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Retain New Hotel Staff in 5 Easy Steps

Employees are more likely to stick it out and work hard when they feel like they belong. And it all starts with their training.

One of my first jobs out of college was working the front desk at a major hotel chain. My first (and final) shift lasted a total of 3.5 hours.

Why? Because my training experience was terrible and could’ve been much better.

The first moments of a new job can mean the difference between a long and fruitful relationship with an employee or wasted time and resources losing one.

In my case, my new hotel career began inside a broom closet. I was set up on an ancient computer and told to work my way through an antiquated training system. There was no human interaction after that – I was left alone to navigate DOS-style font flashing on a black screen.

A 2022 workplace survey from the Society for Human Resource Management reveals that 55% of employees want “additional training to perform better in their role.” However, not getting enough time to train isn’t the only problem: 33% say lack of motivational training was the biggest issue.

The lonely broom closet was far from motivational, and not at all what I imagined when I applied. Although common sense told me I wouldn’t go through this every day, no one assured me otherwise. In fact, no one assured me of anything. I was impressionable and scared, and I wanted to run out of there. So I did.

Your new hires will have a much better time learning the ropes if you invest in a thoughtful orientation process. Being sensitive to what recruits feel during this pivotal time will probably increase the chances of them staying. Additionally, you won’t have to sacrifice quality service in their early interactions with guests.

Here are five steps you can take to set your employees up for success on day one:

1. Make the job description clear

Start off on the right foot by providing new employees a clear set of written guidelines, then have a conversation about the material. It’s not enough to hand over a packet of rules. Take the time to go through different scenarios, explaining how to handle real-world situations. Use examples of past interactions whenever possible. A new hire is much more likely to handle customer needs tactfully if they have a clear idea of how your company handles specific situations before they happen.

2. Build confidence in new employees

Celebrating small accomplishments will inspire repeat behavior. Now retired after serving as Senior Programming Director at Disney Institute, Bruce Jones confirms the idea that business leaders should actively “search for and recognize employees who demonstrate their organization’s desired behaviors.” Doing this communicates a lot about your company culture. Are you an uplifting employer, or one they should fear?

3. Create a sense of family right off the bat

There’s nothing worse than walking around on your first day not knowing anyone’s name, let alone what they do. The sooner new employees feel a sense of belonging, the more comfortable they’ll be reaching out for guidance and doing things the same way as your seasoned team members. An added bonus is that employees who feel like they fit in are likely to transfer that positive energy to guests.

4. Cultivate a growth mindset amongst your staff

Believing you can learn improves how you learn. This concept can help new employees become better at their job more quickly. A study published by the National Library of Medicine found that those with a growth mindset “embrace challenges and put in effort to learn.” Present new tasks with a can-do attitude. New employees will take on more duties as they grasp new skills, which means a higher return on your investment.

5. Talk long term goals

It’s never too soon to come up with a development plan that promotes skills beyond the current job description. Establishing career goals focuses performance. It also helps employees visualize a future with your company. One of the main reasons people leave their jobs is because there’s “no opportunity for advancement,” as reported by Pew Research Center. Presented with potential for growth early on, newcomers will want to work towards those next steps.

After my brief stint at the hotel, I started working as a barista at a popular coffee shop franchise. The orientation process was like night and day compared to the hotel. My manager personally walked me through an overview of the company. We then had coffee tastings and practiced making menu items before I ever stepped foot on the floor. When I did, I was assigned a mentor who never left my side. I eventually moved on to a job more aligned with what I studied in college, but because of how they treated me – especially in the beginning, I stayed a lot longer than I planned to, and I will be a lifelong brand ambassador.

It’s tough going through a major life transition like a new job, so making those initial interactions count can greatly serve your new asset. Welcome new employees with thoughtfulness and intention. It can strengthen your business both behind the scenes and out front.