Radisson Hotel Group believes that adding playtime to the workday can generate big profits.
This summer, employees of the Radisson Blu Hotel enjoyed gourmet steak and roasted zucchini while cheering on their favorite Radisson chefs in a “Chopped” cooking contest at the Mall of America.
Weeks later, Radisson workers hopped on bikes to pedal alongside a world-class motorcyclist seeking to set a Guinness World Record for riding a solar-powered bicycle across America.
“It’s about strengthening commitment and team spirit, and strengthening team spirit and corporate culture,” said Nicolas Tiziou, responsible business director of Radisson America.
Unusual business-led antics exemplify efforts some employers are willing to make to tackle worker isolation during COVID and to retain employees who may be tempted to join in the ‘big resignation’ currently sweeping the country .
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July alone, resulting in a record 10.9 million job vacancies nationwide. 4.3 million more resigned in August. The dropout rate is the highest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking the numbers in 2001.
Minnesota employers reported 127,314 job openings, the fourth highest in two decades, according to state data. The hardest hit sectors are sales, healthcare, technology and food preparation.
“Companies are trying to get a little bit higher,” said John Dooney of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). “There is a need and an excitement to interact in any way possible.”
In a recent survey, SHRM found that 40% of American workers were actively looking for new jobs. Almost half of executives reported “much higher than usual revenue” in the past six months. Almost nine in ten vacant positions have remained vacant for longer periods than before the pandemic.
With increasing pressure to retain workers and keep them happy, many companies have adopted unusual and creative ways to help employees have fun, laughter, and feel appreciated.
Some managers are now conducting “stay interviews” to find out what excites workers enough to make them want to stay long after the pandemic is over.
Some send workers snacks, host murder mystery challenges, or host virtual happy hours with alcohol deliveries so team members can reconnect, SHRM’s Dooney said.
In Duluth, Bent Paddle Brewing Co. closed its brewery in late September to take all of its 40-member staff to the Lake Superior beach for a staff appreciation day.
At Land O’Lakes, CTO Teddy Bekele devoted part of his weekly Zoom staff meeting to a Lego Masters challenge for employees and their homebound children.
The idea of ”show and tell” hatched after Bekele’s youngest son kept interrupting staff meetings to scroll through his latest Lego creation on the computer screen, while his father was trying to chase him away.
The Lego competitions have become a hit with workers at the Arden Hills-based agricultural cooperative, Bekele said. They lasted until schools reopened in September and many children returned to class.
“It has become one of my favorite meetings of the week,” said Bekele. “I was really looking forward to this time.”
Hosting professional events doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can pay big dividends.
Recent studies by Gallup Inc. and AON found that companies with “highly engaged” employees were 17% more productive, 21% more profitable, and 41% less likely to experience absenteeism than companies with weren’t trying to make the workplace more fun and fun.
“In general, highly engaged employees tend to stick around, and therefore companies have lower revenue,” Dooney said. “What we do know is that they [such engagement efforts] are very helpful during the recruiting process. “
Minneapolis-based marketing firm One10 creates extensive employee recognition programs for some of America’s largest companies. Budgets can range from $ 2,000 to $ 12,000 per employee and often involve sending workers to resorts like Disney World.
But COVID lockdowns and travel restrictions have forced One10 to get creative.
For a client, the marketing company created a late-night virtual comedy show with a comedian, music, employee skits and stand-up routines.
Over the past 18 months, One10 has also run virtual mixology classes, golf lessons, charcuterie board design contests, and trivia contests with elaborate gift kits.
“Humor, in a time of darkness and isolation, was a loophole,” said Samantha Decker, Marketing Director of One10.
For Radisson Hotel Group Americas, the idea of an employee-supported bike ride and chef competition started as marketing and training exercises, but evolved into a worker engagement strategy.
The hospitality industry has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, especially among low-wage workers, and the labor shortage remains acute.
Radisson executives realized that efforts to bring employees together for wacky activities not only helped energize the workforce, but established an exciting company culture that reached customers as well.
“This is a fantastic message for our team members and our customers as well,” said Tiziou.
Radisson Hotel Group America CEO Jim Alderman competed as a judge in this summer’s Radisson Blu Chefs competition. Alderman is also moving Radisson’s long-standing, multi-story corporate headquarters from Minnetonka to the new 10 West End building in St. Louis Park.
There, its 225 employees will be on one floor instead of three when they return to the office on a hybrid basis in spring 2022.
“It was about convenience and getting everyone on the same floor,” Alderman said. “For me, it was very important.”
This intense focus on employees is accentuated by competition in a tight labor market.
“There is so much talent in this area,” Alderman said.
“There are so many successful businesses that if we’re not flexible,” as well as fun and welcoming, he said, “I don’t know if we’ll have the people we need. absolutely to add people. “
When biker Sushil Reddy, founder of Sun Pedal Ride in India, asked Minnetonka-based Radisson to sponsor his 6,000-mile solar trek across America, the hotel chain saw a great marketing opportunity. .
Reddy will be sleeping at 55 Radisson hotels during his three-month trip, and Radisson employees have the chance to have fun.
When Reddy began his journey in September, Radisson employees accompanied him from the Mall of America in Bloomington to Radisson’s headquarters in Minnetonka amid a fanfare of ribbons, balloons and applause.
At every hotel stop, workers now ride alongside Reddy and his e-bike rigged in their Radisson-logo biker shirts. Employees organize events to donate bikes to local charities and perform bike safety checks.
“We are a very social and interactive industry,” said Michael Fischer, director of human resources at Radisson, of efforts to engage workers. “Many of us have missed that personal connection. While remote working has certainly had its benefits, people are mentally strained by the isolation.”
A crazy event like the solar-powered bike ride fights that isolation, he said.