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Three Significant Ways to Support the Heart of the House

Think of the last time you stayed at a hotel. Chances are, the heart of the house—the housekeeping department—was largely responsible for it being either a memorable or lacking experience. These are the employees who clean your sheets and deliver fresh towels to you daily. They’re the people who keep resort spas hygienic and in line with cleanliness standards. They’re the workers who diligently wash the decks of cruise ships every day. They’re ever-present yet undetected by the average guest.

This group of behind-the-scenes workers truly represents the beating heart of any hotel entity, and it’s critical that supervisors support them to ensure their satisfaction and success.

I know firsthand the importance of supporting the heart of the house. Early on, I had the drive to learn what pain points were being experienced in the hotel so I could do my part to help meet and exceed them. This passion led me to work practically every job there is in the hospitality industry, from an entry-level front desk worker to today as a Housekeeping Supervisor. Throughout my 30+ years in the industry, I take pride in having worked as part of the heart of the house in many ways.

As a Housekeeping Supervisor, I also know firsthand how difficult it can be for management to successfully drive momentum and support. Once I climbed the ranks and assumed a position of leadership, my priority was to unite the heart of the house with the single goal of creating memorable guest experiences. Executing this goal, however, can be easier said than done.

As a supervisor, I assure you there are countless ways to support the heart of the house. Here are just three approaches you can take to easily and continually do so:

Be adaptable

Be flexible to your environment and pitch in when necessary. Every employee finds motivation from seeing his or her manager step up to the plate first to do what needs to be done. Make the little things count. Help your team strip the beds, for example, or take out the trash to demonstrate that you not only want these employees to succeed, but you’re willing to work alongside them to help them do so.

For example, I was once informed by a front desk worker that a mother had called several times about a toy her six-year-old daughter lost and had been crying over daily. I remembered thinking to myself how important it would be to get into the weeds with my employees on this mission. It took some time, but we eventually tracked down the little girl’s pink bear. To make the reunion extra special, I went out and got a card and had the entire team sign it wishing the bear a safe trip home. The mother called me with such joy, telling me her daughter Jessica was crying because she was now so happy. It’s important that supervisors get into the weeds like this when necessary; I know I’ll never forget that time I did.

Offer incentive programs

These are effective so long as they are fair and equal to all who participate in them. When it comes to designing your program, don’t be afraid to inject a little fun into it. This allows your employees to explore what they enjoy most, as well as learn what motivates them to excel. For example, you can play games that allow housekeepers to adopt their own unique style of cleaning while still abiding by best practices. Or, you can encourage them to leave handwritten notes for guests (the cleverer, the better). At the end of the day, remember that you can spend ample money on a great incentive program but, if you’re not getting results, you will need to course correct and change direction. No matter how much fun your employees have, your program must still be results-driven.

Support their journey

Finding the right person for each job is critical for success; it’s all about employing the right people at the right time. Think of it this way: you may employ someone to drive a bus but, if that person is only looking in the rearview mirror, he or she will get into an accident. Place every employee where he or she is best fit, even if that means looking to other areas of the business.

When it comes to my team, for example, I work to always build relationships and observe what works best for everyone. Above all, I focus on listening to their wants and needs. Once I assumed a position of leadership, I quickly got the impression that my employees generally didn’t get that opportunity often. As such, I made sure to nurture that.

In the end, remember that time is your best indicator of success. Keep trying different tactics if you haven’t found your best yet. What’s most important is that management shows the heart of the house just how valuable they are to them and the industry at large. Good luck!

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