By Ben Travis

The hospitality industry is one of the most important in today's interconnected world – it creates local jobs, opens areas to new business and tourism, and makes up around 10% of global GDP. However, it can also be a high-stress industry, with irregular schedules, long hours, and a lack of appreciation. Here are some sobering statistics:

  • Employee turnover for hotel and other hospitality organizations is almost double that of other private sector jobs.
  • There's a strong correlation between hotel employee engagement and likelihood of guests recommending a hotel to others.
  • Only 55% of Millennial hospitality workers indicated that they were satisfied and would stay in the hospitality industry within the next five years.
  • 42% of hospitality workers identified a lack of recognition and advancement opportunities as their biggest barrier to getting ahead.

The Antidote: Employee Recognition

Fortunately, there's a proven method to improve turnover, engagement, morale, and purpose: employee recognition. Employee recognition is the acknowledgment and appreciation for an individual's contribution to a group, and it's an integral part of a positive hospitality company culture. It has the power to impact nearly every part of a business.

Does your team feel recognized?

Companies identified as having a "recognition-rich culture" experience 31% lower turnover rates than their peers, and recognition increases employee engagement up to 60%. Saying thank you to your hotel staff improves morale and shows why their contributions matter.

Delivering Employee Recognition the Right Way

While some companies have their own recognition programs, not all get it right. How can you follow best practices to recognize employees? Keep it specific, timely, frequent, visible, omnidirectional, and values-based.

Specific recognition helps individuals understand which of their particular actions contributed to their group's goal. Timely recognition happens in the moment, encouraging repeat success. Frequent recognition doesn't wait for a huge milestone or achievement to give recognition and celebrates small victories every week. Visible recognition amplifies the impact of successes with a wide audience. Omnidirectional recognition allows everyone to appreciate everyone else, removing the bottlenecks imposed by top-down recognition. Values-based recognition promotes core team values and reinforces positive activity.

Ways to Appreciate Your Hotel Staff

Are you ready to start recognizing your staff in tangible ways? Here are a few reward ideas to inspire your team:

  • Provide coffee or tea for the week. Almost everyone enjoys a cup of coffee or tea! Providing some fresh morning (or afternoon) caffeinated beverages can be a great way to appreciate others and increase energy levels. You can even throw in a few custom coffee mugs to spice things up!
  • Present gift cards to local restaurants. Support local establishments by buying their gift cards and presenting them to your team. Don't forget to recommend the best ones to your guests, as well!
  • Write a thank you card. Handwritten cards have special, memorable qualities. Unlike digital messages, they can express a unique sentiment that's rare to see nowadays. Many people keep thank you cards for years, and having notes from different coworkers can be especially impactful.
  • Host professional development classes. Continuing education is an important goal for many hotel workers. Finding the right training programs can be a great way to retain your employees while also adding new skills/knowledge to your hotel.
  • Give a half day off. More than 70% of hospitality workers report feeling overworked. Sometimes a few extra hours can feel like a whole day off, especially when the weather's nice. Think about offering the option to take time off as a reward.
  • Throw a team Happy Hour. After-work Happy Hours can be a great way to encourage positive team interactions in a relaxed atmosphere. These events can reduce stress, contribute to a positive culture, and help your team learn more about each other. Remember to be sensitive to any folks who don't drink.
  • Hire a masseuse. Many hotel workers have an emotionally and physically demanding job. Whether it's dealing with difficult guests, cleaning rooms, or managing events, this kind of work is taxing. Think about hiring a professional to administer massages to your team every now and then.
  • Award concert tickets. Music makes the people come together. Seeing a favorite band can be exciting, and it provides benefits like stress reduction, pain relief, and exercise. Concerts can be a great reward for hotel workers, whether they're fans of Hotel California or Holidae In.
  • Use an employee recognition platform. Employee recognition and reward platforms allow teams to address recognition in a simple, accessible way. Bonusly is one example – they empower teams to celebrate success together, strive toward shared goals, and reinforce company values through apps available for mobile devices, tablets, and computers. Employees have the option of redeeming bonus points for gift cards, donations, or custom rewards.

Need more inspiration? Here's a list of 55 creative employee reward ideas.

A Little Appreciation Goes A Long Way

Anxiety, turnover, and burnout are all very real problems in the hospitality industry. Even though recognition won't fix all problems for hotels, it's a step in the right direction. If you're worried about your team's satisfaction and engagement, we invite you to take a closer look at how recognition can help. We could all use a little more recognition in our lives.