10 Tips For Motivating Employees

10 Tips For Motivating Employees In The Hospitality Industry

Why is it important to give particular attention to motivating employees in the Hospitality Industry?   Well, consider the words of J. Willard Marriott:

“Take good care of your employees,

and they’ll take good care of your customers,

and the customers will come back.” 


It is for this reason that motivating employees should play a big part in any service-based team. But more so for teams working in the hospitality industry. 

We’re only human. And we are all subject to the inevitable emotional ups and downs that everyone can experience. But, in a workplace where one can get yelled at, and be mistreated by rude guests, on a daily basis, it is easy for spirits to become deflated.  

When that is coupled with long hours, erratic schedules, missed special occasions and leaders who have no idea how to run a team… Well, it is enough to make even the best employees rethink their career path choice. 

This is why good leadership is vital. 

How exactly do you go about motivating employees to give their best performance at work? And not just any employees.  But employees who need to get through the day with a genuine (or at least genuine-looking) smile plastered on their face. Employees who are expected to deliver a level of service that feels sincere. 

For an employee this ‘ask’ can be easier said than done.  Especially if they are feeling hollow, unhappy or demotivated.

I should know. I’ve been there.


Working up through the ranks, I’ve experienced working under amazing leadership. And I’ve also worked under, or with, supervisors and managers who had absolutely no idea what they were doing.  

And, you can definitely tell when a team has a good leader.  They look happier, snappier and more eager to please. And they are more likely to extend whatever help they can to a guest, or even to other employees and other teams.

Over the years, I’ve observed good motivational practice from leaders that I admire.  And I have taken mental notes of the things that other leaders did, which were not as effective in pumping up a team to give their best.

When I became a manager and had the opportunity to lead a team of more than 30 people, I decided I would put what I’d learned, and observed, to the test. 

Here are some of the things I found to be effective when it comes to motivating employees and a team.  Approaches which raise their spirits and help them deal with the negative emotions associated with working in the service industry.

10 Tips For Motivating Employees In the Hospitality Industry

Genuinely get to know your people.

There is no shortcut to this. 

To be a great leader, you must take the time to get to know each, and every person in your team. This is important because what motivates one person may not be the same for another; different strokes for different folks. 

For instance, one of your team members may get more pumped up and motivated by praise delivered publicly. So making a big deal, and acknowledging their contribution during a team briefing, will work wonders. 

Another team member may instead feel embarrassed and uncomfortable being placed in such a spotlight.  However, taking a moment in private to acknowledge and praise them, sees them leaving the office happy, proud and determined to earn more such praise.

Manger sitting with a member of staff and having a cup of coffee. Article 10 Tips for motivating employees by MY RANGGO Hospitality Magazine
By getting to know your team you can identify the best way to motivate them at work

By getting to know your team and their preferences, a skill that you already apply to get to know a valued guest, you will be able to easily identify what you can say or do that will encourage or maintain greater motivation at work.

Practice what you preach.

Nothing makes an employee lose interest, in being an excellent team member, faster than seeing his team leader not “walk the talk.” 

How can you go about motivating employees to come in early, or on time, if you yourself are always late? 

How can you motivate them to up their level of service to guests, if they always see you just doing the bare minimum? 

Your team is always watching you.

And if they see a great leader. A leader who provides excellent service to guests consistently. A leader who abides by the company rules and regulations, and who maintains his integrity at all times, then they are more likely to follow suit.

Praise in public, reprimand in private

Sadly, there are still many leaders who do not practice this basic leadership rule. 

Employees are bound to make mistakes at some point in their careers. When they do, they usually feel bad enough about it already. 

Confronting them, or addressing their mistake, in front of colleagues or guests can result in their motivation plummeting to ground zero.  

It is always best to take them to one side. Ideally to a private corner or room.  Then discuss what went wrong and suggest what they can do in future, so that it won’t happen again. 

Manager holding a disciplinary meeting with two employees in an office. Article 10 Tips for motivating employees by MY RANGGO Hospitality Magazine

On the flip side, when they do something good, such as get a shining guest commendation. Or they offer to extend an entire shift to cover for an absent teammate.  Show your appreciation by praising them publicly during a team meeting (if this won’t embarrass them). Or via an employee e-mail blast. Bonus points if you include the GM! 

You can also utilize the department bulletin board to acknowledge your star performers. 

Treat your team members with fairness and equality.

As human beings, we are naturally inclined to prefer or be closer to some people more than others. Perhaps someone from your team is a personal friend. Or someone who shares the same interests as you do. 

In any case, try not to let these personal affinities affect how you make decisions surrounding your team. People notice when you have certain biases or favoritism. And that can be one major motivation killer. 

