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This is a bit of a rhetorical question as we all know that rewarding employees improves productivity.

I recently came across an interesting article, a research done at the University of Maastricht, by prof. Non, which states that making compliments or encouraging staff indeed makes them perform better.

When complimenting or rewarding a selected employee one can observe that their eagerness, their commitment increases.

What was new to the researchers was that when encouraging more than one in a team, the individuals performing the least felt that they had to perform better.

Rewarding selected individuals in a team improves the overall performance of said team.

Prof. Non expressed his surprise at this outcome.

But is this really a surprise?

Do we really need university studies to discover this?

Yes, because this message needs to be repeated all the time.

The sad truth is that, despite our knowledge, we do not encourage or stimulate our staff enough.

Look at our children, they bask in pleasure when we give them praise, they never get enough of it and I have to admit that I have sinned many a time by not forking out enough praise to my children or to employees that I worked with.

In our business we have had the employees of the year, month or week and all hospitality partners are familiar with these.

You can enter some hotels and see their wall of fame at the entrance.

This is generally the consequence of a good customer service programmes and most hotel companies will have those. It will start at recruiting, include training and support as well as career development.

LHC has created a working model for this The Service Activation Model, taking into account the whole journey.

We have encouraged many other businesses, that we’ve been asked to intervene in, to do the same.

We worked for a cruise company, for a digital imagery company, for retail and we’ve said this very thing, to encourage employees by rewarding them in public.

Our employees are intelligent enough to understand why someone was selected for his achievements and they will feel pride in seeing one of their colleagues called on stage at the annual conference.

We also know that most, if not all of our employees somehow aspire to be there one day as well, to be on stage, so it is a very good thing to positively use this feeling of adherence to stimulate better performance.

But this does not absolve the floor managers, the department heads, and the leaders at each level to encourage and stimulate their employees on a daily basis.

Let’s not look at complicated solution like setting KPI’s, measuring them, holding appraisals etc..

Rewarding employees is also the little things, a well meant “thank you” or “well done” when an employee did more than what he was supposed to do or expected to do.

Complimenting or rewarding employees should not only be for the same ones all the time, this research proved that complimenting more than one employee in a team was the key in getting the under performers to perform better.

But we also need to look at rewarding employees despite their lack of outstanding results.

In a previous job, I was supporting hotel teams in the preopening and opening phases. Some of these hotels did not perform well in their first year, some of the hotels never performed at all. And most of the time, this had very little to do with the team, but was a consequence of external reasons, like a development that didn’t take place, a public transport line that didn’t materialise or a massive delay in the opening.

But none of those teams ever got rewarded for their outstanding performance during this crucial phases : that they worked day and night and kept staff levels to absolute minimum, that they unloaded truck after truck of materials, their unrelenting efforts to enhance the brand…

We also believe in acknowledging and rewarding effort and not only achievements.

But what about the customers?

People around us are observing us and each other all the time and the positive stimuli that they observe make them feel better.

We have observed that customers will feel better when they see employees treating each other with respect and with a positive approach.

When you stand in line waiting to be served and you see 2 employees greeting each other nicely, or smiling to each other, you will expect them to be nice to you.

When you see 2 employees snapping at each other, you will anticipate bad service or you will hope none of those will take care of your problem.

There is a mathematical consequence to this feel-good policy : customers that feel good spend more, complain less and forgive more, thus generating more revenue and causing less costs needed to correct problems or deal with complaints.

What more would you want?

And we’re not the only ones that say this.

About the Author

Photo P.Verbeke 4×6

Pierre Verbeke Senior Consultant at Lausanne Hospitality Consulting

Pierre Verbeke is a Senior Consultant at LHC. He has an extensive career in hotel operations, pre-openings and re-brandings. He is first and foremost an operational person having managed several hotels in Belgium and having set up many pre-opening teams in different countries. He also has gained a wealth of experience opening hotels for a large Hotel Operator in various European, North African and Eastern European countries. He is particularly at ease with project management and knows how to deliver the highest quality of service within the agreed timeframe.

Pierre has experience with leased, managed and franchise properties and undserstands the various demands from owners, investors, and operators within the different projects. Pierre is an alumnus of Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne. He speaks Dutch, German, French and English, with some notions of Spanish.