Operations | 8 min read

Retaining Top Talent in the Hospitality Industry: Proven Strategies for Hotel Staff Engagement and Retention

Hospitality Retention

Retaining talented and motivated staff is crucial for hotels in the competitive hospitality industry, where success depends on the guest experience. Retention is becoming an increasing problem for thousands in the hospitality industry, and a fix (or fixes!) needs to be made.

Engaged and motivated employees not only provide better service but also contribute to a positive work environment and higher guest satisfaction. Unfortunately, a high turnover rate can undermine these efforts and erode the quality of service. In this blog post, we will explore effective strategies that hotels can implement to keep their staff happy and productive, ultimately improving employee retention rates.

Understanding the Challenges for Employee Retention in the Hospitality Industry

Unfortunately, the hospitality industry has consistently high employee turnover rates — in the last quarter of 2023, there was a turnover rate of 5.5% (seasonally adjusted). As a visit to any hotel review platform can confirm, the success of a hotel is often measured by the quality of the guest experience, which largely depends on the performance of the employees. Consequently. managers are under pressure to hang on to their best staff. Here’s what they’re up against:

Demanding Work

Long work hours, physically and mentally demanding shifts, and labor-intensive tasks make hospitality work challenging and can contribute to employee burnout. For instance, a typical shift for a line cook in a hotel is 10 hours, and housekeepers can be expected to clean 16 rooms in an eight-hour shift. 

Hospitality industry jobs often involve ensuring demanding guests’ expectations are met, which can be stressful and result in low job satisfaction. Burned out employees are more likely to move on to what they hope will be easier work, and job-hopping is prevalent. 

Fierce Competition

Competition in the hospitality industry is constant and intense, requiring more commitment and skills from the staff to outshine other hotels. Hot tourist destinations usually have several hotels competing for the same markets and offering similar services. 

That’s why looking for competitive differentials may mean retaining or losing market share. Hiring multilingual staff with specialized skills, including chiefs, managers, and front-line staff, elevates the quality of service and may set the hotel apart from the competition. However, finding and retaining top-quality staff requires offering attractive working conditions and benefits. 


Fluctuations in demand require managers to expand and downsize the workforce accordingly. When demand is low, managers often reduce workers’ hours, which drives employees to look for steady work somewhere else. During the high season, those employees are likely in another job and won’t return to the hotel. 

High-quality employees often won’t commit to seasonal work, as they prefer a steady career with development opportunities. Therefore, the pool of interested candidates for the high season tends to be less skilled than when hotels are looking for year-round staff. 

Lastly, when hotels need to fill up jobs quickly during peak seasons, it requires more resources from HR teams. The time spent on promoting, recruiting, hiring, and training increases HR costs. 

Building a Positive Work Culture: Fostering Engagement and Motivation 

Many organizations still rely on one-way communication, which may prevent employees from feeling like part of a team. A positive workplace culture that includes employees in the conversation benefits employees and the organization alike. It creates connectedness and a loop of positive feedback, increasing the perception of value and commitment. 

There are two main benefits of creating a positive work culture with a sustainable communication strategy: 

  1. Increased loyalty: Employees who feel valued are more likely to stay loyal to the company. 
  2. Open communication encourages feedback: Employees who feel comfortable sharing their ideas tend to stay more invested in the success of the company. 

What to do: 

  • Create an open environment:  This gives employees opportunities to present ideas and suggestions to management and team members. 
  • Promote regular team meetings: Weekly catch-up meetings can be extremely useful for detecting any issues troubling the team and for improving communication between team members and management. 
  • Schedule one-on-one feedback sessions: Besides group meetings, an open-door policy and private meetings can increase employee engagement. 
  • Celebrate achievements: Feeling undervalued can severely harm how an employee feels about the job. 

Image source. Statistics: 2023 Report Axios HQ.

Providing Growth Opportunities: Career Development and Training Programs

The main reason employees leave is that they feel no chance of career advancement. Empower your staff with continuous training to enhance their skills, map out a career advancement plan, and allow them to demonstrate their commitment to their professional advancement. 

What to do:

  • Establish training programs for different departments and tasks. Be sure the training delineates all goals and objectives. 
  • Tailor the program to your staff’s needs: Ensure all programs focus on a mix of technical and soft skills. 
  • Prioritize learning customer satisfaction: Remember to include units on guest experience, regardless of the task. Customer-oriented companies often have a higher level of service. 

A Key to Retention: Recognizing and Rewarding Employee Contributions

Employees recognized for their achievements are more likely to feel satisfied and stay with the company. A study by Deloitte found that lack of recognition is the main reason professionals leave their jobs.  

What to do:

  • Create an employee recognition program: Invest in a robust employee recognition program that consistently acknowledges outstanding performance and dedication.
  • Rewards should be applicable across the organization: Employees in all departments — salaried, hourly, and contingent — should be offered recognition for their achievements. 
  • Recognition should be clear and transparent. Examples include performance bonuses, employee of the month, or employee of the season. 

Provide Flexible Scheduling and Work-Life Balance

The nature of the hotel industry usually means irregular working hours (like those 4:00 a.m. shifts) and odd schedules. These days, more employees are focused on maintaining a healthy work-life balance, so they need to know their schedules in advance and often benefit from the ability to simplify shift swaps and changes. 

Nowsta excels at providing much-needed flexibility for hotel workers — whether they are salaried or flex workers — with an automated and simplified scheduling system. Nowsta’s platform is the only solution that helps you source, hire, and manage both direct and temporary workers in one complete solution. 

Nowsta helps hotels lower their recruiting costs and hire high-quality employees quickly to fill staff demand. Innovative key features include automated staffing and time tracking, a marketplace of on-demand talent, and a centralized dashboard for management, reporting, and invoicing. 

Retaining Top Talent Is a Strategic Imperative

Prioritizing a positive work environment, investing in training, and rewarding achievements are some of the strategies you can apply to increase employee retention in the hospitality industry. Even better, using Nowsta can take your employee satisfaction and retention to the next level. Automated scheduling, easy communication of changes and swaps, and management of flex and permanent staff are some of the features that can turn your employees into loyal advocates. Learn more about how Nowsta increases top talent retention by requesting your demo today.