Five Ways Digitalizing Team Member Communications is Benefitting Tribal Hotels Amidst the Labor Shortage

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The COVID-19 pandemic has proven how important communication has become for the hospitality industry. As business continues to improve at Tribal hotels and casinos, many operators are struggling to fill the necessary roles on property. In times like these, digital communication and collaboration tools have stepped up to become one of the most impactful ways for hotel operators to attract, train, empower and engage with their workforces, ultimately improving operations.

Here are five ways a team member communications app is helping Tribal organizations thrive in today’s new normal:

It Attracts Talent

To build a strong team during this recovery period, Tribal gaming and hospitality leaders should consider who the next generation of hospitality workers are. Unfortunately, many experienced frontline workers left hospitality and went to other industries over the last year, and they are not coming back. Younger, tech-savvy generations are now looking to enter the workforce, and businesses that embrace technology and digitalize their operations will be the ones that stand out in the hiring market. In a recent PWC study titled “Managing tomorrow’s people – the future of work 2020,” 59 percent of Millennials said that employer-provisioned, state-of-the-art technology was important to them when considering a job.

It’s important that gaming and hospitality organizations today leverage technology to improve both the guest and team member experience. Creating an environment where team members can see their most recent shift schedule at their convenience, and where team members are given a voice can be easily achieved using a platform like Beekeeper. These may seem like simple changes, but they are proven to improve the quality of your team members’ interactions and drive loyalty.

2. It Drives Efficiencies and Reduces Team Member Burnout

Operators of Tribal hotels and casinos today are under a lot of pressure. They are tasked with finding new talent and cutting costs while operating with staff far leaner than what they are used to. This not only adds to workplace stress for management, but the wearing of more hats and the working longer hours is causing team member burnout. Digitalizing the workplace and centralizing communications with a team member app makes it easier for management to engage everyone and keep all team members connected regardless of their shift or location with the push of a button. By using Beekeeper, managers and team members spend 15 percent less time on administrative tasks related to information gathering, sharing, and processing (e.g., making phone calls to fill shifts, filing reports). This time can be used on more value-added activities, like spending time on the floor with the guests.

“Most of our team members don’t sit in front of a computer; they’re busy serving guests,” said Rhonda Turner, Human Resources Director at the Feather Falls Casino. “While we have bulletin boards on the premises, we needed a more consistent and efficient way to reach the bulk of our team members in real time. It was an ineffective way to operate, and it left our team members feeling disconnected. We needed a fairer way to engage everyone, regardless of what shift they work. Beekeeper keeps everyone informed about everything, whether we’re posting pictures of new slot machines and posting discussions about new casino games that we are rolling out that week or detailing team member ticket giveaways and announcing team member events, awards or birthdays. It’s a fun, social way to get to know team members better, and it is making everyone feel part of the Feather Falls family.”

3. It Improves Training and Onboarding

Training and onboarding remains a concern in hospitality, as all available hands have been shifted to focus on operations first. Technology has been used to complement in-person training and onboarding, enabling new team members to learn at their own pace while their managers and peers can focus on operations. Beekeeper enables organizations to automate paperwork and training, thereby onboarding team members faster and getting people out on the floor quicker to serve guests and generate upsells and cross-sells, while simultaneously ensuring that every worker is receiving the same messaging at every step in the process. Operators will also be able to direct individuals or groups with videos, reminders or updates, and can track app usage to make sure that their messages are received.

4. It Allows Housekeeping to Do More with Less

Most hotels still rely on pen and paper to track the rooms cleaning process. Housekeeping team members spend a lot of time wandering around to see which rooms were stripped and ready to be cleaned, and which were cleaned and ready to be inspected. And as we all know, time is money. When this process is digitalized within Beekeeper, it instantly removes workflow inefficiencies, as the status of rooms is centralized, and housekeeping team members can access information specific to their task in real time.

The deployment of housekeeping workflows by Beekeeper means no more wandering around — translating to a 20 percent reduction in housekeeping labor inefficiency. If there are five housekeepers on duty for the afternoon, and one hour can be saved per person per shift, the hotel can accomplish the same tasks with one less housekeeper. In today’s tight labor market, being able to do more with less makes dollars and sense.

5. It Drives Engagement and Retention

Tribal organizations must also be vigilant in taking care of the valued team members they already have, as turnover is expensive and the talent crisis today makes it hard to find the replacements. Operators with the ability to directly communicate with new frontline workers from the first day of their employment can make them feel like a part of the team, and this goes a long way toward retaining workers. The Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, CA, uses Beekeeper’s digital app to shout out a “Superstar” of the week.

“It’s very important to keep team members motivated and happy during such a stressful time,” said Sarah Sorbel, Human Resources Manager at the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa. “Beekeeper not only serves as our internal communications hub, but our people are having fun with the technology and constantly finding new ways to stream content. During Halloween, for example, we held a Pumpkin Carving Contest and team members voted for their favorite design on the mobile app.”

With the talent crisis compounding and team members potentially burning out, there is no time like the present to implement a team member communication and collaboration platform. Not only will this help teams that are stretched too thin operate in a more sustainable manner, but it will also motivate team members who want to be engaged. When they receive clear job instructions, are empowered to do their job well, and get recognized for their efforts, they will be more driven to do a good job for management and guests. In the end, this will boost loyalty, increase retention, and help get the Tribal gaming and hospitality industries back on track more quickly.

About the Author

Andrada Paraschiv is the head of Hospitality for Beekeeper, a mobile-first communication platform built for frontline team members that reaches every shift, location and language through real-time messaging, targeted streams, and automated workflows.