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Engaged Team Members at Casino - Deb Hilgeman, Ph.D.

Changes in team member engagement trends help create a happier and more profitable workplace

Three years ago, I wrote an article about team member engagement and how it is becoming increasingly popular. This article will look at current trends to help you identify ways to be more successful in 2019.

First, to recap just what it is that we’re talking about, team member engagement is an emotional commitment to your employer and involves loyalty, commitment, satisfaction, advocacy, and going the extra mile. Using a series of specific survey questions, all team members are classified as Engaged, Passive or Disengaged.

Disengaged workers are more likely to look for other opportunities, or worse, drag down the productivity of the rest of your team. Unfortunately, every casino has disengaged team members who don’t know what promotions are going on because they don’t care, frontline team members who provide minimal guest service because they’re only there for the paycheck, and team members who are so unhappy at work that it affects everyone around them.

There are many reasons why having engaged team members is more important today than ever before. Competition in the gaming industry continues to become fiercer, so holding onto profit margins has become more difficult for many casinos, much less being expected to increase earning year over year. Retaining the best team members is also more critical than ever. In Raving’s 2nd Annual Indian Gaming National Marketing Survey, which had participation from almost 20% of all Tribal casinos in the U.S., the biggest challenge facing casinos is staffing. 21% of casinos ranked this as a bigger challenge than aging amenities, meeting profit goals, and a list of other issues that casinos routinely encounter.

Engagement Leads to Profit

Team member engagement continues to be critically important because of findings shown below:

  • Companies with low engagement scores earn an operating income 32.7 percent lower than companies with more engaged team members.
  • Similarly, companies with a highly engaged workforce experience a 19.2 percent growth in operating income over a 12-month period.
  • Engaged companies grow profits as much as three times faster than their competitors.
  • Highly engaged team members are 87 percent less likely to leave the organization.
  • Companies with highly engaged team members have two times higher guest loyalty.

Measuring Engagement

It’s really hard to change team member engagement if you aren’t measuring it. There are many ways to take on issues related to team member engagement within an organization, but one challenge is constant. Without dependable data, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to influence true change or impact lasting outcomes.

An engagement survey is best done by an outside company, as an internal survey would raise the question of anonymity. Team members won’t be open and honest if they think that they could be penalized in some way for negative answers. The survey itself contains structured questions to determine what motivates team members and what level they’re currently at. You end up with specific data that shows areas of strength and weakness so you know just where to target your efforts.

Most companies across industries conduct team member engagement surveys every year or every two years. It depends on how many survey-driven changes you make and how long you need to monitor the impact of those changes. If your company has high levels of disengaged team members and you commit to improvement actions, then you would definitely want to be on an annual schedule to monitor progress.

2019 Trends in Team Member Engagement

1. Company culture is team member-driven

How team members interact and react to one another, align on shared values and recognize one another’s contributions is what builds trust, respect and confidence. This, in turn, contributes to company culture. Your company needs to examine how you’re nurturing good team member interactions and teamwork, and be sure to implement best practices. A team member engagement survey will tell you if you have problems, such as supervisors not supporting the people who report to them – this is just one example of how it is imperative to know how team members at your organization rank interactions among themselves and their managers.

2. Real-time recognition is the best

Team member of the month and year are great ways to give recognition, but that’s a long time to wait for someone to get positive feedback. Today’s team members expect and want more frequent recognition. Real-time recognition is ideal for managers to provide in-the-moment feedback, validation and celebrations on the spot. If you see a team member doing something above and beyond, stop and recognize the action on the spot. If other team members are around, even better.

3. Team members value choice

Recognition is powerful because it is as much a celebration of the individual as it is a validation of what is accomplished. Using rewards and incentives that team members can personally identify with will strengthen the emotional engagement aspect of recognition far more than rewards that have been chosen for them. 2018 taught us that rewarding team members with gift cards is the best way to put the power of choice to work. We’ll continue to see this trend throughout 2019.

4. Measure your recognition program

Recognition programs are an excellent source of information, insights and actionable next steps. How actively people engage in the program will help you identify the “doers” and “influencers,” as they are the people who could be the future leaders of your organization. Identify these team members and actively seek their input to improve team member engagement.

5. Invest in relationships, not technology

A final team member engagement trend is to focus on relationships and not a technology platform designed to improve your recognition program. 2018 taught us that investing in practical programs that are easy to implement and simple to use will gain earlier adoption and heavier utilization. Once again, conducting a team member engagement survey will show you where to focus your efforts in order to get maximum results.

Want More Info?

This article is just the tip of an area of research that can have a major impact on your bottom line. For more information about how to bring team member engagement surveys to your property, contact Amy Hergenrother, Raving’s VP of Business Development, at 775-329-7864, or [email protected].

Deb Hilgeman, Ph.D.