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The power of Appreciation

Making your staff feel appreciated is one of the most important ingredients for operational success, so why do so many operators still fail in this area and what can you do to meet and exceed your employee’s expectations?

As another week of lockdown begins, I’m feeling immensely proud of the NHS and of all key workers here in the UK, and around the globe, for the tremendous work they’re doing to keep us all safe, healthy and supplied with our essential needs. The now “weekly clap for key workers” sends out a massive message of appreciation as does the contribution made by other amazing human beings such as the 99-year-old veteran who raised over twenty-five million pounds for the NHS, and the truck driver who sent flowers to a complete stranger just because they showed him gratitude for a job well done. The human spirit is truly amazing and in tough times something as small as a simple “thank you” can, and will, go a long way towards steering us in the direction of a brighter future even with a real money casino.

In the Casino business I’ve been on the receiving end of both extremes of the appreciation scale and sometime not even on it at all, so with such a roller coaster ride of highs and lows, some might say that those showing appreciation on the low end of the scale should seriously reconsider their approach towards motivation. Before we can make a valid effort to provide employees with the appreciation that they instinctively search for, let’s first look at what your operation might look like if all you had was employees with zero motivation:

  • The message of your brand will be become like a one-thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle that only the most die-hard customers will take time to try and understand
  • Your guest experience will become anemic
  • Your visitor rates will slow
  • Nobody will be talking about you, or buying your products
  • Sales targets will be missed
  • Morale and culture will disintegrate
  • Your management and staff will jump ship at the throw of your over-used dice

Why do people leave? They leave when your company fails to offer them anything of value. They leave because your customer service is lethargic and no longer meets their expectations. The leave because your competition helped them solve their problems by delivering a simple, focused and personalized message that your operation appears to have made extinct around the same time as the dinosaurs.

Our primal needs are all the same and include the needs to survive, feel secure and belong to a group of people that we can relate to whether it be a casino player’s club, a rock n’ roll band or a group of weekend motor car enthusiasts. We also share greater psychological, physiological and spiritual needs that give us a higher sense of meaning. If what your company is offering doesn’t supply your customers and your staff with the minimal motivation they require to satisfy these basic needs, then you might consider a change in strategy and start by saying a simple “good morning” to your staff and use that as bench mark for improvement.

Great companies know the importance of staff appreciation and invest large sums of money and time towards ensuring that their most valuable assets (the staff!) are appreciated, motivated, engaged and empowered to meet and exceed expectations on a consistent basis. Another simple way that successful companies look at the value of staff appreciation is that if they don’t make the staff feel appreciated and motivated then how are they going to make sure their guests feel the same way? Appreciation and respect are an important part of staff retention and great companies retain their best staff by implementing and integrating some, or all of the following best practices into their daily modus operandi.

Clarify the message of your brand – The message of your brand should always be aimed toward attracting, retaining and maximizing the value that your operation generates for your customer. The message has to be something that the staff can relate to on the same level as your customers and once your staff understand and buy into why your customer play’s inside your casino, then they will be better prepared to deliver above and beyond expectations.

The importance of trust – What you do has a far greater impact than what you say, and trust has a huge impact on your staff and how they perceive the place where they “choose” to work. A great leader knows the importance of trust and will apply the behaviors of trust on a daily basis. These behaviors include showing respect, creating transparency, clarifying expectations, practicing accountability, delivering results and keeping commitments. Without trust, your staff won’t perform to your company or customer expectations. Without trust there can be no appreciation and without trust your best staff and customers won’t be part of your brand for much longer.

Communication – Is a great motivator and an even better opportunity for showing your staff appreciation. When I refer to communication, I’m not talking about a monthly email sent out by senior management that is limited to details about financial performance and put’s the readers to sleep after the first sentence. I’m talking about the type of daily two-way communication that is used to proactively improve operations and empower your staff by engaging them and using their feedback to change the way you revamp productivity, raise staff satisfaction levels and increase customer acquisition and retention rates. The most successful companies use daily briefings, quality circle meetings, regular staff evaluations and one-on-one sessions to make communications more effective and as a frequent way of showing appreciation to their most valuable assets.

Recognition and Mentoring –A simple “good morning” in the corridor or a well deserved “thank you” during your daily briefing will go along way to keeping your staff happy, motivated and appreciated. Recognition increases employee morale and also encourages repeat behaviors, so it’s easy to see why it’s a win, win situation. A lot of companies successfully use extrinsic forms of recognition such as employee of the month, quarter and year as a form of appreciation and frequently combine them with regular evaluations and one-on-one sessions to gain insight into what motivates each employee as an individual. Other extrinsic forms of recognition range from pay rises and free bus passes to free childcare and onsite gyms.  A more intrinsic approach to recognition might be empowering your employees to use their skills and experience to meet company goals with minimal supervision, which will give employees a higher sense of purpose and accomplishment. Mentoring is also a very rewarding form of appreciation as leaders get a chance to share their knowledge and experience to help others improve, grow and succeed. Mentoring works both ways and a great leader will take full advantage to learn from those they are teaching. This learning and development relationship is an excellent form of team building and can create stronger bonds and increase staff retention levels. Mentoring also provides employers with an opportunity to promote from within and create a culture of leadership which will attract the best talent and the best customers.

Philanthropy – Giving back to society and helping those in need makes the job bigger than just a paycheck and it’s a great form of appreciation that brings management and employees together on the same level for the same purpose. It’s one of the highest forms of appreciation and one that will bring out the best in us all.

Conclusion - It’s never to late to show appreciation and it’s never to late to change the way you do business and make appreciation an integral part of your business improvement strategy. Great leaders and successful businesses know the power of a united and motivated team and to forget it’s message will result in great humiliation as working without purpose is like living life without joy and how long do you expect your business to survive without that?

MY MINI-BLOG - Andrew Cosgrove is a seasoned slot operations veteran and certified project manager with over 24 years of hands on experience in Latin America and the Caribbean. Andrew has worked on both the operator and supplier side of casino slots and continues to help clients succeed and exceed customer expectations.  Andrew can be reached at andy.cosgrove@hemingwaycasinoconsulting.com or see http://hemingwaycasinoconsulting.com/