The hospitality industry has quite a busy start to the month of September with National Hotel Employee Day on September 1 followed by Housekeeping Appreciation Week September 3–9.
Last year, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) partnered with the National Day Calendar to establish National Hotel Employee Day as the first of September to “thank hotel employees for their hard work and dedication and recognize the integral role they play in our nation’s travel, tourism, and hotel industries.” On the other hand, Housekeeping Appreciation Week started over 40 years ago as a single day to celebrate the indispensable housekeeping staff — but has quickly become a week-long tradition for the industry. Without hotel employees, these facilities wouldn’t be able to function and the industry would be in peril.
These holidays are of even more importance when you realize that the hospitality industry has yet to recover from the pandemic. In fact, according to the July Bureau of Labor Statistics Jobs Report, the hospitality and leisure sector is down 2.5% (or roughly 250,000) roles from pre-pandemic employment levels — meaning that you need to do everything in your power to keep your existing employees content with your hotel.
When your staff (housekeeping and otherwise) feel recognized and valued, they’re more likely to share their experience with their friends, family, and peers — which can help drive more talent towards your open roles with employee referrals. In fact, our 2023 State of Hospitality Hiring Report found that 90% of hospitality workers would refer someone in their network to a previous employer if they had a good experience with them.
So what can you do to recognize your team for National Hotel Employee Day and Housekeeping Appreciation Week? We’ve come up with six things you can do to make employees feel needed and valued at your hotel.
6 ways to show gratitude toward your employees
You want to make sure that you make the connection between how important the work your staff does and the overall success of your hotel. After all, without your housekeepers, you wouldn’t be able to turn over rooms; and without your front desk staff, you wouldn’t be able to easily check guests in and out. Your workers are a vital part of keeping your guests happy and your occupancy rate high — and your overall success!
Keeping that in mind, our advice is to:
Say thank you!
Saying “thank you” can go a lot farther than you might think. Be sure to say “thank you” to every member of your team, present everyone with a personalized email or note, and put up signage in your break room, laundry room, or where else your staff frequents as another way of expressing your gratitude and appreciation for your workers’ commitment to your hotel. A genuine thank you is easy for you and it means a lot to who you give it to. This should also be a tactic that you use throughout the year — not just during a designated period of time for appreciation.
Host team time
Saying thank you is only one piece to the gratitude puzzle; you should pair these words with an action, like hosting some sort of event that honors your staff. This could be a picnic, a catered lunch, or an awards ceremony to highlight exceptional members of your team. Maybe you have pizza delivered one day for lunch or you bring in pastries from the local bakery. The key here is to host special events (no matter how big or small) that make your employees feel special and appreciated for the hard work they do.
You don’t have to host an actual awards ceremony, but you should give awards during these times to recognize stand out-employees and honor team member anniversaries. For example, maybe you give workers some branded swag or a box full of goodies and shine a spotlight on them once they reach their one year, three year, and five year anniversaries. Using this opportunity to recognize their service is a good retention incentive, simply because it gives folks a goal to work towards and keeps them from abandoning the hard work they’ve put in for other opportunities by playing into the sunk cost fallacy.
Sometimes the best way to show you can is simply by listening — so make it a point during these upcoming holidays to solicit feedback from your staff and build on what they have to say. You could send out a survey via email or designate a suggestion box for team members to anonymously share what they like about working for you, what they think could be improved, etc. By making real and legitimate changes as a direct result of this feedback demonstrates that you actually care about your staff’s well-being and what they have to think.
Give genuine gifts
Perhaps this was one of the first ways you thought of to express your gratitude, but it should come as no surprise that giving gifts is also a good way to show appreciation. You could choose to do this through gift cards, cash bonuses, swag branded with your hotel or resort’s logo, or even perks like extra PTO and mental health days. It’s important to remember, however, that your workers will know if this is just a hollow display of gratitude with no real emotion behind it. If you choose to give gifts, you should pair this tactic with one or more mentioned in this guide so you have a comprehensive (and wholehearted) plan of appreciation.
Post your appreciation
While you should certainly express your gratitude on a personal level through notes and conversation, you should also post your appreciation publicly. Spotlight staff members on your career site or feature individuals on your social media profiles who are celebrating work anniversaries. For a lot of folks, public recognition is heady and can add even more meaning to whatever kind message you share. Plus, this is a great strategy to improve your employer branding because it shows potential applicants how deeply you value your team.
Are you ready for the upcoming hospitality holidays?
Hospitality workers are the backbone of the travel industry, no two ways about it. Without these employees, you wouldn’t be able to keep up with increasing travel demand, book your rooms to capacity, or maximize revenue for your property. That’s why you need to deliberately plan out how you intend to express your gratitude towards your employees during National Hotel Employee Day on September 1 and Housekeeping Appreciation Week from September 3rd – 9th.
The best way to show your appreciation? By having a full staff roster. If you want to see how you can hire better talent faster at your hotel, let’s connect!