An Easy Way to Dramatically Improve Employee Morale (and It Costs Nothing!)

It’s autumn and the season of thankfulness. Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving in October, signifying the end of the summer abundance and the beginning of preparation for winter. In the United States, Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season, incorporating everything from celebrations to shopping.

In both countries and in many parts of the world, we have lots to be thankful for. In the US hotel industry alone, we have enjoyed an unprecedented 112 months of year-over-year RevPAR growth (HNN Newswire). But this historic run wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication and commitment of the more than 15.2 million people (according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ last count in October 2015) working in hotels, taking care of our guests.

When was the last time you said “Thank you” to one of your team members who make this happen? I’m not referring to the generic “Thank you for your help,” but specific awareness and acknowledgement of their work in helping a guest or a fellow employee or in moving the hotel closer to a goal.

This simple action requires minimal effort and zero expense, yet, according to 70 percent of employees, it would dramatically improve morale ( And of course, improved morale means an increase in productivity and employee engagement, both leading to higher customer satisfaction.

It’s not good enough to wait for the annual performance review to acknowledge and thank team members for exceptional work. Similarly, programs such as Employee of the Quarter are terrific, but great customer experiences are made up of many small acts of positive interactions. Large or small, these actions need to be encouraged by expressing gratitude when a team member makes it happen, giving them positive re-enforcement to do it again.

Some people prefer recognition in private, leaving the spotlight to others on the team, but whether it’s in public or private, be as specific as possible about the action. This shows that you, as the leader, care about each individual, are understanding of what’s important to each of them, and are aware of the work they do.

There are many ways to consistently show gratitude to your team. Here are some suggestions:

  • Write a hand-written note and leave it on an employee’s desk. I did this during a lengthy project overseeing a large team, leaving a personal note card on the desk of 3 people every Friday evening. I was later told that people looked forward to coming to work on Monday to see who got a note!
  • Make a note in your diary or in your Outlook ‘tasks’ when you see an action that exemplifies the values of the organization. Mark the task completed when you have verbally acknowledged that individual.
  • Ask your team to be involved, sharing whenever they see or experience activities that warrant a special “Thank you.”
  • Carry around special note cards (Ritz-Carlton calls them “First Class Cards”) so you can immediately write a note when you experience an action that goes above and beyond.
  • Give someone (or the whole team) the afternoon off as a thank-you for their hard work.


I’m extending a big “Thank you” to you, my Strategic Hospitality Report reader, for your ongoing dedication to improving the lives of employees while increasing revenue. I’m grateful to everyone who has engaged JH Hospitality Consulting to improve their business. To all my friends and business colleagues (who are now my friends), thank you for sharing your world with me.


"The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated."
William James

Take the Next Step Now

Prepare for a possible economic downturn by hiring Jo-Anne to

  • Improving Employee Engagement
  • Getting Behind Barriers that Impede Employee Productivity
  • Improving Customer Satisfaction
  • Providing Leadership Training
  • Conducting Leadership Executive Coaching
  • Creating a Healthy Organizational Culture
  • Optimizing your Sales and Marketing
  • Turning all your Employees into Drivers of Revenue

If you would like to hear more, simply reach out to Jo-Anne at
[email protected]

About Jo-Anne Hill

Jo-Anne is an industry expert who founded JH Hospitality Consulting to help hotels around the world dramatically improve revenue and profitability in creative ways. 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.

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