Conducting Effective Employee Performance Reviews in the Hospitality Industry

Annual or even biannual employee performance reviews are essential to maintaining or increasing your business’s retention rate. Some hospitality employers succeed in retaining employees through such reviews in lieu of raises or other perks. The little-known truth is that consistent and honest reviews of workplace performance are a meaningful expression of gratitude that show employee contributions are valued. 

Even if the employee review constitutes a couple paragraphs including a few suggestions for improvement, it is mutually beneficial to both employer and employee. A performance review is an essential form of validation, attention and respect. In short, employee performance reviews make it clear that employers care about their hardworking contributors.

Hospitality employee performance reviews are different from employee reviews in other industries and niches. Hospitality employees are subjected to unique stressors including dealing with demanding customers, serving in the highly visible public arena and suppressing emotion to present a professional demeanor before guests at all times. This is why managers and operators within the industry should take special care in preparing for this vital process.

How Managers Can Prepare for Performance Reviews

Hospitality industry managers can do their part to prepare for productive performance reviews by planning those evaluations well ahead of time. The employee performance review preparation work is just as important as the actual review and follow-up in the months ahead. Managers should develop a system for gathering data along with employee feedback, establish transparent expectations for employee performance and adhere to the promised review schedule moving forward. 

Above all, clarity matters most. The evaluation system for employee performance should not be secretive or overly complex, and serve as just a part of a greater employee communication strategy.

Take full advantage of Harri’s communications, feedback and announcements capabilities for engaging a team at regular intervals and conducting employee reviews will be that much easier and productive. Our full suite of features includes all sorts of helpful capabilities including:

  • The sending of alerts including timely push alerts
  • Collecting feedback from employees
  • Uploading of media
  • Communication through messages and surveys
  • And much more

The nuances of your employee performance reviews should be specific to the hospitality industry. While online templates are a great start, choose to develop your own performance reviews tailored to the hospitality industry and your specific niche. 

Align the evaluation with the business’s aims to provide contributors with a better sense of how their performance is advancing. This way, employees will have the information they need to move forward in a constructive manner. 

In summary, your employee performance appraisal system should be distinct to your organization’s idiosyncratic needs and goals. However, there are overarching thematic components of all hospitality industry employee reviews including identification of employee flaws and strengths, gauging ongoing success (or lack thereof) and managing employees for mutual benefit.

Conducting Employee Performance Reviews: Tips and Best Practices

Employee reviews have the potential to be dramatic or even become more personal than professional. Recognize the potentially combustive nature of such annual or biannual events and move forward with tact and cordiality. The bottom line is some employees are highly sensitive and temperamental. Instead of listing one complaint after another, deliver the review through constructive criticism that provides employees with the chance to build on their underperformance. 

The subtleties of the context of performance review are of great importance. Conducting an employee review first thing on Monday morning immediately after a holiday break is not prudent. Schedule employee reviews for Thursdays or Fridays in between major holidays and scheduled vacations. Reviews should occur toward the end of the workday so the discussion and written evaluation do not hinder employee performance throughout the remainder of the day. 

The most effective employee performance reviews are a dialogue as opposed to a domineering monologue. Though you, the business owner or manager, will provide the vast majority of the feedback during the review, there is room for rebuttals and discourse. Give employees a chance to respond to criticism, and provide feedback of their own. 

It also makes sense for the employee to conduct a self-review. Ideally, employees will be provided with the opportunity to perform a written self-evaluation prior to the formal performance review, setting the stage for a comparison of those two analyses. Give the employee some time to read through your written evaluation and self-reflect. Proceed to contrast employee and employer responses for mutual benefit.

The moral of the story is the best hospitality industry employee performance reviews are characterized by reciprocity. Employers should be willing to give feedback and also accept suggestions from employees. Empower your contributors to reciprocate the performance review with comments/suggestions of their own and you are likely to find they provide helpful and meaningful feedback. 

Employee Performance Reviews in Hospitality: What to (and not to) Include

Performance reviews are one part verbal, one part written. Engage in a dialogue with the employee, take notes and encourage  them to do the same. The review should be formalized with a written report that adheres to the language within the company’s employee manual. When in doubt, consult with an employment law attorney to ensure the idiosyncrasies of your written employee performance reviews are in full accordance with employment law as well as your company’s written policies.

Hospitality industry employee reviews primarily center on the quality of service. Document all customer complaints, compliments and other feedback pertaining to the employee and consolidate them for the written review. 

The most critical components of the hospitality employment review process include:

  • Performance in the context of customer service
  • Employee timeliness
  • Attention to detail
  • Cooperation with coworkers

If the performance review includes negative feedback, don’t primarily focus on the underperformance. Every employee needs goals to strive toward. Engage in a productive discourse during the performance review that sets the stage for the setting of realistic employment goals. Prioritize clear communication in the context of goal-setting, conduct follow-up analyses of progress toward those goals and move forward accordingly.

Action plans are an integral component of employee performance reviews. Establish clear aims for employee improvement through formal documentation. Continue to document your feedback to employees as time progresses. Documenting responses to employee progression or regression is also essential for preventing a successful wrongful termination lawsuit in the unfortunate event that the employee fails to meet established goals and his or her employment is terminated.

Above all, it is in your legal interest as well as the employee’s interest to clearly communicate when performance reviews will occur. Though some employers opt for quarterly employment performance reviews, most elect to schedule them at specific times, be it twice per year or once per year. Communicate the date of the upcoming employee reviews in writing, keep at least one copy of those communications for your records and your case for potential employee termination will be supported by strong legal footing.

Recognize that every employee has positives and negatives. Even if the employee up for review has underperformed, it is a mistake to completely dwell on the negative. The vast majority of such reviews are more than mere formalities used for legal purposes. Highlight both the good and the bad of the employee’s performance for optimal balance. 

If the review consists of more than one or two criticisms, justify those criticisms with specific examples. Plus, don’t forget to do the same with any compliments or above-and-beyond performance moments. This is your opportunity to weave the following into the discussion and written performance review:

  • Customer complaints or compliments
  • Coworker complaints or compliments
  • “Above and beyond” moments
  • Tardiness
  • Violations of rules listed in the employee handbook
  • Additional justification for highlighting the employee’s underperformance

The best criticism is constructive. Constructive criticism provides employees with the information and tools they need to improve performance and meet employer standards. Provide such support, be it in the form of continued training, learning under the tutelage of a more experienced employee or another form of assistance.

Effective Communication and Reviews for Your Hospitality Team with Harri

The time has come for you to level with your team about their merits and shortcomings in the workplace. Recognize that hospitality employee performance reviews are unique and develop a detailed plan for analysis accordingly. Whether the review is positive or negative overall, what matters most is that the employee knows where he or she stands in the context of performance and company expectations. 

Even brief and subtle feedback pertaining to the idiosyncrasies of employee interactions with customers and coworkers has the potential to make a monumental impact on the quality of workplace relationships moving forward. 

In the end, relationships are central to hospitality industry employment and customer service. Focus on how employees can improve their interpersonal skills, continue to provide productive feedback and they’ll be motivated to make mutually beneficial strides.

Harri is here to help your hospitality business and your employees thrive. We provide an industry-best employee experience platform designed for those working on the frontlines of hotels, restaurants and other hospitality-oriented businesses. Whether you seek to improve employee engagement, evaluations, onboarding, applicant tracking or scheduling, our platform will help you overcome those hurdles with efficiency. 

We serve more than 20,000 hospitality businesses that employ more than four million people across the globe. Reach out to us today to request a demo of our next-generation employee experience platform for service-oriented businesses.

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