The engaged manager: How technology is key

Second only to labor costs outpacing revenue growth, concern about the persistently tight labor market is the top issue that hospitality is focused on for the foreseeable future. Finding and keeping qualified staff is one of the biggest challenges for managers and in some properties, turnover has reached crisis levels.

Labor issues can be significantly reduced through employee engagement. The benefits of an engaged workforce go beyond turnover: employee satisfaction leads directly to profitability. To be more specific, engaged employees are more productive and deliver higher-quality service, which leads to repeat visits by guests; customer loyalty helps to drive the bottom line.

Moreover, engaged employees work more efficiently. Highly engaged teams also are 22 percent more profitable while the top 20 percent of highly engaged teams are 21 percent more productive, with 41 percent lower absenteeism rates and 59 percent less turnover. One point to consider is that while most resources are focused on employee engagement, they fail to address one of the most critical tools for boosting engagement: managers.

Why Employee Engagement Starts with Management

One of the biggest factors in keeping employees satisfied with their jobs and engaged in their work is their relationship with management and perception of their managers’ leadership—employees who like to work with their managers show higher levels of engagement. In fact, a one-point increase in leadership satisfaction results in a 36 percent increase in engagement. 

Clearly, managers are the primary source of team motivation and trust building within an organization, but that depends upon ensuring that your managers are also engaged. Labor issues such as turnover aren’t problems only affecting operational staff, they also affect management. The turnover rate for managers in hospitality in the U.S. is between 35 percent and 47 percent.

So, for hotels to be successful, operators need to make manager engagement a priority that is just as important as employee engagement. When engagement happens at all levels of the business—with managers and staff alike — it provides a positive cascading effect that impacts the entire organization.

Using Technology as Management Tools Help to Support Engagement

Managers’ day-to-day workloads are immense and much of that workload involves issues related to labor management. Forecasting, scheduling and daily timekeeping have become more cumbersome, especially with legislation driving more complex work rules and higher labor costs. These factors put additional pressure on managers to accurately forecast staffing needs and measure labor performance. When forecasting isn’t up to par, it doesn’t only cost a hotel money, it also can put guest satisfaction at risk. Too little staff means guest needs aren’t adequately met and too much means employees aren’t as engaged, which impacts service delivery.

Rather than tasking managers with the time-consuming task of generating more accurate forecasting and schedules, hotels can invest in technology that automates most of these functions, taking stress out of the process and giving managers hours of their time back. Mobile tools that provide real-time scheduling and time-keeping functionality also give managers more freedom to address schedule requests and access things like who is late, who is clocked in or who needs a break without being tied to their desks or making a special trip to the time clock. They also can use mobile tools to measure employee sentiment on a more frequent level than the annual staff survey so they can take action related to their staff’s concerns before they become a problem.

Managers who have this ability to be on the floor interacting with guests and staff while staying on top of what’s going on with labor are happier and more engaged because for most managers, the thing that keeps them in hospitality is a passion for service and people. 

Manager engagement is an ongoing process. The role of the manager is made easier with the right activities that are supported by technology-based tools. And, when managers are engaged, they not only ensure that business runs smoothly, but their enthusiasm spills over onto their team. When employees are engaged, they want to deliver better service to guests. This cycle of engagement supports the intent to recommend and return, ultimately improving your hotel’s bottom line.

Shana Schlabach is an engagement product manager at UniFocus.