What really motivates hospitality employees to use your new LMS for internal training?

Take a quick scroll through pretty much any social media platform, and there it is, in all its curvy, white-fonted glory. Behold! The motivational quote. Whether it comes from Confucius or Marilyn Monroe; Michael Jordan or Tesla, they’re usually relentlessly positive or spectacularly vague. And are you really motivated? Do you read them and vow to live, laugh and love at 3 pm on a rainy Wednesday afternoon? Or do you roll your eyes, question whether Ralph Waldo Emerson really said that and move on to the next post, invariably of someone’s chilli-flecked poached egg as photographed from above. We’re here to talk about motivating staff around elearning for hospitality training!

So, what does really motivate us to make changes? Especially when it comes to engaging with online platforms; and particularly when it comes to work-related topics?

It almost goes without saying that motivation and productivity go hand-in-hand when it comes to achieving goals in business, and these two things are particularly relevant when you’re in the hospitality industry. As a service-based business, our skills and the skills of our staff need to be constantly evolving to respond to the expectations of our guests – and it’s a real proven thing that elearning software elevates service. But what really motivates employees when it comes to really connecting with their hospitality training? Especially online? It’s not the spectre of Hawaiian beaches in turbo orange, pink or turquoise for sure, and the wisdom of Thoreau probably isn’t going to help much either. Actually, connection and engagement happens through a number of much more achievable things in combination.

Motivation, generally, largely hinges on perceived reward and ease of access. When it comes to online learning, there are some more things to add to the mix but let’s break these two factors down a little bit first. Then we’ll get into what you can do to maximise the benefits from elearning software when it comes to your team’s performance.

First up, you know your employees are busy; some of them might even be overburdened and stressed. Positing hospitality elearning courses, or elearning software as an access point for techniques to manage situations they encounter on their shifts every day is an important slant to get right. It’s not extra homework – help your team see it more like a tool shop. Think of it this way: a maintenance worker wouldn’t go to work without their drill or hammer, and a front desk manager can’t get through the day unless they have a process to understand and solve a customer complaint or query. So, if your people understand it might make their work day smoother, a confrontation or situation easier, their motivation to use elearning LMS might be higher. In a nutshell – it’s going to benefit them. If you can additionally demonstrate that online training courses can take as little as five minutes or that many elearning courses are designed like games – not tests or surveys – you’re going to have a much more enthusiastic uptake. Everyone hates extra work, and nobody hates it more than busy people. Your workforce is made up of a range of staff with different strengths, weaknesses and personalities, right? So personalise it, and gameify it. Some hospitality staff might engage much better with video content, and prefer information delivered by a speaker. Others might enjoy an elearning course delivered with music and graphics with choices to select. There’s a world of online hospitality training out there, and by tailoring their experience you’ll find that the retention of new job-related ideas or skills can be significantly higher. Essentially what we’re say here is try to see your employee’s training experience as something that needs to work with their character, and allow them enough time in the workday to engage with it.

It’s also worth mentioning here that if you present online courses in bite-size chunks, your staff are going to be more likely to engage. Mini courses, or longer elearning courses broken up into ‘lessons’ which can be completed in five or ten minute stretches are key when it comes to training your hospitality employees. You want to keep them motivated, and to do this, you have to be realistic. Few staff members are going to have an hour in a working day to spare if your business is thriving – but please, please don’t make them give up their lunch breaks to do their training as they’ll immediately resent it. You’d be surprised how many employers do this, and it’s perhaps the number one way to get your people to hate online learning! Instead, allow and encourage ten minute online training stints as part of their working day. This additionally means your people won’t be overloaded with too many new ideas all at once to absorb and incorporate into their jobs. Successful online learning means translation into the real world as well as course completion, and it follows that a regular ‘drip-feed’ of hospitality skills are more likely to be utilised in the workplace. A structured, do-able course delivered slowly is the way to go for long-lasting improvements. Too much information can be confusing – and it can be hard for individuals to perceive how a multitude of new skills can be applied day-to-day if the topics are too numerous or too diverse. You may want to take a look at the sort of tasks various team members do throughout their week – and then offer mini-lessons to them that relate to their tasks for each day. This has the benefit of keeping staff motivated to interact with their online hospitality training, and gives them immediate solutions to their daily work challenges without overwhelming them.

