One of the most critical facets in any industry is having a dedicated and engaged workforce. This is especially important in hospitality because employees are in the business of serving customers and providing them good experiences. Customer retention rates are 18% higher on average when employees are highly engaged. If consumers have even one negative experience with a brand, they may never return again.

Credit: Performance Loyalty Group, Inc.

To harvest this dedicated and engaged workforce, companies must treat employees with respect, show employees appreciation and give employees the tools necessary to get the work done. Showing employees respect is a given for most companies, yet some still get it wrong. Respect and appreciation are things the hospitality industry should take seriously; ‘A Jackson Organization (now HealthStream Research) study shows that companies that effectively appreciate employee value enjoy a return on equity and assets more than triple that experienced by firms that don’t.’ The “tools” being referred to here are difficult to define in an industry that is ever-evolving its technology. Keeping up with changing technology and making sure the technology works is important; it’s always a bummer when restaurants’ credit card machines are broken or hotel WiFi can’t handle the amount of people on the network. Making employees’ lives easier by providing them basic necessities are pivotal in determining how their workday will go. How their workdays go affects their interest and loyalty in the company.

One such way companies can show appreciation is through monetary ‘bonuses’ in some way. When Marriott received tax cuts this year they decided to give it to their employees. Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson explains, “To put it plainly, at Marriott, we try to take care of our associates, our associates take care of our guests, and our guests keep coming back. Attracting and keeping the best talent is critical for us, so we plan to invest roughly $140 million for 2018 in our most important asset, our people.” Marriott continues to move forward as the largest hotel chain in the world, opening 76,000 new rooms last year.

According to Ogan Dogruyol, Guest Relations Specialist at Hilton Worldwide, harboring an environment for great employees includes having organizational culture and core values, and fostering engagement, observation, regular feedback and consistency. The importance of culture and values exists because these tell the world who your brand is and what the brand stands for. Engraving that into employees gives them context into who they should be and how they should behave around guests. Having a good hold on these concepts will increase employee interest in and connectedness to the brand, and therefore harbor better consumer experiences. Only 1 in 150 employees who say their organization does not have a set of values are fully engaged. Allowing for engagement, observation, regular feedback and consistency is advantageous because your workforce will work better together with these than without. 27% of workers strongly agree that the feedback they currently receive helps them do their work better, and employees who are supervised by highly engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged.

But it’s not entirely what the company can do for the staff. It’s also important to hire staff with the right qualities who will put consumers first and enjoy working with and helping people. In Shangri La’s Robert Kuok’s recently published memoir, he writes “We must set out to do three things, in this order: To look after our hotel staff; to look after our guests; to look after our shareholders. We motivate [the staff] to provide the best service to the guests, our customers…. In the hotel world — in any business world — you must look for three ingredients when you hire staff: talent, integrity and the stamina for hard work.

Harboring employee loyalty can be easily done if your company knows who they are and what they are set out to do. Well-established companies typically have better employee loyalty than new ones because the values and culture are well-defined. The dedication and engagement that come with these things cannot be overlooked. Companies with engaged employees see 233% greater customer loyalty and a 26% greater annual increase in revenue. If your company is struggling finding loyal employees, now is the time to take steps to fix it.