Team engagement vital as hospitality returns-and it’s about more than money

Hospitality businesses will need to reassure, motivate and value their staff when they return if they are to optimise both guest experience and retention.

CGA’s 2021 Business Leaders’ Survey with Fourth and Hospitality Professionals panel with CPL Learning provide two different perspectives on the issue of employee engagement—but both emphasise its critical importance to success. All business leaders rate it as a key focus (77%) or moderate focus (23%), but only 37% think their current employee engagement is very good—sharply down from 62% in the third quarter of 2020.


Employees are equally divided, rating their engagement with work, on a scale of 1 to 5, at a modest average of 3.5. While the Hospitality Professionals research shows that many staff are confident and excited about returning to work, some businesses, by their own admission, could do more to support their teams—by promoting their wellbeing, communicating regularly and providing training and professional development resources, for example.


This is important, because the Hospitality Professionals research proves that good employee engagement is tightly tied to retention. Three quarters (76%) of professionals feeling highly engaged with their work plan to stay in the sector for at least five years—nearly 20 percentage points higher than the all-staff average (57%).


Although staff availability is currently high in the wake of widespread job losses, retention could be an increasingly important issue. Three quarters (77%) of business leaders expect to recruit in 2021, and there are concerns that Brexit and restricted travel could hit the availability of overseas workers, on whom many hospitality employers rely. More than a third (37%) of leaders say they are unconfident or unsure about post-Brexit recruitment, training and retention.


Management teams recognise that good engagement is about much more than pay. The numbers of business leaders citing company values (72%), internal communications (62%), learning and development (45%) and career pathways (43%) as important areas of engagement are all higher than those citing pay (34%).


Priorities on the other side of the boardroom-frontline divide are similar. The Hospitality Professionals panel rate feeling valued and respected (43%), supportive teams (31%), feeling motivated (29%) and opportunities to develop careers (28%) as the most important aspects of work engagement—again, well clear of pay.

Our research consistently shows the close links between good employee engagement and key metrics of success like guest satisfaction and retention,” says Chloe Sheerin, CGA consumer research executive.

“Pay is only one ingredient of engagement: clear and ethical values, good communications, professional training, a supportive infrastructure and the chance to progress careers can all do as much if not more to motivate teams. For relatively modest investments here, employers can significantly reduce staff churn and get an important competitive advantage.”

CPL Learning are offering learning resources and content to support employers in engaging teams. The Aspire channel is a platform for motivational and inspiring content for teams and a community sharing stories of hospitality success. The most recent series to be launched interviews hospitality professionals and showcases the diverse career opportunities in hospitality, find out more on Aspire.


For more information about the Business Leaders’ Survey from CGA and Fourth, including bespoke analysis to help suppliers and operators optimise strategies, email


For more about the Hospitality Professionals panel and its insights into people’s experiences at work, email


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