Happy employees in the hospitality industry make for happy bottom lines

If you look up the definition of hospitality you’ll find:

‘Hospitality is friendly, welcoming behaviour toward guests or people you have just met’


‘The act of being friendly and welcoming to guests and visitors’

So, we’d hope for the industry to be a happy place not only for its customers but also those who work in it.

My platform, Engaging Works, enables me to look across all industries in the UK and what is overwhelmingly clear is that the hospitality industry needs happy employees – making happy employees means creating a happy environment for customers. And a happy and welcoming environment will lead to a happier bottom line….

Looking at the data from my free Workplace Happiness Survey, we can see that across all demographics, people working in the hospitality industry are proud to work for their organisation. Instilling pride in employees is key to creating a happy working environment and will help increase productivity by 20%. If employees feel pride they will speak openly and positively about it to colleagues, potential employees, customers and people in their community. The key point to make about pride is that it centres on having a purpose – each employee must see what they do each day is worthwhile.

If we look at the hospitality industry’s average happiness score in the UK it is 602. The average score in the UK currently is 647. So where can the industry improve?


It’s clear that the gap between the happiness of management and non-management needs to be addressed. When asked “Do you feel your views are heard at work?”, management employees are significantly more positive than non-management employees. Similarly, when compared to non-management employees, management respond significantly more positive when asked “Do you feel you do something worthwhile?”

When it comes to empowerment, managers scored high with 7.5 where as non-managers low with 5.8 – a stark difference.

I’ve found empowerment to be a key driver in helping employees be happier at work. Empowerment means making them a key part of the decision-making process. Listening to their ideas. Integrating their suggestions to build and refine the business. Importantly empowerment means rewarding employees by giving them freedom, power, trust, autonomy and encouragement.

By helping non-managers to become happier at work, we can improve the happiness of the entire industry.


When it comes to the happiness of male and female employees there are again clear differences which should be addressed.

Male employees feel a greater sense of recognition than female employees when asked “Do you feel recognised when you do something well?”. Female employees scored low with 5.2 compared with other industries scoring 5.7.

Men feel that they are being developed more than women scoring 6.1 compared to women’s 5.6 average score. Men also feel that they are respected at work with a high score of 7.7. Compare this to women who scored on average 7.0.

When it comes to information sharing, women score this lower than men. Compared to men they feel they don’t have enough information to do their job well and feel that information isn’t openly shared at work

Information sharing is incredibly important but it is also an incredibly difficult element of achieving an engaged workforce. Not sharing information makes employees feel an unimportant part of the business. Engagement and commitment are eroded by this. The closed-door approach doesn’t just have a negative impact on engagement, it can directly impact on decision-making, and therefore profitability and success.

Reward, which includes pay, is something my survey delves into – it’s an important subject that has been highlighted by the gender-pay gap. Looking at reward the hospitality industry scores higher than average with women scoring on average 6.55 when asked if they feel appropriately rewarded at work – in other industries women score 6.2. Men in hospitality also score higher with 6.8 compared with 6.4 in other industries. But importantly see here that men feel more rewarded than women in hospitality.

Addressing these issues and getting women as happy as men in the workplace would undoubtedly help the industry to be a happier sector to work in.

Indeed, looking back to the definition of hospitality, employers must endeavour to create a friendly and welcoming environment for both their customers and their employees – we then could see a much happier hospitality industry.

Lord Mark Price is the founder of Engaging Works and former MD for Waitrose and former Minister for Trade and Investment