So, let’s take a run up to the next thing. Technology hurdles. You’ll be aware the younger members of your team might have been born with an iPhone in their hand, (and online training via mobile is actually a really great way to learn on the go) but perhaps your more senior members of staff aren’t so comfortable with tech. It’s quite common to find that the online training platform itself is an obstacle. Your employee might be really keen to learn a new skill or refine an existing one, but they might perceive elearning as a thing to learn in its own right. Tech-panic is real, and the response of many is to just try and avoid the whole thing. There are a couple of ways to support your employees here. Maybe test out online hospitality training courses on your older friends or relatives at home. Where they get stuck is possibly where your valued older team member might founder. Make sure you spend the time to navigate and even over-explain online training courses with your staff. Or you could try having your staff complete their hospitality training together in small teams or pairs. You could potentially pair a tech-savvy employee with someone who is less confident with technology to go through courses together for instance. This might have the result of an older employee with more workplace experience assisting a less experienced person, and the younger employee might help the other build online skills. Or, you could divide introductions to an elearning system roughly by age group, showing the twenty-somethings how to get started one day, and an older age group separately. Allocate a little more time to the latter. Show, don’t tell.

And then, don’t leave them adrift.
One of the main benefits of online training is that it’s flexible, fitting right into a hospitality employee’s busy schedule. And that’s also its downside, creating what is known as ‘lonely learners’. Your staff might kick off their learning journey with enthusiasm, but then lose steam without support or structure. Here’s a couple of ways you can keep motivation high. Firstly, leaderboards are a good way to encourage everyone to engage with their hospitality training at the same time – especially if your team is geographically scattered as this can help them think of each other as a whole unit. Individual goal-trackers can also work really well if you don’t think leaderboards would suit some of your people. Secondly, many hospitality training programs allow you to personalise the online training experience. By incorporating hobbies or work areas your staff member really cares about, you might help keep them motivated to engage with their hospitality elearning. A combination of both of these things has the potential to engage both the introvert and the extrovert in your team, and hopefully gives them all a shared experience in the workplace.

Let’s say that you’ve taken all the above points into account. You’ve shown your staff that online learning is going to help them in their work. You’ve tailored the courses and broken them up into manageable, relevant bite-size pieces for various personalities. Your staff aren’t overwhelmed by the quantity and frequency of their elearning, and you’ve found ways to help technophobes engage while keeping everyone else motivated. Well done! However, there’s one more thing to consider, and it’s to do with the bigger picture, which is where you and your management team need to put your heads together. To get the most out of online training, you want to consider where you’d like it to get you. Do you need to improve response times for customers? Are you looking to open another branch nearby and have staff able to work in both locations? These are just a couple of examples, so perhaps before you even start introducing your hospitality training it might be a good idea for you to draw up a list of end goals. Once you have this in hand, you’re going to need to ensure your managers or facilitators who’ll be introducing elearning to the rest of your staff are supremely comfortable with it and fully understand the long-term goals it’s going to help your company achieve. There’s nothing worse than having hospitality training introduced and seeing that your supervisor isn’t quite sure how it works, or what it’s really all for. To motivate the bulk of folks who work for you, they need to see that it’s not just the ‘big boss’ who’s vaguely heard it might be a good thing, but their immediate manager, and the manager above them needs to be training online too, and can properly explain where it’s going to help everyone and what the long-term plan is. Don’t exclude yourself either! You might be the company owner but it’s impossible that you wouldn’t benefit from following elearning courses too. Your courses will be different, but you can’t expect your teams to do their training if you have no engagement with online learning. Build a culture of learning, let your staff know you’re training alongside them and if you can, speak to them about how it’s helping you.

Lastly, let’s wrap up with a surprise. Getting your hotel, restaurant or concierge employees to engage with online hospitality training – and stay engaged – needs a little creativity from you sometimes. A fresh approach can really reenergise your team, and so taking key lessons from learning courses and demonstrating their value in the real workplace in a fun way can work wonders when it comes to engagement, continued motivation, and productivity. Think outside the box. Take a look at what your team have achieved collectively during their online hospitality training. Talk to them about the changes and results, and offer them what we’re all looking for at the end of the day; encouragement, appreciation, and reward. Hospitality staff training schemes might happen online, but the translation into the real world really, really resonates for management, for employees and customers alike.