The ‘millennial’ influence on the work space is growing. Digitalisation is bringing in increasing transparency and employees are expecting a more engaging and enjoyable work experience. The focus is on leaders developing the ‘Employee Experience’. How do they create an ecosystem that brings together the three core dimensions: engagement, culture and performance management? Donald Gasper puts this question to some of the experts.

Hotels value service quality and customer satisfaction that can only be provided by an enthusiastic and motivated workforce which is hospitable and enjoys delivering a memorable experience to guests. For this it is necessary to create a more enjoyable work environment for hotel employees.

“The tourism and hospitality industry has demonstrated its capacity to adapt to challenges over the last few decades with its emergence from the one-size-fits-all mass tourism model of the eighties to the experiential service model of co-created tourism that exists today,” says Dr. Laurie Baker-Malungu, a lecturer at the Institute for Tourism Studies in Macau. “However, the same cannot necessarily be said of the management of job experiences and career expectations among the tourism and hospitality workforce. To the same extent that we attempt to manage the tourist/client experience so that it is positively correlated with word of mouth recommendation and revisit intention, a similar degree of attention should be applied to workplace management.”

Demonstration of professional knowledge and skills is a given prerequisite for employees recruited to serve in the industry; however, in order to sustain a high standard of customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction must also be supported. “In that Generation Y employees comprise a large percentage of the 21st century workforce, human resource management strategies should adapt to the unique drivers and forces that shape the behaviour of this employee cohort,” says Baker-Malungu. She draws reference from the exploratory work of Fyal, Leask, Barron & Ladkin published in 2017 to better understand the sociocultural framework through which Asian millennial employees are animated.

“The service industry is best served by a workforce which possesses an altruistic mindset, whereby there is a desire to contribute to the well-being of others,” she says. “In that members of Generation Y strive to attain meaningful life experiences, they are well positioned to be service providers, but at the same time need a supportive work environment that can both recognize and enhance their capacity. The five domains of the experiential learning model (sensory, social, behavioural, cognitive and affective) can be applied to guide workplace management to ensure that the full potential of the workplace can be realised through an altruistic service model.”

Motivating employee performance

Dr Alice Hon, Associate Professor at the School of Hotel and Tourism Management of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), makes some suggestions from managers’ perspective of managers on how to motivate employee performance:

First, managers should adopt a “hands on” approach where top management and leadership will manage on the frontline rather than from the confines of offices. This will create a more cohesive and confident workforce and also emphasise the important priority of spending as much time as possible with hotel guests.

Secondly, organisational culture is important in linking a firm’s mission, vision, values and business strategy that highlight operating quality and financial performance. Then managers should create management practices and opportunities for individual employees to be appraised and assessed according to their capacity.

Thirdly, managers should understand that employees are the most important asset of an organisation. Make each of them understand that they are special, professional, and important the first day when joining the organisation. Professional means that they are not afraid to face challenges and get noticed for their hard work and perseverance in achieving excellence.

Fourthly, talent management programmes should be developed that are tied together across the organisation by connecting those to the appropriate training development, succession planning, compensation and benefit systems. This integrated approach will result in a personalised talent development experience that will create strong, capable and confident future leaders for the company.

Fifthly, managers should also utilise the advancement of information technology to facilitate the integration of employee development and engagement. For example, adopting a flexible work environment and process to motivate the workforce, implementing a competency-based performance management solution to assist management in creating performance appraisals, assessments, development planning and career and succession planning. Database such as PMS may be used to provide and trace the knowledge and training activities that are required, based on an individual’s skill and capability, and unique personal development plan.

Finaly, other activities such as traditional training, on-the-job training, coaching and mentoring programmes should also be utilised. Invite external expertise or initiatives if necessary to assist in meeting internal development objectives. For example, organise courses, lectures, or workshops by academic or professional institutions or hire a professional with solid experience in a specific area that the organisation wants to target.