Industry Update
Opinion Article20 February 2019

The Intrinsic Value of Wellness and Training Seminars

By Larry Mogelonsky, Managing Director Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited

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One of the underlying movements within modern corporate culture has been to transform the place of work into that of a quasi-second home. Your fellow employees are not just mere colleagues, but friends and family that support your soul and not just your wallet.

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Just as the in-vogue trend of wellness for hotels - in the form of guest amenities, property features and other front-of-house initiatives - has helped to generate newfound awareness and affection for brands, so too can the introduction of wellness programs into the back-of-house framework demonstrate yet another progression towards this ideal of friends and family in the workplace.

It's important to note at this point that much of this evolution has come about through necessity rather than purely through compassion. In our current labor pool-deficient market, the costs of losing good team members and having to find then train new associates are just too great to not invest in programs that help boost morale and prevent turnover.

Seminars As Introductions

While the general awareness amongst our peer groups for wellness is probably quite high - or at least above average - it is likely not nearly as well-understood for those who don't have the topic constantly popping up in their newsfeeds. For beginners, learning about things like nutrition, fitness, meditation and holistic healing can actually be quite intimidating as there's a wide range of information to take in at the outset.

Hence, a great shoehorn for your associates into the vast expense of many diverse fields of knowledge under the banner of wellness is to organize an interactive seminar or fun group event. This way there's less pressure to learn a specific curriculum, which can do wonders for generating curiosity and motivation for team members to independently pursue healthier lifestyles.

As it is often hard to integrate a dedicated wellness education in the weekly routine of a hotel given how hectic our work environments are and how little extra time we have, instead consider dedicated days or weeks where team members are given time off to attend wellness seminars - ones that you can even plan to host onsite. Held during off-peak periods and set up in a meeting space that hasn't been booked, these sessions might take the form of formal lectures on the subject, specific wellness activity training discussions, active exercise or ergonomic movement classes or fairs with booths from local vendors to browse at their convenience.

While these are hard to organize, the intrinsic benefits are nonetheless there, albeit via mostly indirect means. A generally healthier team is more productive as it takes fewer sick days, has more positive moods and, to be specific for those jobs requiring lots of manual labor, is less prone to chronic injuries resulting from improper repetitive motions. Above all, actively promoting the ideals of wellness within your property will improve morale to in turn reduce turnover and all the costs associated with finding good new employees.

Making It Ongoing

The key to utilizing wellness to enhance your hotel's corporate culture is to not leave it as a one-off, but rather to integrate it into your annual training program. While a yearly or quarterly event can still laudable, it can only elicit cursory interest for the subject matter. There simply is to no substitute for daily or weekly training, especially when this education works to improve one's overall wellbeing.

And this applies not just for any sessions you develop to teach your associates about wellness. Training for all topics pertinent to operating a property is undergoing its own transformation within the modern hotel corporate culture. Notably, we are shifting to a microlearning environment whereby training is technology-enabled and designed for associates to absorb information in bite-sized chunks at whatever time is most opportune for them.

While group seminars are sound introductory tools and great for teambuilding, they are, in essence, the icing on the cake. Any punctuated event must be reinforced through ongoing programs and recurrent assessments in order for the knowledge and shifts in attitude to stick. And this applies for what you teach about wellness as well as practically everything else.

While perusing the aisles at HITEC Houston in late June 2017, I had a delightful conversation on this topic with Roderick ten Wolde, CEO of Novility (www.novility.com), a provider of interactive training solutions for frontline hotel staff, housekeepers and other back-of-house workers.

During our follow-up interview, he keenly added that, "No matter where a hotel is in the world, training is the heart of its success. While the current wellness trend can definitely heighten the guest experience, if your staff aren't completing their tasks properly then none of these efforts will matter. Constant training must be a core part of a hotel's culture."

Just as wellness involves the pursuit of a holistically better way of living, any initiatives you undertake must likewise be comprehensive in nature for them to be effective. As I see it, ongoing training underpins any healthy corporate culture, and team wellness is but one beneficial offshoot from that. Seminars and any other activities you set up to engage your team must ultimately be layered on top of concrete training regimens.

Larry Mogelonsky

The world’s most published writers in hospitality, Larry Mogelonsky is the managing director of Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited. His experience encompasses hotel properties around the world, both branded and independent, and ranging from luxury and boutique to select-service. Larry also sits on several boards for companies focused on hotel technology.

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