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11 Ideas for Hotel Employee Incentive Programs

Everyone loves free things and millennials are no exception. Studies show that millennials are willing to work incredibly hard for the companies that employ them, but they search for companies with perks - and not just higher salaries.



Millennials understand that wages - relative to their parent’s generation - have decreased whilst hours have increased. They want to enjoy work and they want a fair deal. From healthcare to flexible schedules to personal development and loan repayment plans, millennials want more from their jobs than past generations - and why not?

With the hotel industry often finding it difficult to retain employees, it’s now more important than ever to understand what employees want. Here are 10 ideas for hotel employee incentive programs that will help your workers be happier, more productive, and stay longer.

1. Offer Career And Personal Development

2. Allow Flexible Schedules

3. Employee Recognition

4. Attractive Retirement Plans

5. Mentoring Programs

6. Stop the Micro-Managing

7. Offer Health and Wellness Programs

8. Create a Family Atmosphere

9. Have Fun at Work

10. Come up with Low-Cost and No-Cost Perks

11. Free Start-up Kit, Including Slip-Resistant Shoes


1. Career and Personal Development

Most millennials - who make up almost a third of the workforce and growing - want jobs in which they can learn and grow, so they often want clear career progression. In your hotel, can a porter make it to the reception desk or to be a personal concierge?

Let employees know where they can go if they stay with the company for a certain amount of time. Ask them where they see themselves and help them get there. With a goal in mind, everyone can have clear expectations of what needs to happen - whether it’s training, taking on new tasks, and so forth - to keep everyone happy. Automation is taking over and everyone will need to learn new skills to keep up.

Everyone loves being challenged so set ways to challenge employees and praise them when they meet those challenges. You may have programmes in which people are rewarded for learning, such as completing courses, or reading books, or going above and beyond for guests.

Keeping your employees engaged will help them feel that their work matters and they will work harder for you.


2. Flexible Schedules

In a hotel environment, flexible schedules may be more difficult - as you cannot have people showing up within a window of time - but you can listen to your employee needs and create schedules that work around them where possible.

Are you employing a single mother who needs to take her son to school during certain hours? You can schedule her shift either overnight or during the hours her child is at school. Understand too that life happens. Don’t unduly punish and reprimand those who otherwise work hard for you.

35% of millennials value schedule flexibility over pay. People want more control over their daily life. If most people commute to work for the 9-5 then everyone’s stuck in traffic at the same time. You can create schedules that free up people’s commute time by staggering arrivals and departures, and that will allow people to make doctor’s appointments, go to the post office, visit friends and family members, go to the shops, and so much more.

More can be fit into their days instead of feeling that they’re on a repeat of work, eat, sleep, work, rinse and repeat.

In the hotel industry - within reason - you can talk to your staff and find out how far they commute and what their hours are. You may have an early finish one day so people can get tasks done, you can work around people who need to, say, let out their dog at lunch or check on their grandfather. Maybe two four hour shifts twice a week in the day with three hours in between might work better for someone if they, say, get a Thursday off each week to run errands.

Be human and help people work around their lives. In the long run, it’ll benefit your company because people won't want to leave what they see as a good, understanding, and flexible company. As long as shifts are covered, everyone will be happy. Consider even shortening hours.


3. Recognition

Employee recognition impacts workplace performance, according to psychological studies. When people feel appreciated (loved) then the body releases Oxytocin - the “love” hormone - and employees with Oxytocin levels have been shown as more trustworthy and better performers research shows.

Recognizing employees for a job well done will boost their trust, engagement, productivity, and retention. It can be as simple as a personal and private, “you did really well today handling that angry customer” or a public shoutout at meetings.

You can have a mix of monthly recognitions and thank yous or you can just do some daily affirmations. Create a positive culture in which other employees praise each other for a job well done. Overall, this type of positivity will be contagious and create a happy workplace in which people want to show up to work.


4. Retirement Plans

With the cost of living constantly on the rise, retirement plans are a good incentive for hotels. The contribution doesn’t have to be huge, but having something in place for people - even when they are young - helps.

Even for part time workers, having solid retirement plans is a huge incentive. If you have competitive contributions, you may see workers figuring out how to stay with your company for the next twenty or thirty years, which is where employee growth comes in as well.

What career will you offer for that employee in time? Maybe upper management? Maybe corporate? Have ideas in mind to keep people there for the long term, and it won’t be possible without a good retirement plan.


5. Mentoring

Along the lines of personal growth, employees like mentoring programs. When they first start at the hotel, it’s a good idea to assign each newbie a mentor who can help him or her learn the ropes and know what to do.

When that employee is experienced, they can take on their own mentee which will boost morale as well - they’ll feel trusted and feel that management thinks they are good at their job and can teach someone new a thing or two.

Mentors don’t have to be reserved for new employees too. If your employee decides he or she wants to become part of the kitchen staff and he or she works on reception, you can assign a kitchen-staff mentor and you can all figure out how you can help that employee move to a career within your hotel that will make him or her happy.


