The Silent Killer of Morale


At the recent ALIS conference in Los Angeles, hotel CEOs rated labor as their #1 concern in 2019. Currently, an astonishing 10% of hotel positions in the USA remain unfilled making finding and keeping staff a top priority.

Good Company reports that when employees are engaged in their work, they are more likely to stay with the organization by an 87% margin. Similarly, they found that organizations with a highly engaged workplace had a 19.2% higher operating income than those with lower engagement scores. This means that finding ways to increase employee passion, commitment, and above-and-beyond effort has implications on retention as well as financial results.

While all of this is not news, the commitment to improve engagement is often intermittent and sadly, sometimes given attention only months before the next engagement survey.

How do you increase the passion and commitment of employees?

One of the first steps is to ask employees what they want in the workplace, and specifically getting their perspective on work that impacts them and generally ‘how things are done around here’ (the Barrett Values Centre definition of culture). Leaving an issue to work out on its own will only make matters worse as it will continue to fester if it is not addressed completely, objectively, and with a sense of urgency and concern. It will become the silent killer of morale and impact business with lower revenues as guests will not return.

To uncover hidden issues requires a trusting environment. If the distrust is especially high (reflected in an unacceptable engagement score), utilize the services of a neutral, objective facilitator who is trained to uncover all of the issues – including the deep-rooted ones – from the quietest person to the most vocal. Everyone needs to feel they have a voice and an opportunity to use it in a safe environment.

At one hotel where I facilitated a similar session, the feedback from attending employees was that they finally felt heard and one participant even commented that she felt ‘lighter’ after getting the issues off her chest.

Once employees have identified issues, solutions are then discussed followed by prioritizing an action plan to address the most frustrating concerns first. While listening to the issues and concerns of employees is the first step, it’s the prioritization and follow-up where the real wins happen.

At another hotel where this same process was conducted, a prioritized list of actions with due dates for completion was prepared. One year later, when I checked in to see how the plan was progressing, none of the items had been followed-up on and consequently, 80% of the team had left and gone to another hotel.


Creating an enthusiastic workplace and positive attitudes to go above-and-beyond will be a morale booster that will keep talented employees and attract great candidates. It will elevate the customer experience and result in higher revenue. A win-win all around!


"To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace."
Doug Conant

Take the Next Step Now

Improve your Customer Experience by hiring Jo-Anne to:

  • Get behind barriers that impede employee productivity
  • Create a healthy organizational culture
  • Improve employee engagement
  • Ask the customer what they want via focus groups
  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Leadership training
  • Leadership executive coaching

About Jo-Anne Hill

Founded by industry expert Jo-Anne Hill, JH Hospitality Consulting dramatically improves revenue and profitability in creative ways at hotels around the world. Her strategic thinking, skill, and practical approach to problem-solving come from hands-on experience at companies such as The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Mandarin-Oriental Hotel Group, Dorchester Collection and Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts.

If you would like more information on improving hotel revenue and profitability, simply reach out to Jo-Anne at
[email protected]

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