Joie de Vivre Engages Employees And Everyone Wins

I just read an interesting article in Monday’s Wall Street Journal called Hotelier Finds Happiness; Keeps Staff Checked In. It’s a story about how Joie de Vivre Hospitality improved the performance of its hotels by focusing on employees. Here’s the opening story…

Former management at the Hotel Carlton in San Francisco didn’t like to replace aging vacuums, despite staff complaints. After Joie de Vivre Hospitality Inc. took over operations in 2003, the new manager bought a vacuum for each of the 15 housekeepers — and replaces them every year.

This was just one example of how Hervé Blondel, the Hotel Carlton general manager, said he tried to treat workers as partners rather than employees. In addition, he did things like sitting in for front-desk workers on their lunch breaks and heeding staff suggestions to eliminate minibars, which generated little revenue at the midprice hotel.

My take: The founder and CEO of the firm, Chip Conley, definitely seems to understand the strong link between employee satisfaction and good customer experience. The article talks about a number of things that he does to engage employees like sponsoring parties and awards, arranging paid annual retreats for employees, hosting regular dinners with those who want to chat, and offering free classes on subjects from Microsoft Excel to English as a second language.

It looks like Joie de Vivre Hospitality is a great example of a key principle of Experience-Based Differentiation: “Treat customer experience as a competence, not a function.”

But that wasn’t what caught my eye the most in this article. What I really found amazing were the numbers that were quoted. Here’s what it said:

  • Joie de Vivre’s turnover is 25% to 30% annually, about half of the industry average.
  • Market Metrix estimates that each departure costs a midrange hotel about $5,000 in lost productivity, and recruiting and training a replacement
  • Joie de Vivre has 2,500 employees. About 90% are hourly workers who take reservations, clean toilets and perform other low-status jobs.

So lets do some math with those numbers. Reducing the turnover from 50% to 25% for its 2,250 hourly workers means that the hotel chain has 562 fewer employees leaving each year. That saves the company more than $2.8 million each year. And that doesn’t even include any revenue from the likely uptick in loyalty and positive word-of-mouth. Wow! 

The bottom line: Engaging employees makes sense for customers and the bottom line!

Written by 

I'm an experience (XM) management catalyst; helping organizations improve results by engaging the hearts and minds of their employees, customers, and partners. I enjoy researching and speaking about leading-edge XM topics. I lead the Qualtrics XM Institute, which is the world's best job. We're igniting a global community of XM Professionals who are inspired and empowered to radically improve the human experience. To achieve this goal, my team focuses on thought leadership, training, and community building. My work is driven by a set of fundamental beliefs: 1) Everything starts and ends with human beings, so you need to understand how people think, feel, and behave; 2) XM is a discipline that needs to be woven throughout an organization's entire operating fabric; and 3) Building the XM discipline requires a combination of culture, competency, and technology.

One thought on “Joie de Vivre Engages Employees And Everyone Wins”

  1. Great article.

    Your readers might want to try a leading customer service review website where people share reviews with other users and with companies. Companies that are involved with and value customer service read Measuredup to keep up on what people are saying and to be able to improve customer service.

    It is free and easy to use.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.