“People want guidance, not rhetoric. They need to know what the plan of action is and how it will be implemented. They want to be given responsibility to help solve the problem and the authority to act on it.” - Howard Schultz, Starbucks
Businesses have a vision, a dream, a mission for what they want to deliver to their customers. Maybe it’s a delicious meal or luxurious hotel room. Either way, businesses have created a way of operating to execute this vision. It’s their plan; their blueprint for collective action to deliver, delight and, ultimately, make money.
Typically, at least in most frontline businesses, this execution involves two lines of defense. The first line interacting directly with customers: front-of-house, reservations, waiters, door staff. The second line, equally important to creating the experience, don’t interact directly: housekeepers, cleaning staff, kitchen staff.
What doesn’t make sense to us is why do all the tools go to just the front line of defense?
For guests, housekeeping teams are kept somewhat of a secret. They enter the room to clean when no-one’s around and they, ideally, leave no sign of their presence when they go.
By extension, hotel owners and managers can overlook the role these workers play, too. Where the customer-facing jobs are exciting and dynamic, housekeeping teams are too often the hidden heroes kept behind the scenes.
Not only does this risk leaving housekeepers jaded and disengaged, it’s a major strategic oversight as well.
A clean hotel has never been more important.
When a housekeeper does their job well, guests feel safe and looked after — and that’s crucial in a sector fighting to recover from COVID-19. Signs of inferior cleaning, on the other hand, could inspire guests to post negative reviews online, leading bookings to plummet as a result.
So hotels are left with a challenge: if housekeeping teams work behind the scenes, then managers don’t always know where they are. When managers don’t know where they are, they can struggle to monitor their progress. When they can’t monitor their progress, there’s no way to track performance, deliver feedback, and ensure on-going quality and standards.
And a hotel with sub-standard cleaning won’t survive in 2020 and beyond.
Hotels might want to manage housekeeping staff with the same level of attention as they do with front-of-house staff. But they may have no idea how to actually do it.
Why? Because housekeeping staff are hard at work throughout the hotel. Shifts start at different times. Different tasks need to be completed. Teams can consist of hundreds of employees. And even a well-thought-out process will be useless if it doesn’t work when put into action.
A reliance on outdated workflows is part of the problem. In a time where office workers have countless apps for productivity, feedback, and team communication, hotel workers are left to go without.
A lot of hotels still rely on paper rosters to keep a day’s work organized. They might tell employees what area they have to be in and when. They might include the odd note or warning about the urgency of a specific task.
But paper records fail in one indisputable way: they can’t deliver a unified, verified record of what teams need to do.
Housekeeping teams are having to make do with messages written by hand, paper-based checklists, and either hoping to bump into someone in the corridor or wasting their time on a hotel-wide search.
This lack of connection puts all of the housekeepers, and the hotel itself, at a major disadvantage.
Picture the scene: a manager sends a housekeeper to work for the rest of the day, with nothing but a piece of paper for guidance. That piece of paper can be lost, damaged, or contain yesterday’s data instead (after all, Executive Housekeepers have to draw up paper checklists every day). There’s no capacity for instant communication. Questions can take hours to ask. Problems take an entire shift to solve. Updating the PMS is always an after-thought.
Real-time coordination helps teams work together. Manager to employee, employee to manager, and employee to employee — everyone can change their process for the better.
Today, deskless teams don’t work in concert — they work in silos. But when they realize they can work better together, they see how much more efficient and productive they can be.
And let’s remember just how important good motivation is. Research shows just 2 in 10 employees feel their performance is managed in a way that actually motivates them to strive for their best. That’s a huge problem: workers want to see how their role feeds into the company mission, they want to be recognized, and they want to do work they feel proud of.
They also want to solve their problems for themselves — or at least have the tools to-hand to do so. Confidence is key for troubleshooting; workers need to evaluate the situation and feel empowered to take the best course of action.
Sadly, there’s nothing motivational or empowering about a crumpled, dog-eared piece of paper. Especially if the directions scrawled across it are difficult to understand, or they need to constantly circle back to management for on-the-job advice. Added to that, the piece of paper is probably in the wrong language for the attendant.
Fortunately, technology makes this all so much simpler. By equipping your housekeeping team with better tools, you’ll show them how much the hotel values their input and can watch how they step up their game. Encouraging autonomy can boost motivation, and drive employees to perform better — helping you achieve whatever goals you’ve set out for the business as a whole.
Lua has taken the outdated paper checklist and given it a digital transformation. Now, housekeeping teams can receive, follow and deliver against their daily tasks following an app — for improved productivity, increased engagement, and commercial results.
Lua enables managers to access real-time data and provides each housekeeper with the guidance they need when they need it. A key part of this is the inclusion of shared checklists.
Constructing a simple checklist of tasks to be completed in each room cultivates a uniform standard of cleanliness, providing the hygienic environment guests expect. You’ll avoid oversights, mistakes, and wasted time.
Instant feedback empowers managers to increase efficiency, and issues can be reported as soon as they occur.
Use Lua to identify trends in housekeepers’ work and create steps to achieve better results. Put an end to problems and make the most of positives.
With Lua, you give workers a tool to track their own progress over time. You can recognize their hard work to boost engagement, motivation, and overall satisfaction (reducing costly churn).
Lua supports many languages, so you can deliver information to your team in their native tongue. Eliminate the risk of crossed wires and cultivate a stronger team bond.
Like any business, a hotel is only as good as the people who work there. And while we’re often tempted to focus on front-of-house staff, those working behind the scenes are just as essential for commercial success.
To better manage your housekeeping teams — and effectively deliver against your strategic vision — speak to a member of the Lua team today.