Employee Retention and Appreciation

Employee retention within the hospitality industry varies from company to company. The way you make your employees feel appreciated is directly related to your internal employee recognition and professional development strategy. Content and happy employees are more likely to stay with you, turn into loyal employees, and contribute to your revenue. Research indicates most workers feel underappreciated at work even as companies offer more perks and benefits. Each month in the US, 3 to 4.5 million employees quit their job according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS)*.

*source: bls.gov - Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey


As a result of Covid 19 restrictions, many hospitality and hotel staff members have been laid off or have rethought their careers entirely, causing companies significant damage. Unemployment in the hospitality industry reached 37.3% in April 2020 after many lockdown measures were put in place, according to U.S. Labor Statistics*. When an organization recognizes employee contribution efforts, with perks, incentives, and unique programs, it makes a big difference to the overall culture. However, sometimes having a hefty benefits package alone may not be enough. Organizations must make employees feel appreciated for small wins, keep them connected to their teams, and make them feel as if they belong to the company's overall mission. Linking employees to the larger goal encourages their productivity and accountability in the long run. It was found in a survey that 94% would stay at their current employer if they invested in their long-term learning**.


*Source: Washington State University - Layoffs pushed hospitality workers to leave the industry.

**Source: LinkedIn- 2021 Workplace Learning Report

Why is employee retention so important?

A well-designed employee retention strategy helps boost morale, maintain a good customer experience, and reduce overall costs. A strong learning culture led to 30–50% high retention rates in companies*. Showing appreciation to team members and recognizing them for their positive impact on your organization is critical to the success of any business. Making your employees feel valued and providing them with opportunities for growth within your company are key to retaining them. When an employee does not feel valued at work, 76% look for another job opportunity.

We spoke to former hospitality executives and they share some innovative ideas and tips for employee retention. Get ideas on how to create a nurturing workplace culture and ensure that your employees feel appreciated and valued at work through these employee retention strategies.

*Source: roberthalf.co.uk - Employers fear 4.5m workers could be on the move this year

**Source: medium.com - Why Employees Quit

‘The beauty of an enterprise like a hotel is that there is a need for a wide variety of skills and personality types. Sometimes a lateral move that provides a change of pace, a new perspective or a new experience is all that is needed to retain an employee.’

Lenny LaCour, 30-year hospitality veteran & Co-Founder of Trust Well Network

Take a holistic approach that considers the needs of employees at all life stages. Some employees may look for extended maternity/paternity leave time; others would like more vacation time; while those nearing retirement might be interested in a part-time schedule.’

Scott Samuels, CEO of Horizon Hospitality Associates

‘My biggest tip for retaining employees in the hospitality industry is to focus your perks and incentives around mental health. Hospitality employees have it much harder than other industries, dealing with problematic guests and vendors on extremely tight deadlines. Offering mental health benefits such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help them relieve stress and resolve conflicts and problems. These benefits will increase customer satisfaction and help you retain your employees.’

Sai Blackbyrn, Ex-hospitality Expert & CEO of Coach Foundation

Working in the hospitality industry for the last decade, I have come to the realization that employees can either make or break an organization. This is why I focus my efforts on introducing different incentives to reduce employee turnover. I give rewards to my employees based on their track record. I use different metrics to measure the performance of my employees. Individuals who score well on the scorecard are given an extra vacation day, and individuals who are at the bottom are given the training to help improve their performance. Our hotel pays for these training sessions, as we value the growth of our employees.

The tips for effectively retaining your employees are as follows:

  • Give employees creative freedom to make their own decisions.
  • Foster a culture of respect in the workplace to make employees feel valued.
  • Gain regular feedback from employees.

Irene McConnel, Former Hospitality Leader & MD Arielle Executive

Empower your team to do their best work.

The hospitality and hotel workplace has undergone a complete transformation. Having an employee retention strategy in place from the beginning is crucial to hiring top talent and retaining staff. An effective reward and recognition program can enhance productivity, boost employee morale, foster collaboration, and create a wholesome workplace environment.

What are some of the ways you’re winning the hearts and minds of your team and retaining your employees? What’s your company's reward and recognition strategy? Join the conversation on our social media channels.