Casino Employee Advocates Are A Must Have for Success

Employee Advocates Love Coming to Work

By Martin R. Baird

 When I pay a professional visit to a casino, I go in the employee entrance.  As always, I observe what happens around me and what I often see amazes and deeply saddens me.

Bright and sunny faces turn dark and dull as employees step into the casino.  It’s almost like a bad science fiction movie in which some kind of technology in the doorway removes employees’ “funability” and replaces it with “frownability.”

What is it that magically turns fun people into “Dawn of the Dead” employees I see on the floor at many casinos?  Is it the working conditions or the number of hours and days that people work?  I’m not sure, but I do know this – if you are conducting employee satisfaction surveys to get to the root of the problem, you are wasting your time, energy and money.

I believe that for a casino to succeed, employees must do more than slap on a fake smile and act like they care about the guests.  Casinos need to have employees who are advocates for the property.  These are employees who are willing to risk their reputation for the casino where they work.  By risk, I mean they tell people how much they love working at the casino and they encourage people to play there.  They also don’t spread bad stories about the casino around their community.

If you want to have more employee advocates, here are three simple steps that will help you achieve that goal.  By the way, successfully creating more employee advocates will help you attain yet another important goal, as you will soon see.

It all starts with measuring the number of employee advocates that you currently have.  You need to know from unbiased research if your people are positive, neutral or negative about your property.  Once you have the percentage of each category, you can calculate your net employee advocate score.

Casino Consultant and Advocate Development System

Advocate Development System

After you have started the measurement process, you should look at what the research tells you.  (Please note that I said started, not finished.  This is not a do-it-once-and-forget-it system.  This process involves continuous improvement for the casino and it’s people.)  The research should identify improvements and changes that would turn your employees into advocates.  It should give you clues about how to move employees from a neutral or negative feeling about your casino to being positive about it.  The solutions could range from better food in the employee dining room to having some holidays off.  I’ll tell you right here and now that, more often than not, a raise will not be a factor.  Employees will want something more intangible, like more praise for a job well done or managers who listen and support them.

Next comes improvement.  You need to have people and processes in place so your employees get more enjoyment out of their work.  One of the ways to do this is through training of front-line supervisors and managers so they know how to recognize and reward people for a job well done.  Management needs to shift its focus away from looking for problems and writing employees up and giving them points.  Employees simply do not respond well to negative reinforcement.

Most supervisors have no idea they should recognize people for doing the right thing and even if they do, they don’t know how to do it.  How would they?  They didn’t learn the benefits of positive reinforcement in school.  Most schools only teach how to create a punitive environment.  Rewards are given out sparingly at best, so that is what supervisors think they should do.  They need to learn the art of recognition and reward.  It is truly an acquired skill for most people.

But even supervisors need a pat on the back.  Which brings me to the last step.  You must have systems in place to recognize supervisors who are changing for the better.  If they are not rewarded for trying to help you create more employee advocates, it will be all too easy for them to go back to the old way of doing things.  An adage I often use in employee training is that people cannot perform a behavior that they have not experienced.

Those are the three steps.  As I already pointed out, this is an ongoing process.  As you roll out changes and improvements in your casino and continue to measure, you will know you are on the right track when your net employee advocate score gets larger.  The higher the score, the more employee advocates you have.

In the last few months, as I have worked with our clients, I have been surprised and saddened by how few casino employees like coming to work.  Most of them would rather have a tooth pulled without a pain killer than come to work.  If this is the reality at your casino, how are these employees ever going to create guest advocates – the other kind of advocate you need for future success.  If your employees are not advocates of your casino and their jobs, it will be almost impossible for them to create guest advocates.

But if your employees are advocates, they will turn average guests into advocates who spread positive word about your property.  That’s the other goal I hinted at earlier.

From my point of view, employee advocates don’t hate coming to work.  They may have bad days or even bad weeks like most people, but, for the most part, they are excited by the challenges in their jobs.  They like interacting with their colleagues and experience real pleasure from giving guests the best service possible.

If your people aren’t telling their family and friends that your casino is THE place to work, you have a serious problem no matter what your last employee satisfaction survey said.

Lydia Baird