Every week we comb through the news to find employment trends affecting the hospitality industry so you don’t have to. This week’s Hospitality in the News topic: 2023 retention tips for hospitality staff.

Company culture matters (to your staff and your guests) 

Have you ever gone to a party and had the sense that the hosts just had a big fight before everyone arrived? It feels awkward, and it’s not the best night out. Similarly, if employees are dissatisfied, guests may sense that kind of “mood in the room,” which can affect the bottom line. By building a culture that supports employees, you create a positive mood that will keep customers and guests coming back. 

Front-line employees, especially in the hospitality industry, are usually the only segment of a company customers see. When employees are unhappy, guests feel it, and leave with a negative view of the whole operation. Bottom line, “If the employees ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” 

Unhappy guests leave bad Google reviews, which discourages future customers from booking. Too many negative reviews and companies may need to lower rates to attract new guests. And in the end, it negatively impacts the books. 

According to Zippia, in the four years before the pandemic, turnover in hospitality fluctuated between 75% to 79%. The study showed that 33% of new hires quit within 90 days of starting employment. Turnover not only costs companies a lot of money – $57,150 per year on average – but it also takes a toll on the employees left behind. Those employees often must work longer hours to cover for the shortage in staff, and employee morale suffers. Turnover can become contagious. 

Dissatisfied employees share their experiences via word-of-mouth or more widely through platforms such as Glassdoor, which can discourage top candidates from applying for a company’s open positions. The quality of the hiring pool diminishes, and a downward spiral of poor performance and staff shortages can follow. 

Fortunately, there is a lot you can do to keep your employees – and by extension your guests – happy. Create a company culture that meets the priorities of today’s workforce, and you’ll have a motivated team that naturally makes your guests feel happy and comfortable. Here are some 2023 retention tips to remember:

2023 Retention Tips

Remember that it’s not just about the money.  

One of the most important things you need to know about 2023 retention tips is that more money isn’t the end all be all answer. In a 2019 Glassdoor study, 56% of American respondents reported, “Company culture is more important than salary when it comes to being satisfied at work.” Among millennials that belief is even stronger: 65% place culture above salary. 

Understand employees’ priorities and incorporate them into your management model.  

When asked what helps employees thrive, Americans listed “work that fulfills me” and “feeling valued for my contributions” as their top two responses in Mercer’s Global Talent Trends 2022 study. The next two priorities were having “a manager who advocates for me” and feeling “a sense of belonging.” You can address those wishes by creating opportunities to recognize employee efforts and show how they benefit other staff members and the company at large. 

You don’t need to be a family, but you shouldn’t just be an ATM.  

No one wants to go back to the old days of work being a place just to punch a clock and get a check, but experts caution against creating a “family” model in your workplace or hiring materials. Employees who feel they must be “part of the family” may experience undue pressure to socialize with co-workers. They may feel obligated to take on unreasonable work demands, and they may be uncomfortable reporting inappropriate behavior of other “family members.” Newer thinking encourages viewing work as a partnership, “redefining the old work contract as a new work equation — one that reflects a more equitable relationship between employer and individual regardless of employment status.” 

Beat boredom and meet staffing challenges with cross-training.  

Even the best jobs can get tedious, and nearly everyone welcomes the opportunity to learn new skills. Cross-train employees to do different jobs to keep staff fresh and widen your pool of trained workers to cover staffing shortages. Understanding co-workers’ jobs also helps build connections among employees and create stronger bonds of community in your workplace. 

Celebrate and share good reviews.  

Publicize positive reviews using in-house communications as well as on your social media, especially if reviews call out individuals or segments of staff. Public recognition shows employees their work makes a difference and that they are appreciated. 

Give employees a voice by creating opportunities to share their views.  

It’s not enough to say, “My door is always open,” and hope staff come through to share their ideas or concerns. Managers need to reach out to staff to ask about what is working and what isn’t in their job setting. Encourage new ideas and offer prizes and recognition for suggestions that lead to workplace improvements. Also make sure to provide opportunities for anonymous feedback. Employees need to know that if they share negative information their jobs will not be at risk. 

Don’t just listen. Follow up.  

Employees will only feel heard and valued if they see change after they provide feedback. The foundation of communication is that it works when it goes two ways. Show employees you’ve listened to their concerns and taken them seriously. You can’t always make the changes employees ask for, but you can explain why you’re not making those changes now. 

In the hospitality industry, you can’t separate employee satisfaction from the customer experience. Use these 2023 retention tips to build a company culture in which employees feel valued, and you’ll create an environment that will satisfy both your staff and your guests.