6. No Micro-Managing

Nothing will make employees run to the door faster than micro-managing. Micromanaging tells employees that you do not trust them to accomplish their job. Clearly define what each employee has to accomplish each day in catchup meetings and let them get on with it. Studies show that people who feel that they are being watched and monitored all the time perform at a lower level.

Micromanaging manifests itself in other ways too. It’s important that staff look neat and presentable, but is it appropriate to shout at someone because he forgot his tie for work? Not really. This behaviour will only breed resentment. Find another tie. Let everyone get on with their day.

If you treat employees like they are naughty children, your business will only suffer. Deal with important issues but don’t sweat the small stuff. Being supportive to your staff will only make them work harder for you. Let your employees know that they can come to you on issues - and mean it. A culture of trust will develop if you step away from over-management and micro-managing.


7. Health and Wellness Programs

Many who work full time find that they don’t have time to work out and be healthy, so offering a health and wellness program will create a culture of happiness. So, if many hotel staff are overworked and underpaid and have no time for exercise or healthy eating, be the hotel that changes that.

If your hotel has a health center and pool, let employees use it - for a small fee or for free - so they can stay fit. Some companies offer on-site yoga, others encourage zumba, and others just allow long lunches in which employees can work out.

Most busy people don’t have time for a healthy lunch and opt for a quick fast-food option, so offering healthy meals at affordable prices (or free) from the hotel kitchen can help keep everyone happy. It may be that the kitchen makes a series of healthy freezer or microwavable meals so it doesn’t interfere with the regular service, but - either way - keeping people healthy and fit will have benefits for the hotel overall.

You can also try extra curricular activities or exercise as a midday break to help motivate people and as a team building strategy. Allow those who work for you to feel they can work for you and maintain a healthy life.


8. Family Atmosphere

If people feel happy where they work, it makes everything run smoothly. If people feel unhappy, pressured, or bullied it can have long-term negative impact for everyone involved. Try and hire people who work well together to create a family atmosphere.

Allow employees to have a say in the company as well. Encourage discussion and openness. Don’t have a big brother culture where tattling is rewarded, but, instead, create a family culture in which people do not want to, say, steal from the company because it’s a good place to work.

People can be allowed to vote on incentives - where employees propose ideas to help improve the business - and coworkers review and vote on the concept. If an idea is implemented, the employee can receive, for example, a £20 “idea bounty” for coming up with a good strategy. You can create healthy competition by tracking how many ideas have been awarded to a single employee in a  period of time and award a prize for the most ideas in a year.

9. Fun

Just as work-life balance is important, some fun is important at work. No one wants to work at a super-serious, super-boring place.

You can encourage fun by allowing employees to have quick chats between customers or by having contests at work - behind the scenes. Allow teams or individuals to win rewards.

You can also come up with office games. Games can be done individually or as team-building activities in times when another team is running the hotel (training days). Games can be something like a scavenger hunt to baking competitions to trivia and more. Make your workplace somewhere where everyone likes coming to work.  

10. Low-Cost Perks

All perks do not have to cost the company much. There are ways to have low-to-no-cost incentives that make employees feel like VIPs. You may offer priority parking for the day (or week), a casual dress day, an extra day off work.

Employees also love gift cards - so you may offer a low-value gift card for a favourite restaurant; sometimes if you buy gift cards in bulk the company you buy them from can offer a percentage discount so it costs you lower than the face value.

Some companies have great success with simple measures such as giving out M&Ms.  Either way, be creative and come up with ways to reward those who work for you without hurting the hotel’s bottom line.


11. Free Slip-Resistant Footwear

An affordable perk may even be a free Shoes For Crews pair of shoes for every new-starter. This pair of shoes can come as standard along with their free staff uniforms because it shows that you invest in your employees; many people are unhappy to begin work at companies when they have to pay for multiple items up front. Paying for lots of upfront costs - from the employee perspective - basically, costs the worker more than it costs the company. No one wants to feel like they are paying to work. Show that you care for your employees' long-term well-being by providing a starter-kit that helps them feel welcome, and gives them the tools for a successful career with you.  


Housekeeping and Bar Staff










 Front of House Staff and Management











Incentive programs help show those who work for you that you are invested in them so they can invest in you. Incentives don’t have to cost the company thousands per year, but any form of recognition helps your hotel staff feel appreciated and valued.

And, in the long run, if employees stay with you longer because they like working for you, the cost of employee turnover will be much, much lower, saving you money over time.


Our shoes are a great idea to get hotel staff home safe: Take a look at our test results.

Our footwear is rigorously tested for slip-resistance to the highest European standards, and many of our popular styles are double (sometimes quadruple) the minimum ISO standard for slip-resistance; we are proud to share our results so download your free report now.


Tags: Life @ Work
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