The effect of employee treatment on the guest experience

Employee experience may be more linked to customer and guest experiences than most business executives would ever imagine. One statistic shows that companies with great customer experience ratings have more engaged employees at a rate of 1.5 times than their less-successful competitors. 


by Adrian Johansen

Facing data like this, every hotel manager and hospitality industry leader should consider how the treatment of their own employees comes back to affects their client and guest experiences. When employees are happy, paid well, and supported efficiently with good benefits and resources, they tend to do better work. 

In this guide, we explore the many effects that employee experience has on the customer experience in the hospitality industry. From giving workers a sense of purpose through sustainable change to making your workplace the most inclusive it can be, employee perks come with efficiency boosts. Here’s how. 

Making a difference

First and foremost, workers tend to care more about their work when the difference they are making is meaningful and aligns with their personal values. This is a demonstrable phenomenon proven again and again in the workplace and academia. 

For instance, one study found that students asked to improve another student’s cover letter put in 25% more work if they met the student and understood that they needed the job. The simple feeling that they were making a difference increased productivity. 

When employees see and understand the difference they’re making — regardless of the work — the rate of employee productivity goes up. For instance, even front-desk hospitality clerks can provide a service to individuals and families necessary for their vacations and business trips to function. When employees see this positive difference, they care more about the customers and their own labor and will put in more care. As a result, employees take more pride in tasks as well, leading to increased satisfaction.

Improving engagement

Satisfied employees are more engaged with their work and the guests and clients they interact with. The results are more memorable experiences where the guest is sure to walk away satisfied. Since 59% of people who love a company will go with competitors after just a few bad experiences, cultivating a high level of employee engagement is a must.

When surveyed, 72% of business executives agreed that highly engaged workers have happy customers. The data supports that engaged workers are better at their jobs, more satisfied by them, and more willing to stick with them.

Fortunately, treating employees with respect and dignity is one way to get to this level. This starts with showing appreciation for workers and all that they do. Respected employees are quicker to recognize where they’re making a difference, boosting engagement and customer success in a snowballing effect.

Elevating guest experience

From here, well-treated, engaged employees have the ambition to build a customer-centric culture that is felt in every business decision. But maintaining such a culture all depends on a hospitality business’s ability to meet its employees’ needs.

Think of customer experience like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. This idea, many times expanded, posits that humans have to attain basic needs (e.g. food and water) before being able to achieve peak self-actualization. In business, a great customer experience is that peak and to get there employees have to first be satisfied.

If customer service agents don’t have the tools or bandwidth to address their clients’ needs, then you can’t expect them to elevate their experiences. A distracted agent will only make it through the basic hospitality functions without going more in-depth on how they can serve customers. Elevating customers has to start with elevating employees. 

To achieve this, engage your team in open discussions about their experiences and challenges. Only an inclusive environment and honest feedback can guarantee greater employee support. 

Supporting health and well-being

With an empathetic company culture that listens to and supports its workers, the health and well-being of employees go up. In turn, their energy and passion for the job gain a boost, as well as their overall satisfaction. 

We typically don’t talk enough about the impacts of physical and mental health challenges. Conditions from ADHD to diabetes require adjustments in the workflow that can even influence career prospects. Employees struggling with accessing or affording treatments they need will definitely (and rightly) not be committed to improving your client experience.

Instead, hotels and hospitality organizations that cultivate the health and well-being of their workers and clientele alike produce better experiences for everyone. This means supporting workers with decent health plans, safety training, access to your onsite gym facilities as well as mental health resources, and more. 

Competitive wages and attractive perks always help. Use these tools to enhance brand loyalty.

Increasing loyalty

With the costs of hiring and payroll being what they are, it is in a hospitality business’s best interest to cultivate a team that sticks around and cares about the work and their guests. In fact, one of the best methods for reducing payroll expenses is to ramp up employee retention strategies like offering attractive benefits and alternative work options for administrative and offsite teams. 

Your retention strategies should align with the direct needs and desires of your workers for ideal outcomes. Again, an open and empathetic work culture goes a long way in this regard. 

From here, customers can expect the same familiar touchpoints whose service they value. For example, through technology can greatly assist customers in the hospitality industry, the sliver generation still values personalization and direct engagement as well. Employee retention helps personalize and humanize a business for clients and customers. That’s because the relationships you establish in business are all about people, and many loyal customers continue to return over the years because they enjoy interacting with staff members that they have built a rapport with. 

Establishing a desirable brand identity

How a company treats its employees will resonate up to the overarching brand identity. Just like how a positive culture can snowball into positive customer experiences, a negative culture will have corresponding outcomes that grow more quickly than you can control.

For example, in the wake of the Wells Fargo scandal involving the creation of millions of fraudulent accounts, reports came out that stated the company had also been harassing and threatening workers to meet aggressive quotas. The bank continues to find itself in a top spot for the highest share of negative customer responses. 

This goes to show how employee treatment can impact a business at large, including at the customer level. Instead of alienating workers and customers, build a desirable brand identity that cultivates growth through meeting real needs and being a great place to work. The right approach will have you winning customers left and right.

Winning employees and customers

Often, the role of employee treatment in the client experience is understated. For employees to care about their work, they have to feel appreciated, supported, and fulfilled doing it. How a hospitality company treats an employee can impact every one of these items. 

Satisfied employees are a step on the ladder toward more satisfied clients and guests. It’s difficult to maintain one without the other since respectful treatment of employees is necessary for the kind of passion needed to go above and beyond with your clientele. Healthy, happy employees simply make for a better customer experience. 

However, to build an effective end-to-end customer experience that encompasses employee satisfaction, you’ll need the help of these tips and tricks. From increasing engagement to supporting workers’ health, strategies that help your workforce be the best they can be will undoubtedly trickle down to guest satisfaction. Start winning more customers by first winning your employees. 

Adrian Johansen is a writer and businesswoman in the Pacific Northwest. She loves discussing what businesses can do to thrive, especially during hard times. You can find more of her writing on Contently. {alertInfo}

Photo by Drazen Zigic

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