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Keeping the Good Ones: How to Hang On to Your Star Employees

For various reasons including a major pandemic, too much incentive money to stay home and the desire to seek other opportunities, it has been difficult to find job candidates. Moreover, once you find them, the next challenge is finding a way to keep them—especially the star employees.

Retaining Star Employees

It is a known fact that employee retention is a critical part of the hospitality industry. It is also a given that many hospitality employees are young and often in school. Many see their position as a stepping-stone to something else. Since the skills needed in the hospitality industry are transferable to other work, their current role will serve as a foundation on their resumes.

Regardless of the age and experience of your current staff, there are some things you can do to get them to stay in their current job. We all want to hang on to our star employees. To do this, we will have to change some of the things we are currently doing. We will have to get creative and even uncomfortable in order to provide incentives for these employees to stay on board.

Here are three things you can begin implementing today to make that happen:

  1. Change the Time

If you are from the old school of thought where the employee clocks in at 7:00 a.m. and out at 3:00 p.m. with a half hour lunch break, you may need to rethink your scheduling. Employees today value flexibility. They want to have the freedom to change their schedule when needed.

Obviously, this puts a damper on your business. You have a customer base to tend to and a responsibility to provide a great service. The solution is that you have to find creative ways to cater to both your star employees and your customers. But how can you do both?

Firstly, communicate with your employees. This is a lost art in most businesses and not just within the hospitality industry. Talk to your staff and find out what their needs are. I can hear you now: “We are not in this to pamper to employees! We have a business to run!” I totally agree with you.

But times they are a-changing. If you want to keep your star employees, find out what is going on in their lives. Do they have children they need to get to school? Do they have night classes they cannot miss? Are they taking care of their parents? These are important to know because you want to use this information to customize your scheduling.

Suppose you have the employee clock in at 9:00 a.m. instead of 7:00 a.m. How much damage would that do to your business? Could you overlap scheduling with other employees? Perhaps an employee that lives near your business could work the first four hours and come back at night to finish their shift.

The point is that you have to throw out the old way of doing business if you want to truly keep a good staff. Seek to learn what schedules will work best for both the employee and the business.

  1. Put Greater Emphasis on Training

Many sectors of the hospitality industry are notorious for throwing a warm body into the fray and hoping that they somehow learn how to do the job. Training workers and teaching them how their role affects other areas of the business is a motivator. Unfortunately, it is too often overlooked.

Training employees does two things: the obvious is that it shows the employee how to perform in their job. The second thing training does is it serves as a motivator. It provides the employee with the sense that the company values them and cares about them enough to show them the ropes. This is similar to the Hawthorne Effect: a noticeable increase in performance of individuals who are noticed, watched, and paid attention to.

A recent Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) article revealed some of the steps employers are taking to attract and retain workers in today’s very competitive talent market. Along with offering bonuses and monetary incentives, of those surveyed, 44% stated they are up-skilling and re-skilling their staff. The importance of training and paying attention to your employees cannot be overemphasized.

Also, consider cross training your star employees. If they are a server and have always been interested in being a cook or a chef, let them shadow your chef. If they want to get into management, send them to classes. Show an interest in their career. Help them to soar to greater heights.

  1. Communicate All the Time

In order to find out about your employee’s lives and what their needs are, you have to communicate with them. But don’t stop there. Keep those communication lines open all the time. Face-to-face works best, but know your audience. Many of your employees are from a generation that prefers texts rather than long conversations. And that’s okay.

Communicate at their level. There is a multitude of apps available for you to use to schedule employees, share information about benefits, and even pay them. Some of these include Workday, TribeHR, and Ascentis.

Utilize these to stay in constant communication with them. According to Trade Press Services, effective internal communications motivate 85% of employees to become more engaged in the workplace. Make the effort to communicate to all team members regularly. Let them know that they are appreciated. Let them know that they are a vital member of the organization.

Bonus Tip: Make It Fun!

I know, I know. Work isn’t supposed to be fun. Nevertheless, remember, we are in a new world where we have to be creative. We have to take extreme measures to keep our star employees. Keeping the workplace fun doesn’t mean the work stops. It just means that your employees enjoy it more. Most of the time this translates to better customer experiences.

In order to create a fun workplace you need to cultivate fun daily. Take mini breaks with your staff to share something fun. This could be simply showing a funny video, building a corner of fun in the breakroom, and finding humor in negative work situations. Consider creating a fun squad. This is a group of employees in charge of setting up activities after work. This could include bowling, pizza parties, water parks, or movie night.

Above all, the point is to make the time to provide relaxing and fun situations that allow everyone to let their hair down. Studies have proven that relaxed employees are engaged employees. Engaged employees is the goal to strive for to help you keep all your good ones.


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