Study finds travel & hospitality employees feel undervalued. Here’s how to turn that around and why you must

Hospitality employees

A new report has found that travel and hospitality employees are the least likely out of all industries to feel valued at work. Can we turn this around? 

COVID-19 has hit travel and hospitality employees hard – possibly harder than those of any other industry. While there are many positives to working in this industry at this time, like working in an area full of passionate advocates and being at the forefront of tech wellness and innovation, there are clearly some issues to be worked out. Employee culture is one of them. 

Now, a new report from Qualtrics has found that travel and hospitality employees are the least likely out of all industries surveyed to feel valued at work. This is bad because it will cost hospitality companies, including hotels and spas, big.

Qualtrics writes, “As closed borders and canceled conferences forced many across the globe to either stay home or scramble to get home, those in the Travel & Hospitality industry faced furloughs and layoffs.”

It’s not just about layoffs and furloughs

One might think that travel and hospitality employees feeling undervalued can be blamed entirely on layoffs and furloughs, but this isn’t the case. Only 42% of travel & hospitality employees who are still working full-time say they feel valued by their company. What gives? Some people have some work to do. Moreover:

  • 29% of travel & hospitality employees who are still working full-time say their employee experience has gotten worse since the pandemic — the highest of any industry, and the only industry where more workers said it got worse rather than better.
  • Travel & hospitality employees rated their company’s response to COVID-19 the lowest, along with automotive employees.
  • 36% of travel & hospitality employees say it’s been harder to feel connected to customers now compared to before the pandemic; 24% say it’s been easier.
  • 42% of travel & hospitality employees say it’s been harder to deal with customers than before the pandemic; 25% say it’s been easier.

This matters for a number of reasons, one of which is the cost of employee disengagement for your company. Research findings suggest that when employees feel undervalued they are significantly less engaged in their jobs, and the fallout costs of this can be huge. Unhappy employees may expect bigger salaries and, anecdotally, may increase costs by arriving late, leaving early, and taking advantage of out of office expenses. Poor employee engagement can also hurt talent recruitment and retention, customer acquisition and retention, productivity, and revenue. A disengaged workforce costs you at literally every level, some say an estimated $16,000 per employee per year.

Strategies for increasing travel & hospitality employee engagement

Qualtrics recommends the following strategies for improving the situation:

Listen to and act on employee feedback. Travel & hospitality was the only industry where employees said their experience is worse since the pandemic. They were also least satisfied before the pandemic with the ways in which their managers listened to and acted on feedback. Qualtrics suggests conducting regular employee pulse checks to help identify experience gaps and determine the best course of action.

Make employee experience a priority. Qualtrics found that people in most industries expect the pandemic to increase focus on employee experience more than anything else, but less than half of workers in travel & hospitality believe the same. They suggest building interactive tools for employees, especially frontline workers, to help them feel like part of the broader organization. 

Communicate the positive changes you make that are designed to improve employee experience with your employees – and hold your organization to them.

Here are eight more strategies for increasing employee engagement at your spa, wellness, or hospitality business:

Encourage ownership. Communicate company goals and involve everyone in achieving them. Be transparent and let your team in on how you’re doing and where you want to get to. People are more committed to the success of an organization when they feel they are an important part of it.

Involve them in decision making. Consult everyone at your company on decisions related to it and encourage their input. Again, if they feel more involved they’ll feel more invested. 

Recognize and reward success. Too many employers only communicate with their teams when something is wrong. Give praise where it’s due – often and effusively – and be a cheerleader along the way.

Get to know your team. Being friendly with employees and asking them about their lives and interests is one sure fire and very simple way of improving your relationship with them. 

Provide them with the tools they need to succeed. Effectively train and onboard new employees. They should never have to wonder what is expected of them and not know who to go to for answers. Make sure they have what they need at all times, be it available schedules, insight into commissions, products on hand, face masks, or clean towels. 

Have tools and strategies for difficult situations. Note that Qualtrics found that customers have become more difficult to deal with recently. Ensure that your employees aren’t dealing with this alone, and that they know you have their backs and are providing tools and guidelines for dealing with situations. 

Support career development and growth. Help your team members grow and reach their career goals. If you’re not in a position to promote internally, support growth anyway. An employee who moves on to move up will be easier to replace if they feel valued because they will be a promoter of your employer brand rather than a detractor from it. 

Don’t overdo it. Interaction between managers and team members is good but be mindful of people’s time as well. If all your team building exercises, trainings, and check-ins are piling on top of endless meetings, this will be resented rather than appreciated. People have lives and families on top of their jobs. Keep that in mind.  

It’s never too late to change the way we do things. We can improve this situation. It just takes time and effort. 


Now read:

Your guide to the ultimate spa employee experience

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