Hospitality Employees Don’t Want to be Happy
By Todor Tzolov
Have you ever wanted to improve employee performance and thought, "What can I do to make my employees happier?" Our research shows that if you want to improve employee engagement, you should stop focusing on happy. Instead, understand what motivates employees and what increases their broader emotional commitment.
Emotional commitment means employees actually care about their work and their company. It means they are less concerned with their transactional relationship with their employer, their paycheck or next promotion. It also means they work on behalf of the organization's goals and embrace its core values. Emotionally committed employees can have a huge impact on your business.
Understanding employee emotions is critical to developing loyalty. But identifying, measuring and prioritizing them may seem like a challenge. To solve this obstacle, we established the Market Metrix Employee Emotion Scale. This was the first time such a scale was used to evaluate the connection between employees' workplace emotions and their loyalty to the employer.
Over the course of the past decade, we met with employees in focus groups, measured emotional commitment and analyzed industry-wide results annually to understand the most important positive emotions driving loyalty. Based on this research, 12 emotions were selected for the final Market Metrix Employee Emotion Scale.
In focus group interviews, front-desk personnel described how their work makes them feel powerful, including: "I've been told to make whatever decision I need to," and "I like the power of being almost on my own." Conversely, many employees were annoyed by policies that diminished their control over solving problems for guests, such as being forced to get a manager's approval to give a discount. Other loyal workers commented about cherishing the feeling of being appreciated, not only by their supervisors thanking them, but also by "guests, who often know your name." Employees also remarked on the importance of being proud of their workplace, stating they feel upset when facilities are neglected and investment in renovation may be in need.
As we collected hundreds of thousands of employee responses over the past 10 years, we continually analyzed which emotions are most critical to building loyalty. We found that of the 12 key emotions, employees who reported feeling "powerful," "appreciated," "proud" and "important" at work were more likely to be loyal employees. Feeling powerful was the strongest overall predictor, since loyal employees were 46 percent more likely to report feeling powerful at work compared with non-loyal employees. Loyal employees reported feeling appreciated 30 percent more often than non-loyal employees. Feelings of pride and importance also scored high among loyal employees. Loyal employees were 29 percent more likely to feel proud and 28 percent more likely to feel important.
It is interesting to note that the top four emotions that predict employee loyalty all are linked to an employee's sense of stature. It was also remarkable that "happy" ranked much lower, as seventh of the 12 emotions studied, in its ability to predict employee loyalty. This finding supports a belief held by many that the star performers in the hospitality industry are not necessarily those who describe themselves as most "happy" at work.
In summary, hospitality management would do well to focus on finding ways to improve employees' sense of empowerment because it is an effective and relatively untapped way to improve employee loyalty. Have a good example of empowered employees? Share your thoughts on how to improve employees' sense of power in the comments.
About Market Metrix
Clarabridge’s customer experience management platform helps hundreds of the world’s leading brands understand and improve the customer journey. Powered by the industry’s most sophisticated customer analytics engine, Clarabridge collects and transforms all forms of customer feedback into intelligence, allowing businesses to activate the voice of the customer across the enterprise. Industry leaders including PetSmart, United Airlines, L’Oréal USA, Virgin Active, Rackspace, and ADP use Clarabridge insights to inform key business decisions. The result: happy, loyal customers.