In every kind of business, keeping staff happy and motivated should be considered one of the key factors. This is even more relevant in the hospitality industry where, at least, part of your staff becomes the face of your business and the point of contact with your customers. With good service being one of the most important aspects of the hospitality business, and can separate you from your competition, it becomes clear that having a motivated team is more likely to represent your business in a positive way, and with better results, than a frustrated crew.
From an academic perspective, motivation is divided into two subcategories: intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation, from the latin intrinsecus, inward, refers to ‘inner’ motivation. This is a very individual and personal form of motivation that stems from finding enjoyment and excitement in a task, and gaining a personal reward for doing a task for the sake of it, rather than for an external benefit. While finding employees who are motivated by the task alone is the preferable option, it is not realistic to expect that all your staff simply loves what they do so much, that no other form of motivation or incentive is necessary.




Extrinsic motivation refers to external influences that impacts staff performance. External motivators can be either positive, like grades, awards or rewards, or negative like a punishment. While intrinsic factors cannot be easily influenced by the manager, extrinsic values are completely within his control. The difference between a good and bad manager often comes down to the ability to understand his staff. A good manager should know and understand his staff in order to motivate each one in one way or another, that is a raise or a bonus, or a promotion or a change of task, in order to create diversification and subsequently more focus in the new challenge.

It is clear that motivational measures are powerful and, for this reason, need to be handled carefully but, at the same time, equally towards the employees. It is also important to realise that everyone reach differently to motivation incentives, even though some patterns recurred in every study conducted by different researchers throughout history. Rewarding excessively, either in type or time-period, can lead to decreased intrinsic motivation, known as the ‘overjustification’ effect. For example, rewarding a waiter with a financial bonus for no complaints can lead to a decrease in performance if all of a sudden, one day, the incentive is not there. Extrinsic motivation should be avoided as much as possible, or limited to those activities found already pleasurable by the staff in order to not disrupt intrinsic motivation coming from the task. Intrinsic motivation can be increased by acknowledging a job well-done, or just variating the tasks in order to acquire and develop new skills to make the job more dynamic and interesting. It is important to remark that the reward method should be used consciously, avoiding it for easy tasks and remembering that, in the long-run, rewards will be less effective due to boredom, loss of attention, and less excitement about completing the same reward.
Aware of these theories, it’s good to pinpoint few key behaviours that every manager should adopt towards his or her employees. Inspiration is the first thing. A manager should always be setting an example, leading the group by being a role model. This kind of behavior will increase a sense of purpose for the members of the team, improve their focus, creativity and resilience.

Be kind toward your organisation. Take good care of each staff member and it will create a feeling of belongingness. A closely knit and coordinated team will always be more productive than one that is scattered. Simple team-building sessions or events like staff parties is a great way to weld the team, while also giving the team a chance to put down tensions created during long and exhausting working hours. It’s also important to remember to celebrate the small successes, to make the team feel like they can make a difference and have an impact on results.

Increase consciousness about self-care. As the Romans used to say: “mens sana in corpore sano” – healthy mind, healthy body. A lot of companies offer their employees subscription or discounts for the gym, training sessions, yoga and meditation classes. We are aware that this is not possible for everyone, but incentivising your staff to a healthier lifestyle, doing sports or different activities with regular sleep cycles and healthy food, will also improve the mind’s abilities in everyday life, increasing attention and concentration also during working hours.
The last piece of advice that we want to give you is a simple one – talk. Communication is a key element in every kind of relationship. Try to listen and practice what you are being told by your employees, and be clear and firm when you speak, adopting a soft tone even when it would be easier to yell and shout. Dispense knowledge instead of only criticising, and enable yourself to be reliable towards your employees, listening to everyone, accepting criticism, evaluating their proposals and making them feel like a part of something more than a business.