First, we need to understand that there are two parts to any job. There is the context and the content. Context is all about the environment in which I get to do my job. Content is all about the job that I get to do.
So context would be work conditions, schedule, uniform, tools, leave, canteen and all that god stuff.
Content, on the other hand, is all about autonomy, variation, recognition, feedback, sense of belonging, meaning making.
Context is what drives basic satisfaction – it is what people feel they need to have. Content, on the other hand is the big driver of employee engagement, and it is more in the category nice to have. This is all well documented in research after research.
So the big challenge in the service industry is that many jobs don’t provide much content. Dishwashing, cleaning, housekeeping, laundry service and similar position all fall in this category.
The work is hard, the pay is low and there is not much recognition from the rest of the organisation for doing a good job.
So how do we provide job content for these positions?
Here is a clue:
“The people we interviewed from the good-to-great companies clearly loved what they did, largely because they loved who they did it with.” – Jim Collins
The secret here is to create and environment where we focus on enabling the social connections. If we can help these teams form good relationships with each other: camaraderie, having fun together, seeing themselves as comrades in adversity then that contributes enormously to job content.
Some of the best housekeeping managers I know invest considerable time in proving opportunities for their teams to spend social time together, and they have the great-place-to-work score to prove that it is well worth the time and resources.
This blog post is part of a series of answers to frequent questions that I get around the concept of the Service Profit Chain. In future posts, we will continue to explore other key points. If you would like the full concept served up in one go, you will find Mike’s book “Best! No need to be cheap if…” HERE.