Trisha Bennett, Director at Hospitality Assured explains how Engagement, the employee’s commitment to the organisation and the willingness to perform beyond expectations, has become a number one priority for management looking to retain a talented and ambitious workforce.

Engagement is more than mere job satisfaction; fully engaged employees are motivated and dedicated to making the organisation a success. Engagement is the organisations DNA; the culture, strategy and uniqueness that makes the company ‘tick’. The challenge is creating the environment to put the theory into practice. The theory focuses around the 5 C’s:

  1. Connect with employees and stakeholders, building rapport and strong relationships. In Jim Collins book ‘Good to Great’ he says that one of the things about great companies is that their people say they love their jobs because of who they work with. The key ingredient is friendship and having a best friend at work. Gallup surveys substantiate this with results demonstrating that you are seven times more likely to be engaged in your job if you have good friendships at work and, people who love their job have a manager who genuinely cares about them as a person. As a manager or leader you need to show you genuinely care.

How? Really get to know your employees. Are you in their world? Be ‘present’ and visible. Management by walk about is the ideal time to show you care by remembering simple things like birthdays, and asking employees how their family is. Fun team building exercises, for example ‘Fish’ training. Regular team meetings that involve all the team. ‘Make their Day’ with a surprise, for example ‘bacon butties’ for absolutely no reason at all. Daily mood identification exercises are fantastic, so support can be provided, as necessary.  Away days and ‘back to the floor’ activities are other ways to build strong team rapport.

  1. Communicate and clarify the vision, mission, values, Customer Service Promise, strategy and key performance objectives. Communicate exactly what is expected of employees, teams and departments in terms of skills knowledge and behaviours. Communicate in an inspirational way that embraces the four main modes including interpersonal, non-verbal, written, and oral. Be positive in all communications and role model what you preach. Listen, empathise and respond to the team will help to ensure common understanding of the bigger picture.

How?  Consider establishing a systematic meeting structure including road shows, town halls, staff/team conferences, team meetings, daily huddles; make them fun, participative and meaningful.  Keep it simple by developing infographic one page business plans and progress reports. Embed the values and culture by constant reminders such as screen savers, morning messages, motivational quotes, on hand held devices and social media, and a focus of the month on values or aspects of the Customer Service Promise. Establish standards of performance manuals that are explicit as well as pictorial. Develop checklists and audits that measure task achievements and communicate the results. Train staff in the standards expected and use role play exercises to problem solve and build confidence. Carry out team appraisals to establish objectives and to identify team training to improve productivity and improved performance.

  1. Contribution and clear line of sight so that employees can describe how their current work is part of the vision and the organization’s core strategies is paramount. Employees need to understand what they are contributing to the success of the business.  When employees feel like they are contributing, they will want to do better and contribute even more. When staff members respect and trust the people they work for and with, they will work more effectively which will impact positively on productively.  Each team member plays an important part and they need to know that their input really matters and makes a difference.

  How?  Establish a systematic process for giving timely and regular feedback through appraisals and one to ones. Focus not only on performance but on personal well-being to identify barriers that impact on performance or where more personal support is required. Job descriptions, personal specifications, and standards of performance can all be linked to the vision, values and culture of the organisation.  Talent management will help to identify team members that are ripe for progression.  Giving employees challenges and the opportunity to develop professionally will encourage further contribution. As Zig Ziglar said ‘You don’t build a business, you build people, and then people build the business’.

  1. Congratulating team members for a job well done, being positive, giving praise and recognition costs nothing and the benefits are endless. Much learning can be gained from Billy Jean King’s quote ‘You never get recognition when you want it, and then when it comes, you get too much’. So, make a positive effort to catch people doing something right and congratulate them on both work and personal successes. People want to know that their efforts are valued and appreciated.

How? Praising employees and teams in front of co-workers is a big confidence boost.  A thank you note or e–mail gives a personal touch. Recognition can be given for long service awards, employee of the month, fruitful suggestions, achieving qualifications, passing exams, excelling at training, compliments from customers, achieving targets, support for a charity or the community, et al!  Just find any excuse whilst ensuring it is justified. Awards create healthy competition especially when they are given to encourage advancement.  Prizes can be motivating especially if they are chosen with the individual or team in mind. Establish a celebration calendar that could include an appreciation day. Finally, although there are many others, spend prime time with your teams.

  1. Control and no micromanagement. Give employees skills and knowledge, empower them and let go. Giving accountability, delegating responsibility and decision making will boost their confidence, provide challenge and is great for growing talented staff. Encourage innovation and improvement.

How?  Foster a coaching culture to accelerate leadership development. Introduce suggestion schemes and track ideas so teams know that all suggestions are considered, evaluated and responded to. Allow teams to plan and control their own team meetings and away days. Encourage team members to carry out audits in the department and across the business. Involve them in competitor analysis as a motivational exercise. Train teams to use improvement tools. Introduce creative problem solving and quality circles. Consider a bottom up business planning process and remember that standing still is not an option.

Engaging employees and teams is vital for long term success of a business. So engage your teams and create proud ambassadors for your organisation. Be an engaging manager, it is contagious – be engaging to engage your team.

To find our more about how Hospitality Assured support organisations to engage their teams and achieve competitive advantage through business and service excellence visit 

About the Author: Trisha Bennett

Trisha, Director of Hospitality Assured, has extensive experience in general management, marketing, research and education, and in 1988 founded a successful business consultancy that focuses on improving the performance of people and businesses. She is enthusiastic about learning and development, and believes in delivering service excellence through coaching, training and development interventions.