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Jurys Inn - Employee Engagement

By Iain Law, Client Manager, TLF Research

Last year one of our Customer Insight case studies featured Jurys Inn, owner of 32 hotels in city centre locations in the UK, Ireland and the Czech Republic. Jurys sees exceptional customer service as one of the main differentiating factors that sets it apart from other three star hotels, and its employees are the key to delivering that service consistently. Consequently, the company has placed HR in the forefront of its strategic objectives. Last year Jurys improved its scores in its annual employee engagement survey, placing it in the top decile of all organisations. In the previous article we described in detail the huge amount of work undertaken by HR at Jurys to communicate the survey results and PFIs (priorities for improvement) and galvanise managers, especially in the hotels, to work throughout the year to address issues arising from the survey. HR also worked hard to give managers the tools for the job. These included a bespoke Leadership Programme for all hotel managers and departmental heads, plus extensive work on vision and values, reward and recognition, internal communications and career development. You can see the full story at http://www.customer-insight.co.uk/article/994

Employee engagement still going up

In November 2012, The Leadership Factor conducted Jurys latest employee engagement survey and the scores increased again. Jurys employee satisfaction index of 78.6% places it in the top 4% of all organisations on a very tough measure compared with the top 10% in 2011 and the top 20% the year before.

Response rate

Equally impressive is the consistent improvement in Jurys Inn’s response rate, which has now hit a very high 88%, up another 10% from last year. According to HR Director Jennifer Lee, three factors account for this excellent response rate. Firstly, the hotel General Managers’ employee engagement bonus is based on response rate as well as employee satisfaction.  Secondly the appointment and role of the ‘Survey Champions’, has been extremely beneficial as they ensure the survey is always on the agenda – whether they are encouraging employees to fill it in, or assisting Managers in taking action on the PFIs after the survey. The third factor is partly driven by the first two. Hotels and General Managers really compete with each other on response rate as well as satisfaction and engagement scores. In 2012 two hotels achieved an amazing 100% response rate. There’s another vital reason as well. Jurys has acted on the results of previous surveys and made things better. Where organisations go through the motions of conducting employee surveys but never really take any serious action afterwards, it’s not surprising that employees become cynical. If they can see management taking it seriously and improvements happening they start to believe in the process and the response rate always goes up.

Learning and development

Jurys has maintained its emphasis on learning and development and HR  continues to enhance the impact on its new training initiatives by branding them. Last year saw the launch of Grow, starting with the induction of new employees as the first six months are so critical in determining employees’ future engagement with the organisation. Grow is supported by a comprehensive suite of e-learning materials and new employees get a logon as soon as they’re offered the job so that even before their first day at work they can see the company video, the vision and values, the company structure and all the background information leaving their first day free for hotel specific induction. This starts with two hours on values, what’s expected and cultural matters such as customer focus and this session is always conducted by the Human Resources manager. This is followed by six modules of induction training, some of them certified, which has proved very popular with employees at all levels. 

Job chats

As well as the formal appraisal process, hotel managers are encouraged to hold less formal ‘job chats’ with everyone and these have also been very successful. Employees who have had a job chat are typically 10% more satisfied than those who haven’t, and this data is available at hotel level as well as company-wide, giving hotel managers a very actionable measure they can take this year to improve employee engagement further. 

Reward and recognition

As we reported last time, praise and recognition are very prominent in the Jurys culture. Every second month one employee in every hotel is recognised for being ‘exceptional’ and at the end of the year each hotel selects an overall winner to represent it at the annual gala dinner where ‘Oscars’ are awarded for exceptional performance or behaviours. There are team awards such as ‘Best Hotel’ (Edinburgh was 2011 winner) and other categories such as ‘Best Accommodation Standards’, ‘Best Eco friendly Hotel’ and ‘Best Employee satisfaction score’ (Newcastle-Gateshead was 2011 winner). 

The 2012 awards will be held in Jurys Inn Milton Keynes on the 21st February – and the results are top secret!  But Jennifer has advised us that this year’s awards will also recognise those Hotels with the most innovative responses to business issues and survey challenges, as well as providing recognition to those Hotels who have shown the most consistent progress in improving their scores over the past three years.  The ‘big’ award on the night is to select the overall Exceptional Employee of 2012 – from a list of 34 fantastic employees from each of the Hotels and Group Offices!

Narrowing the gap

One of the things that most pleased HR Director Jennifer Lee in the 2012 employee engagement survey was the significant reduction in the gap between the highest and lowest scoring hotels for the second successive year. In 2010 two hotels achieved an employee satisfaction index around 85% (Limerick and Cork) but the gap between the highest and lowest was almost 30%. By 2011 the gap between the highest and the lowest had narrowed to just over 22% and the average employee satisfaction level of hotels in the bottom quartile had improved by 4.5%. In 2012 the average score for the bottom quartile had improved by a further 4.5% and the gap had reduced to 18% even though the score for the top hotel had gone up. In 2012 employee satisfaction at the lowest scoring Jurys Inn would place it almost in the top quartile of employee satisfaction levels compared with other organisations generally. This improvement is down to the special efforts that the HR department at Jurys focused on the lowest quartile. Every two months in 2012 Employee Relations Manager, Deborah Taylor, had visited all eight hotels in the bottom quartile to review progress with managers and hold focus groups with employees to really understand whether the PFIs were being effectively addressed. She could then feed back to the hotel managers and help them to tweak their actions plans if necessary. 

Take action. Improve engagement

As we saw from the above figures, Deborah’s work with the bottom quartile hotels has certainly paid off. As have the efforts made by everyone at Jurys from John Brennan (the CEO), the hotel General Managers to the Survey Champions to make a difference. Basically, Jurys Inn has listened to its employees, taken action on the PFIs (priorities for improvement) that have come out of its surveys and employee engagement has improved. Every year.

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