Casino Employees Crave Incentives

Casino Employees Crave Bias-Free Rewards and Incentives for Providing Outstanding Guest Service


Studies show that employees would rather get praise from their supervisors than money.  It sounds hard to believe, but most casino employees are starving for attention from their bosses.  As far as they’re concerned, a pat on the back would be a nice change.


We all know that casinos are highly regulated and that they have too many rules to mention.  That’s why it’s easy to get wrapped up in what people do wrong instead of what they do right.  Casino staffers get tired of hearing about their mistakes.  They want to hear applause for a job well done.


Some companies do the typical employee of the month.  They select one or a few employees who did a great job the previous month and they recognize them.  That’s better than nothing but, unfortunately, it misses the boat.


As I work with casinos across the
U.S. and around the world, employees always talk about how they want an unbiased way of being recognized.  They feel that the manager’s pet gets all the rewards while the hard-working people on graveyard never even get noticed.


That may not be fact, but that’s the perception.  Employees see recognition as a popularity contest that’s not based on specific criteria.  They want to know what they will be judged on so they can deliver it.


Your recognition system needs to be bias free.  You should have a third party do the mystery shopping and base your findings on their interactions with staff members.   By doing this, you remove the huge hornet’s nest that managers bring into the equation.


Mystery shoppers have absolutely no vested interest in who gets the rewards and recognition.  They’re responsible for obtaining a certain number of interactions during a visit and sending in their findings.


This third-party approach also keeps managers out of the explanation corner.  They don’t have to justify why they selected one person over another.  They’re given the data and the selection is based purely on what the shoppers experienced over the last month.


I’m doing this with a casino and after one of the shops, management was amazed that a particular staff member got very high scores.  This person was a terrible employee from the manager’s perspective, but that staff member was well loved by the “guest,” the mystery shopper.  It is important to note that shoppers don’t address issues that managers may have faced with specific employees.


You need your recognition program to revolve around what a guest thinks, not a manager.


Before you rush out and add mystery shopping to your budget, it’s critical that you think about what you want evaluated during a shop.  Some companies shop for standards.  They want to know if the phone was answered within the right number of rings or that it only took one minute for a machine fill.


You can have shoppers who look at their guest-service experience.  You can have them shop for security and almost any other part of your casino operation.  It’s important that you invest some time up front so you know what you’re shopping for.


Once you have decided the context of a mystery shop, it’s important that you educate your employees and give them the skills they need to do the job right.  This is not like a pop quiz in school.  You want your people to get high scores during a shop because that means they’re doing things right.


And when they do things right, your guests notice and appreciate it!


Speaking of appreciation, the next step is to design a program that shows your employees you appreciate that they are doing what you have asked them to do.  Let’s say you want to improve guest service and that you’re encouraging employees to smile and be proactive with helping guests.  If the mystery shoppers find people who are doing that, you need to provide those employees with a reward as quickly as you can.  Give them a pat on the back, or in the wallet, that thanks them for doing what you desired from them.


Yes, this is simple behavior modification.  It’s easier to get people to do what you want if you reward them for it.  You want that person to know that the training they received was not just for that day.  They need to know that these are the standards they will be judged by going forward.


Before you get your first reports with all the data on what happened during the last shops, you should have a turnkey system designed so you have rewards and recognition that are ready to go.  The sooner employees see the results of their efforts the better.


Now, what are you going to give them?  Will it be a promotional item, cash or just an attaboy?  Think it through.  What will most of the people look forward to getting?  It could be lunch with some of the key executives.  It means a lot to employees to have a meal with members of top management and it also sends the message that they are important parts of the team.


After you decide what they will receive for positive behavior, you also want to think about how they will receive it.  You’ve all heard that you praise in public and correct in private.  Well, people don’t get the public praise often enough.


I’m getting very strong response from posting the recognition in a public place.  People like to know that their peers can see they were recognized.  It’s also nice to have someone from the management team recognize that person during various times.


Setting up a reward-and-recognition system is not easy or inexpensive.  It takes time, thought and energy to make it happen.  A problem to keep in mind is that all of the thought and work will be thrown out the window if your employees do not see the process as being unbiased.  If they view it as a popularity contest, you could be losing ground.  Employees are too important to be left to chance!


Martin R. Baird

Robinson & Associates, Inc.


This article also appeared in Casino Journal

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