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Your Guests Are Only as Satisfied as Your Employees are Engaged

When it comes to business growth, continuity and profitability, companies must have employee engagement to succeed. After all, it’s no coincidence that today’s most successful brands (i.e. Disney, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) consistently rank as the world’s top companies to work for.

It’s not too difficult a concept to understand: engaged employees feel a sense of fulfillment that drives productivity and efficiency. Specifically, research shows that happy employees are about 12 percent more productive than disengaged team members. In fact, productivity increases as high as nearly 40 percent have been reported by global leaders like Google after improving employee engagement initiatives.

The benefits of investing in employee engagement are clear. So, why is the global employee engagement rate at just 13 percent? A 2017 Virgin Pulse study seems to have the answer: although nearly 90 percent of businesses prioritize employee engagement, there’s a lack of consensus around the strategy and tactics needed to support it.

Today, only 29 percent of brands have engagement programs that fit specific employee needs. Overall, most companies are either in the initial stages of employee engagement or have yet to begin an initiative at all.

Employee engagement is the key to realizing your competitive advantages. So, how exactly can hospitality leaders begin improving their engagement strategies? This makes me think of a recent TEDx talk given by Gabriel Stulman. Stulman, touted as “one of New York’s most successful restauranteurs,” discusses the criticality of employee engagement and how innovative leadership techniques can help managers succeed.

Here are two lessons that can be applied from Stulman’s rich presentation:

1. Always start by celebrating the individual

If you’re not sure where to begin your employee engagement initiative, start by simply celebrating who the employee is as an individual. Stulman gives the example of a server at one of his restaurants, who he noticed always brought his camera into work. After a cup of coffee and a long chat, Stulman learned that the employee was passionate about photography.

Stulman kept this in mind six months later when he needed a photographer to take photos of various items in preparation of a new restaurant launch. “I offered him a price that I would pay him to take some pictures and he was fired up,” Stulman said. So fired up, that the employee delivered almost twice as many images as professional photographers hired for the project. The best part of this entire experience, Stulman says, was the “passion and excitement and energy that [the employee] took back to the restaurant he was a waiter at.”

2. Involve instead of isolate

Employee engagement means every individual organization-wide feeling as though they can make meaningful contributions and impact at any level. This may require some creativity on managers’ ends. Stulman, for example, describes the process of writing cocktail menus for one of his restaurants: “We have a director of bar operations [who] is a brilliant individual, fully capable of writing all of the cocktail lists for all of the restaurants all by himself without any help. I tell you what, if we let him do it that way I guarantee it would be way more efficient than the system we use.” Instead, Stulman explains, they implement a system that takes three times as long and takes much more effort to manage. Why handle the process this way? Because it encourages morale, engagement, collaboration and team effort.

About 90 percent of companies say they currently or plan to invest more in their employee engagement strategy. Hopefully, these suggestions from Stulman will help you with yours. Check out this blog for more tips on team engagement.

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