video is more engaging than text
- In comparison to other channels, employees are 5 times more likely to retain the training information
- Whereas for employers, it can be up to 50% more effective with regard to overall costs
4. Keep everyone informed
Make sure there is no confusion among employees regarding when something will happen. For example, if you plan to implement a new system, let people know well beforehand so they can prepare themselves accordingly. If you decide to introduce a new policy, tell your teams once you’ve decided so that they can have time to make any necessary adjustments to the way they work.
5. Retention & Culture
A crucial aspect of managing human capital in the hospitality industry is retention, which has been found to be one of the areas in the industry that has the most space to grow. In order to address this, hospitality execs and HR professionals need to make sure that processes focused on people’s development and retention are not forgotten in this time of upheaval. Utilising hospitality-friendly HR platforms such as APS, Keka, or Sage HR, can help automate the employee lifecycle of your business.
Being “culture conscious” has also been found to be one of the strongest ways to cut down on labor costs when it extends from hiring, right down to daily operations. It’s important to note that culture goes far beyond simple job perks, as it entails examining your business and investing in the development of a strong and sustainable culture among your employees.
Implementing these steps will improve employee engagement and satisfaction and will keep operations consistent while helping to make change as seamless as possible. It also creates a more positive work environment for your employees, and opens the channels of communication between staff and management which can be mutually beneficial.
Hospitality is an industry of change, but remember that it’s human nature to find change uncomfortable. With that in mind, do your best to empower your staff by providing them with the training and support they need and engaging with them meaningfully in an open and transparent way, so that they can become the agents of the very change you wish to make!