How vs Why and Personal Connections

Have you ever wondered why employee engagement is important?


The Ritz-Carlton is known for its outstanding service and incredible employee engagement. Listen to Diana Oreck, Vice President of the Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center tell a story of an employee going above and beyond for a guest and why employee engagement is so important in today’s workplace. If you’ve ever pondered why employee engagement is important and decided it’s because they’ll be easier for managers to deal with, you’re not thinking hard enough.

Once you’re properly motivating employees by focusing on the “why” of their job, you get the big payoff from genuine employee engagement. Oreck has one of the best employee engagement examples we’ve hard in a long time:

A leadership point that I think is critical for any company is we're spending way too much time talking about the how of work, the checklist. We need to talk about the why of work. Let me give you an example.

The backbone of the hotel business are the housekeepers. Depending on what brand you're in, on average, they're cleaning 14 to 16 bedrooms and bathrooms in a day. Contrary to popular belief in the hotel business, we don't spend most of our time guzzling champagne and eating bonbons with the stars. It's very backbreaking work. Without housekeepers we have to shut the hotel company down. They're critical to the operation. We don't motivate them by saying, "Oh, Susie, you've got to put your hand in the toilet 16 times today." That's their function. We are concentrating on their purpose. Service is all about making personal connections.

Little Samantha is five, and she's at our gorgeous Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, in Florida. She's there with her parents on holiday. She's been swimming around in the pool on the ocean for four days. She's made great friends with Michael, the lifeguard. So on day four Samantha swims up to Michael and says, "You know, Michael, I'm really worried." Luckily Michael played along, but he's thinking, "What could she be worried about? Five year-old in this gorgeous resort swimming in the sunshine?" But he played along, and he said, "Samantha, why are you so worried?"

She said, "Well, listen. Last night I lost my tooth, and the problem is I'm here, I'm not at home. How's the tooth fairy gonna find me to give me my money?"

He was thinking. He had his radar on, antenna up. And he said, "Don't worry about it, Samantha. The tooth fairy has a GPS, and he's going to find you."

With that, he gets one of our ladies, a colleague, who dresses up as the tooth fairy and stands in the lobby because they know that the parents are taking Samantha to lunch. After lunch Samantha sees the tooth fairy, runs over to her, grabs her knees, and also grabs her basket full of money and Ritz-Carlton swag. Do you think we've created a customer for life? You better believe it.

If you have a satisfied customer, you've only met the expectation. If you have an engaged one, they are going to give you fantastic word-of-mouth. And there's only one step between a satisfied and an engaged guest, and that's the heart.


Diana Oreck

Ms. Diana Oreck is a Certified Hospitality Trainer (CHT) and an international advisor in corporate culture, branding, leadership, employee engagement and legendary service. She has over 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry ...

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