By Melissa Kouvelas, Director, Worldwide Sales, BWH Hotel Group
Over the past two years, the hospitality salesperson has had to manage changing roles and focus, increased workload and working hours, and uncertainty about their future. Many have reached a point of burnout. There is no time for professional development, and they are looking to other industries for motivation, more work-life balance, and clarity on future career growth. How do we address burnout and help hospitality salespeople find their passion again? The HSMAI Sales Advisory Board shared these three ideas on doing so.
1. Engage and reconnect in an honest way. Advisory board members are finding that being able to share challenges and reconnect with their teams in person have helped with reigniting the passion and camaraderie that was missing at the start of the pandemic.
“Some people can feel like they’re alone sometimes, so getting to know each other on a more personal level and talking about our shared challenges has had a very positive impact,” one advisory board member offered. “As leaders, we should know what’s happening and be plugged in with the team. Have open discussions where you’re not always talking about the pipeline or sales activity.”
Another advisory board member agreed. “For us, it’s communication and making sure we are open and vulnerable. That starts with leadership. By me being open and sharing some of the hurdles and challenges I’m facing or other leaders are facing, it allows my team to feel more comfortable reaching out.”
2. Get comfortable implementing boundaries. Work-life balance is critical in preventing burnout and in keeping hospitality professionals within the industry. As one advisory board member said, “We must keep in mind that our salespeople can go to other industries and have that work-life balance, and we have to be focused on coming up with solutions for our people to keep that balance in their lives.”
The group talked about three easily implementable ways to create boundaries that help team members have more balance and less pressure while at work:
- Refrain from sending emails outside of business hours. “We must think about whether we really need to send that email [at night or on the weekend] or if we could schedule it to send during proper working hours,” one member said. “My team mentioned that to me because I’m guilty of taking Sunday afternoon to get caught up on email, but it caused stress because they thought they had to respond immediately. So, I’ve had to change how I work.”
- Implement “Focus Fridays.” “No internal meetings on Fridays — some of our organizations are calling them ‘focus days’ where you get a day to just focus on work versus being in back-to-back meetings.” As one group member pointed out, it’s even better if leadership, such as the CEO, enforced the policy to increase cooperation at all levels.
Taking “Focus Fridays” to the next level, the group also discussed how some companies are taking that day off completely so employees can recharge.
- Survey your colleagues. “We do colleague engagement surveys every year,” one advisory board member said. “Listening to our salespeople and actually putting action to their feedback to come up with solutions and make the environment better goes a long way.”
3. Find the middle ground. When the pandemic started, many people found themselves reflecting upon their priorities and rethinking what their “new normal” looked like. Leaders need to be prepared to operate in this new normal and redefine what success means in this current environment.
“I think we flipped the switch from working from home for two years to now being on the road all month, and there has to be a middle ground there,” one advisory board member said. “People are excited about what they do. The people who have stayed have done so because they’re passionate and they’re committed. But, overall, we’ve kind of gone to extremes. So, I’m looking forward to bringing it back to the middle again.”
Another member expressed, “We’re doing things very differently — in a good way. The stuff we just tolerated back then, we’re not tolerating anymore and we’re going to move forward. Hopefully, all companies and leaders see this same opportunity, and my hope is that, as an industry and within our organizations, we can change those things we simply tolerated and make them better. That’s how you’ll keep your people happy.”