Expert’s Voice: Why hotels should embrace digitalisation
Digital technology can help hotel management engage more effectively with frontline teams amid the challenges arising from Covid19, argues Andrada Paraschiv, head of hospitality at Beekeeper.
Here are four digitalisation trends that emerged from the turmoil of Covid19, each of which are reshaping the corporate culture of hospitality companies and the way managers are engaging with employees and vice versa for the foreseeable future.
Digitalisation is helping managers really know their frontline workers
An important question that hospitality operators found themselves struggling to answer in 2020 was ‘Who are our frontline workers?’ This extends far beyond knowing a person’s name and job title.
Rather, it’s a matter of knowing: Is Bob Smith engaged with the business? Does he understand the company culture? Is he receiving relevant employment information, reading the content, and acting upon instructions?
Before you can know your guests, you must first get to know those with whom you entrust your guests’ experiences. Digitalising the workplace speeds the familiarisation process. It breaks down walls, removes language barriers, and provides an easily accessible snapshot of everyone you employ, from longevity with the company and career goals to comments from guests and managers about their performance.
Digitalisation also ensures that everyone is receiving information relevant to their jobs, and it provides audit-trail capabilities to identify who responded to content streams and who did not. Management can confirm that communication campaigns were launched, and they can measure effectiveness. Finally, digitalisation gives employees a voice by connecting all teams regardless of shift or location, a central channel on which to communicate. It provides a means for voicing concerns or asking questions that may otherwise be difficult to ask in person.
So, if you want to know who your employees are, what they like or don’t like, what they know or don’t know, what their strengths and weaknesses are, if they require further training, how they prefer to communicate and in which languages, and how they contribute to the organisation, employers are finding that they can simply learn or ask them via a digitalised employee-communication platform.
Digitalisation is empowering employees to do their jobs better
Today, frontline workers are being subjected to on-the-job experiences that no job description could have prepared them for. Often, they are asked to ramp up productivity to meet market demands that were unheard of just a few months ago.
Throughout all this, these unsung hospitality heroes are also tasked with being the face of the company. They are asked to interact with customers as de facto brand ambassadors at a time when two social phenomena are at play:
1) Being required to interact with the public, frontline workers are at greater risk for contagions like coronavirus
2) Being required to interact with guests who are stressed while travelling during a pandemic and so they may be rude or abrupt, which adds to employee frustration
Digitalising employee communications equips workers with tips that they can access in an instant on how to handle today’s safety and social issues. Operators are uploading digital training videos, and sending surveys and quizzes, safety tips and reminders, and informational updates to all employees in real time to quickly prepare all teams for the task at hand and amidst today’s new normal.
Digitalising employee communications also conveys protocol changes, keeps up morale, and emphasises the importance of following safety guidelines. Digitalisation makes it easier for workers to articulate operational safety messaging and live up to it. Digitalisation also brings multilingual functionality to workers whose first language is not English.
Arming workers with a digital arsenal of information equips them with the tools needed to do their jobs better and it empowers them to take pride in their work, benefitting guests, management, peers and ultimately themselves.
Digitalisation is reducing friction, streamlining agility and improving safety
Digitalising the workforce drives more than employee engagement. When implemented correctly, it facilitates efficiency, agility and shortens time-to-market with essential information.
Hoteliers are seeing first-hand the benefits of improving the way that frontline employees work with existing processes and systems within the organisation. Digitalising paper-based processes, making employee handbooks readily available, reducing friction and improving access to resources each play a key role in operational communication success.
Digital communication ensures that employers can reach employees quickly. This is essential to maintaining agility in fast-changing times. Digital communication improves access to industry knowledge, resources and the tools workers need to do their jobs quickly and efficiently.
Digitalisation also ensures that the safety of frontline teams is a top priority. It makes health and safety information readily available to frontline teams so they can stay up to date and informed on the latest standard operating procedures and safety guidelines.
Digitalisation is creating a culture of access and self-empowerment
Granting frontline workers access to key information when they need it and how they prefer to access it also is critical to a successful digital enablement programme. These employees are some of the most dynamic contributors on any staff, and they can often be found anywhere a problem needs solving.
Having the right data will equip them with the knowledge to make informed decisions about their futures and will supply stakeholders with information needed to deliver high-quality services. Since the onset of Covid19, demand for platforms such as Beekeeper have grown tenfold. Hotels and restaurants that have digitalised their workforces are leapfrogging over their competition that still operate with desk-based solutions.
The bottom line is this: frontline workers determine the customer experience. Ultimately, they are responsible for your business’ survival. When businesses bring frontline workers into the conversation, it deepens management’s understanding of their needs and it empowers the frontline workers to be successful in their jobs and make their companies successful.
This is not a ‘nice to have’ in 2021…it is a ‘must have’ to maintain organisational success.
This is an edited version of an article that appeared on Hospitality Net.
Head of hospitality at Beekeeper
Andrada Paraschiv works as the head of hospitality at Beekeeper, a mobile-first communication platform built for frontline employees.
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