Calif.'s Feather Falls casino, lodge improves employee communication

To improve on the company’s crisis communication plan, Feather Falls Casino management set out to find much-needed technology that engaged employees and allowed them to communicate during an emergency. Photo credit: Beekeeper

When Oroville Dam’s main and emergency spillways were damaged in February 2017, it prompted the evacuation of more than 180,000 people living downstream along the Feather River in Oroville, Calif. Among the evacuees were some of the 520 employees of the Feather Falls Casino, Lodge & Brewing Company. During this crisis, property managers, including human resources director Rhonda Turner, had no way of communicating with staff – the majority of whom do not have a work email address. It was critical for management to determine if employees needed assistance, to explain the property’s attendance and absence policies, and to see who could work prescheduled shifts and who could not due to relocation.
 
To improve on the company’s crisis communication plan, Turner set out to find much-needed technology that engaged employees and allowed them to communicate during an emergency. In June, Feather Falls implemented Beekeeper, the technology for engaging hospitality workers who don’t sit behind a desk and don’t have access to work email.
 
“There’s nothing like a natural disaster to expose communication flaws,” Turner said in a statement. “When this incident happened, we realized that we had no way of notifying our employees about what was happening. We couldn’t reach out to see if anyone needed help, if they had pets needing rescuing, or if they just needed a place to stay. All outlets, including the casino, lodge and brewing company, remained opened. Most of our employees don’t sit in front of a computer; they’re busy serving guests. While we have bulletin boards on the premises, we needed a more consistent and efficient way to reach the bulk of our employees in real time. It was an ineffective way to operate, and it left our employees feeling disconnected, especially those working the swing and graveyard shifts. We needed a fairer way to engage everyone, regardless of what shift they work.”
 
“Several months passed, but my passion for Beekeeper never waned,” Turner said. “I needed a miracle to get the solution . . . and I actually got one. Upon returning from an industry convention, our director of hospitality Mark Grover and the front-office manager Scott Nash couldn’t wait to tell me about an amazing solution they discovered that could solve all our communication problems; they were talking about Beekeeper. Unaware that I had already demoed the system, we now had three associates advocating for Beekeeper. We presented general manager Ed Gilbert with the following reasons why Feather Falls Casino, Lodge & Brewing Company needed Beekeeper.”

Since going live, 89 percent of users are active on Beekeeper daily, Turner said. Feather Falls Casino created a group stream called “Casino Connect” that encourages two-way communication for anything that employees and managers want to post. Individual streams were also activated, enabling departments to post schedules, accolades for jobs well done, news about the hotel or department and more. Employees with flip phones or who have no way of downloading the app can view communication streams on TV monitors in break rooms.

“The feedback from employees has been amazing,” Turner said. “We use Beekeeper to keep everyone informed about everything, whether we're posting pictures of new slot machines and posting discussions about new casino games that we are rolling out that week or detailing employee ticket giveaways and announcing employee events, awards or birthdays. We’ve even started a new video challenge called 'Meet the Hive in Five' where one department makes a video featuring an employee who answers five questions about himself or herself. Then that department challenges another department to do the same. It's a fun, social way to get to know employees better. This is just one of many ways that Beekeeper is making everyone feel part of the Feather Falls family.”

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