Be fair when making the schedule. Rotate your team equally around shifts and don’t assign the same employees to the same schedule as you, just because you prefer to spend time with them. 

Consider every person’s shift and leave requests equally. Everyone has a personal life they are trying to balance with their work. 

We can’t always like everyone the same amount, but we can always be fair and objective with decisions that could affect the overall performance of the team.

Provide helpful training and encourage employees to keep learning.

Even the best performing employee can experience a lack of motivation if they start to feel they are stuck in a job that no longer provides growth for them. 

When people feel stagnant in their job, feelings of restlessness, bitterness and boredom can start to creep in. 

As leaders we need to make sure employees keep learning and upgrading the software inside their heads, to continuously challenge and develop them. 

Manager standing in front of a white board, leading a training session with her team. Article 10 Tips for motivating employees by MY RANGGO Hospitality Magazine

Plus, the more you train your people, the better they get at doing what they do So, it’s really a win-win.

Provide equal opportunities for promotion

If an employee believes that there is little chance of promotion no matter what they do, they will start to believe that it really doesn’t matter if they do a stellar job, or just get by day-by-day in a mediocre fashion. 

It is important for them to believe that opportunities for growth, within the team, will be awarded to anyone who is best fit for the job. 

Encourage them to plan ahead.  To consider where they want to be in a few years’ time. And to start working towards that.  Whether it is through additional learning, expanding on their inter-personal skills, or volunteering for additional responsibilities which will grow their experience. 

There is a saying: 

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have! 

That applies here too. When a person has a clear goal in mind, their motivation comes out from within more easily.

Keep your communication doors open.

The only way for you to know how to solve a problem is to know that there is a problem to solve to begin with. 

If employees feel that they can’t come to you, it will be very difficult to troubleshoot any problems there may be deep within the department. 

And, if people are experiencing conflict within the team, it will impact on their performance and affect the team overall.  So, you need to be on top of it! 

If people are having trouble adjusting to a new system, or are facing challenges with a newly implemented work schedule, you need them to feel able to tell you, so that you can do something about it.

Create a work environment that will make them look forward to going to work every day.

If you’ve ever been part of a team where no one gets along. Or where people pull each other down. A team where laughter is seldom heard or you feel like you’re walking on eggshells all the time. Then you’ll know that feeling of dragging your feet to work every single day. 

Now, you can’t always control how people will get along. But you can help create a working atmosphere where people are not be afraid to laugh and be themselves.  

Manager and her team sharing a pizza together after work. 10 Tips for motivating employees by MY RANGGO Hospitality Magazine

Provide an opportunity for your team to get to know one another on a different level. Consider holding small fun team-building activities. Have a pizza party once in a while. And join in on the fun. 

When employees are happy, it shows in the way they work. And in how they treat their guests.

Reward good performance.

Maybe it stems from when we were kids and we would get a star stamped on our hand if we did a good job. But there is something about seeing or receiving something physical as a proof or validation that we did something right. 

Depending on your budget, you could give out rewards for good performance. It can be something as simple as a printed-out certificate, or a donut. A coffee-shop gift certificate for a cup of coffee, or a chocolate bar. It doesn’t need to be fancy. 

A little reward, which acknowledges that they are doing their job well, will only encourage them to keep doing a great job.

Last but not the least, arrange for good cash bonuses or a salary increase.

We are no strangers to the fact that the majority of us work to earn a living. We have families to feed, savings accounts that we want to fatten up and dream purchases we want to make. 

Cash bonuses and salary increases are a great motivator, if your company budget allows for it.  It is a way to boost the morale of your team and energize them to perform their best. 

You’ll never see a happier, more engaged, eager-to-please group of workers than right after the release of a bonus. When they receive acknowledgement of a job performed well, and feel that their financial needs are taken care of, they will value their job and strive hard to excel at it.

Motivating employees is tricky because so many factors can affect their emotional status, on any given day. However, once you know the core of what motivates people, it will be easier for you, as a leader, to manage your team and lead them to success.

Do you have a good leader but you still feel you are not performing at your best?  Check out John Savage’s helpful article 6 Things You Should Stop Doing Now!

Do you have other tips in providing motivation for a service-based team? 

Share them with us in the comments!

What do you think?

Written by Angel Lam Ko

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

Hotel Duty Manager standing in lobby observing employees and guests. Article a day in the life of a hotel duty manager by MY RANGGO Hospitality Magazine

A Day in The Life of a Hotel Duty Manager

Celebrity checking in to a hotel under the fake name Bridget Jones. Article The 5 Commandments of Guest Privacy by MY RANGGO Hospitality Magazine

The 5 Commandments of Hotel Guest Privacy