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Five ways to improve workforce productivity

We recently interviewed 40 employers in the hospitality and tourism sector to see how they were increasing the productivity and performance of their businesses in order to remain competitive at a time of political and economic uncertainty.
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Like many other industries, hospitality and tourism businesses are having to boost efficiency in order to offset costs whilst at the same time maximising customer experience and profitability. But what steps are these bosses taking and what advice can be shared from other sectors? Here are the top five tips for improved productivity.

1) Create a positive impression and be honest about the role

One of the most disruptive and easily avoidable productivity issues is when people don’t stay in a job for long. At the simplest level, this means they do not become fully competent, and if they are not fully competent, then they cannot become fully productive. For example, one hotel chain has found that hotels with more stable management teams and lower people turnover also achieve higher customer experience scores.

A good tip to reduce the chance of a new recruit leaving after a short time is to be realistic about the job and what it entails. It’s all too common to avoid mentioning the downside of a role, which creates disappointment when realty does not match up to expectations. It is also important to maximise your brand and the values it represents – which is believed to be particularly important to the millennial generation.

2) Poor management is a productivity killer

Poor management is another reason for low productivity. This can be because people have been over-promoted into management roles and lack the relevant management skills or experience to do their jobs effectively. As a result, the skills and performance of managers is a major focus for businesses when it comes to talent retention and a productive and motivational work environment.

Don’t make the classic mistake of promoting someone into a management role because they are good at their job. First-time managers need help to learn their role. Management skills can be and should be developed and this should be viewed as an essential investment.

3) Use technology to boost productivity

An important lesson to be learned from the hospitality and tourism sector is that technology needs to be viewed through a customer experience lens as part of a system, rather than an end in itself. Using technology to re-think the customer journey can help staff to undertake specific tasks more effectively. Introduce new technologies within the job design and also use it to monitor performance.

We also found substantial improvements with the use of new technologies in areas such as stock control, staff scheduling and absence management. So make sure that you stay up to speed with the latest technical innovations.

4) Employee motivation

No business can avoid this one. Changing values of employees is one of the most significant disruptors to businesses today. This theme emerged strongly from our research, with most employers consistently highlighting that younger staff were motivated by different factors and need to be engaged and managed differently than previous generations.

Make a point of reviewing how younger members of staff are remunerated and rewarded. If you want them to be as motivated and productive as possible, it may be necessary to change how you engage with them.

5) Change your approach to recruitment

Fine tune your recruitment process to find the most motivated and highly productive people right from the outset. In particular, cast the net wider to target people you would not have originally thought of like older workers and women returners. Also, how employers advertise is changing radically, with social media and apps replacing job boards and ads.

As one employer told us, “That’s the definition of insanity, isn’t it – keep doing the same thing expecting different results.” When it comes to recruitment, see if there is scope to change the way you recruit based on evidence of what works in today’s changing labour market.

Conclusion

Whilst it’s true that taken individually, none of these points are earth shattering, it’s clear that a broad and holistic approach is essential in helping to drive productivity.

There is also a growing acceptance that HR strategy needs to be aligned with business strategy if a business is serious about driving profitability. And, although employers will be at different stages of this journey, there is at least a growing recognition of the importance of a company’s people strategy when it comes to getting this right.

Driving productivity in hospitality and tourism, (free download link) was based on interviews with senior HR executives from 40 of the largest employers in the hospitality and tourist sectors.

Martin-Christian Kent is executive director at People 1st

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