If you’re a manager of a hospitality business, you won’t be surprised to hear this: turnover is high. In fact, research by YouGov and software company Deputy found that three out of ten workers in hospitality leave their role within 12 months – which is twice the UK average. But did you know that one of the reasons many employees leave so soon is due to poor motivation? And keeping them motivated – particularly when times are tough – might just be the solution to reducing your staff turnover and helping your business succeed.

The political situation – and why employee motivation matters so much more

The hospitality industry is facing a unique challenge: Brexit. EU nationals account for between 12% and 24% of the UK’s hospitality workforce – and 75% of waiters and waitresses in London. After the UK leaves the EU, new salary restrictions for EU and non-EU immigrants could make it much more difficult to fill vacancies. Although there’s still a great deal of uncertainty regarding the potential impact of Brexit on the sector, hospitality managers must prepare themselves for all contingencies.

High motivation can help your business perform better

Higher employee motivation leads to better wellbeing, higher levels of productivity, and a better standard of service for clients – all of which leads to better organisational performance. That’s according to research by the Bucharest University of Economic Studies (Dobre, 2013). All that sounds great, but how do you motivate your employees to stay at your organisation and perform to their potential?

First, be as flexible as you can

It can be difficult to give employees more flexibility when there are in customer-facing roles. Many people would prefer not to be working on a Saturday evening, for example, so they can spend time with friends or family. The same research by Deputy and YouGov found that 69% of hospitality workers in the survey said unsociable working hours was one of the top reasons for leaving the sector. However, a Saturday evening is one of the busiest times for hospitality businesses – like restaurants and hotels.

Give your employees more control over their schedule.

For example, Walmart recently introduced a new Scheduling System – the My Walmart Schedule – to allow associates to swap shifts or pick up unfilled shifts without having to go through their manager. The tool also enables associates to build schedules that work for them, so they don’t have to miss out on important events like a child’s sports game or birthday party. Students may also find it easier to allocate time off for study breaks and exam sittings.

Working around your employees’ needs

If an employee has an important exam coming up, maybe you could reserve them a table in a quiet area or give up your office for their lunch break. Or make sure they don’t have to work a shift which would require them to pay for emergency childcare.

Give your employees the opportunity to try new things

As a hospitality manager, you’ll know there will be times when you have a staff shortage and won’t have time to manage everyone in your team. So why not give one of your more-experienced employees the chance to take on new responsibilities – such as training a new employee? This will show that:

  • You trust them
  • You have confidence in their ability
  • You want to involve them more in the organisation

When an employee needs to improve, be constructive

This leads to another important point: how to react if your employee doesn’t perform to the standard you expect.

Take time to listen

Find out if there were any extenuating circumstances that may have prevented the employee from performing better. Do they feel overloaded? Do they feel they are getting enough support? Offer constructive feedback on how the employee can improve – and give them the opportunity to raise any concerns or questions. For example, it’s possible that they did not receive enough training when they started the job, or perhaps they weren’t aware of what was expected of them at work.

(A U.S. Gallup survey found that only about 50% of employees strongly agree that they know what their employer expects of them at work)

And reward your employees when they perform well 

When your employees do a good job, give them recognition for it in the form of a reward.  For example, you could arrange a team happy hour to give everyone the chance to get to know one another (they won’t have much time to socialise when they’re busy at work!). Give your employees vouchers for local cinemas and concerts, free gym passes, a free taxi home late at night, or discounts on other local services.

Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to’. Richard Branson.




James Hetherington

James Hetherington


James is a copywriter and content marketer with significant experience in B2B content marketing in the financial and business services sectors.

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