Best Fake Smiles

A guest is screaming at you at the front desk, and you are doing your best to resolve the situation. It’s been a terrible day so far and this is the last thing you needed! A high-pressure situation, and frankly not even your fault! How many of you or your teams have been in this situation?

Thoughts rapidly run through your head:
“We have done nothing wrong.”
“This is not our fault though.”
“This is unfair.”
“What do they want?”
“How can I resolve this”.
“Why are they making it personal”.
“I am just trying to help them.”
“There is no need to be rude.”
“Maintain your professionalism.”
“Do I really want to give this away for free?”
“But the impact of a 1-star review on TripAdvisor is huge!”
“What will my GM think?”

You manage to resolve the issue to the best of your ability. But it’s 4 o’clock – peak check-in period. No time to waste. You need to deal with the next guest.

“Good afternoon! Welcome to the hotel!” you exclaim with a smile on your face, that doesn’t quite meet your eyes, and in the most cheerful tone you can muster.

No time to dwell on the past and be upset, the next guest is here.

A recent study by the School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (SHTM) sheds light on the impact of emotional labour and emotional dissonance among guest-facing staff. The research reveals that greater emotional dissonance correlates with a higher desire among workers to leave their roles. When employees have to display insincere emotions and moods during service interactions, it increases the risk of burnout, poor job performance, low job satisfaction, and a desire to leave the role. Notably, emotional dissonance and its effects were found to have a more significant impact on Millennials compared to Baby Boomers, as the former are more likely to experience emotional burnout and leave their roles.

In the context of the current labour crisis and severe staff shortages in the hospitality industry, the most recent figures from The Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate the level of vacancies is still 48% higher than pre-Covid levels. Retaining your talent has never been more critical.

What can we learn from the study?

1. Provide your teams with an outlet and support, especially during tough days. Regular check-ins can help employees cope with emotional challenges. One former member of my team even bought me a small punching bag to affix to my desk.

2. Foster a safe environment and demonstrate trust in your team. Allow them to offer guests options, even the option to cancel their reservation, and be there for support when needed, without fearing unfair repercussions.

3. Actively listen to your team and address recurring issues that may be beyond their control, demonstrating that you value their concerns and experiences. There is nothing more frustrating than handling the same guest’s grievances daily. Simultaneously, ensuring that your team are kept well-informed about the measures being taken to address their concerns demonstrates the emphasis you place on their views and fosters transparency.

4. Empower employees to devise their own solutions tailored to each guest and situation, acknowledging their expertise in understanding guest needs.

5. Embrace Radical Collaboration®. Radical collaboration can reduce emotional dissonance among guest-facing staff and improve retention rates. It fosters open communication, empathy, and a sense of collective ownership. Empowered employees experience less burnout and increased job satisfaction. A positive work environment enhances team cohesion and motivates staff to stay long-term.

The emotional challenges faced by guest-facing staff in the hospitality industry are significant and can lead to emotional dissonance and burnout. The impact of this emotional labour is particularly pronounced among Millennials, highlighting the need for effective strategies to retain talent in the face of a labour crisis. Giving teams an outlet to express their feelings, fostering a safe environment built on trust, actively listening to their concerns, and empowering them to devise their own solutions are crucial steps in supporting and retaining valuable staff. Additionally, embracing Radical Collaboration through workshops can create a positive work environment, where open communication and empathy thrive, ultimately reducing emotional dissonance and improving employee retention rates. By prioritising the well-being of guest-facing staff our industry can build resilient and dedicated teams, ensuring exceptional guest experiences and sustainable success.

Read the original article here: The cost of faking a smile – Insights (