Significant Stat: Toxic Employees

Workplace Challenge

“Toxic workers are so damaging to the bottom line that avoiding them or rooting them out delivers twice the value to a company than hiring a superstar performer does.” (source)

The Ritz-Carlton Perspective

Disengaged employees can be a challenge for their co-workers, their bosses and their organizations, and according to a recent study, toxic employees “cost firms significantly more money than most of them even realize.” The study defines toxic as “both a person’s ability to cause harm and their propensity to infect others with their bad attitude.” For example, employees who provide poor customer service are not creating customer loyalty and are losing potential future revenue for their organizations. Employees with bad attitudes often fulfill the adage—“misery loves company”—and recruit their co-workers to be toxic as well. One way to circumvent toxic employees is not to hire them in the first place. The Ritz-Carlton selects our employees—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen—very carefully. Candidates who truly have a spirit to serve are the best fit for our culture. Finding employees who fit your organizational culture will help prevent “buyer’s remorse” and should lead to a more harmonious and positive work environment. 

Significant Stat: Retaining Talent

26% of employees plan to leave their employers within the next 2 years. (source)

Advice from Joseph Quitoni, Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

At The Ritz-Carlton, we have created “The Systems Behind the Smiles” to ensure that we not only select the right talent, but also retain that talent. These processes include orientation, daily Line-Up and periodic checkpoints that breathe life into our Gold Standards. They were developed by asking leaders what they needed most in order to be successful. Leaders said they wanted processes that would allow them to select, develop and retain the best employees. Leaders agreed that without good employees, it is extremely difficult to move a team closer to the goals and dreams of the team and the organization. If good leaders have the best people to work with, then reaching the goals of the team and the organization become significantly easier while also considerably strengthening the organization. These processes allow our leaders to maximize the talents of employees, create a healthy work environment with a high retention rate, reach goals and add to the value of The Ritz-Carlton.

Significant Stat: Engaging the B2B Customer

Only 29% of your B2B customers are engaged, with the remaining 71% either indifferent or actively disengaged. (source)

Advice from Jeff Hargett, Senior Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

“Companies aren’t growing—so they are acquiring their competitors.” So says Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup since 1988. On a regular basis, we see yet another acquisition or merger in the news. When one organization acquires another, one question that is asked: “Which ‘culture’ do we follow?” The logical answer would be, the company initiating the acquisition.  However, the acquired institution surely has devoted customers who have sworn allegiance over the years to the organization that now has become part of the competition’s portfolio.  Mr. Clifton’s article, gives us some insight to the work that needs to be done with the “new” customer base coming onboard with the acquisition.

In order to determine how best to welcome the B2B customer into the new fold, it is important to practice that age-old tradition of “listening to your customers.” This is a foundational aspect of service delivery at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. Feedback is a gift, and in this situation it can provide excellent insight into the needs of our B2B customers. I find it interesting that the data in this study mirrors the research found in the 2015 State of the American Workplace study showing that 70% of U.S. workers are not engaged at work. Should a disengaged employee interact with a disengaged customer, the odds of success are diminished significantly—perhaps to the level of a confirmed loss of business. If we can reduce the level of disengaged employees, we can potentially increase the number of engaged customers—an excellent equation for any successful business

Empowering Women in the Workplace

According to the United States Census Bureau, in the U.S., women make up 50.8% of the U.S. population and hold close to 52% of jobs at S&P 500 companies. However, in those jobs only 14.6% are executives, 8.1% are top wage earners and 4.6% are CEOs. This is only one of many statistics illustrating the gender gap in leadership and empowerment around the world. The United Nations (UN) has included “achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls” as one of its sustainable development goals, and the 2016 International Women’s Day Forum, held on March 7 and 8 of this year by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, focused on “The Business of Inclusion: Global Prosperity Through Women and Girls Empowerment.”

As founding partners of IMPACT 2030, the business-led effort to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, Herve Humler, President and Chief Operations Officer for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C., and leaders from IBM, Tata Consultancy and UPS participated in a panel discussion. Together they discussed how Impact 2030 partners and the UN could collaborate on tackling the problem of gender inequality by engaging employees more effectively and supporting volunteerism.

“The whole two days was all about finding new opportunities for women,” said Nicki Allen, Manager, Community Footprints with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, “keeping women inspired to not only enter the workforce but to remain in the workforce and to then progress into opportunities for leadership.” Mr. Humler highlighted efforts to help align young ladies with goals and career opportunities post-graduation through our Succeed Through Service mentoring program. Specifically, students growing up in the communities surrounding our hotels get to learn about careers in hospitality, the skills required and enjoy mentorship from Ritz-Carlton employees, known as Ladies and Gentlemen. Here are four ways your organization can better support female employees and inspire them to grow as leaders every day.

1) Support from Senior Leadership

Ensuring that senior leadership supports change of any kind is the first step toward seeing any potential difference in the work environment. Many attendees of the Forum likened the relationship between teachers and students to that of bosses and employees. Historically, male bosses have viewed their female colleagues as subordinates instead of as potential leaders. Looking through that lens, how are women ever going to be regarded as the leaders? The first states that organizations should integrate gender equality into their company-wide goals and should also ensure that company policies and culture actively work toward equality and inclusion. Regardless if one is a woman or a man (but especially if you are a man) in a senior leadership position, it is important to support the success of your employees equally. If senior leaders do not show that equality and inclusion are a priority to them, the rest of the organization will, unfortunately, follow suit. At The Ritz-Carlton, our commitment to diversity is articulated primarily in our Employee Promise. Furthermore, the Employee Promise, Motto and our Key Success Factors (company-wide goals) explicitly speak about our values and goals with regard to both “Ladies and Gentlemen,” avoiding vague or masculine-tilted language, which the UN also cautions against in the second Women’s Empowerment Principle. Finally, the UN does provide training resources to help your employees advance gender equality in the workplace.

2) Mentoring

It is already known that mentorship supports employee engagement and employee retention; however, women have historically not had the same access to mentors as men. In a book talk by Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In, Ms. Sandberg suggests that male executives might feel uncomfortable forging a mentoring relationship with a female colleague because they want to ensure they maintain a professional image. In other words, they avoid one-on-one time with female colleagues to avoid looking like they are having an affair. With this in mind, it is once again up to senior leaders to demonstrate that ladies and gentlemen alike can be each other’s mentors and mentees in a way that is professional and productive. Mr. Bob Kharazmi, Global Officer, Worldwide Operations for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C., articulates the idea that it’s about all employees, not just men: “The first and most important priority for a leader is his or her people. No matter where we want to go—no matter what our belief is—no matter what our destination is—we are not going to go alone. We are going with our employees, our Ladies and Gentlemen … We have to take time to spend one-on-one time—either in person or over the phone. We have to make sure that we are staying in touch with them.”

3) Education and Training

Daniela Ligiero, Vice President of Girls and Women Strategy, United Nations Foundation, identified time as one the largest barriers to empowerment for women across the globe. Most women bear greater responsibility for taking care of their homes and family than men do, which limits the amount of time outside their workday that women have to learn and grow. Although a company may not be able to affect how their female employees’ home life works, the company can provide more opportunities for training and development that can occur during the workday. Many organizations have their own internal learning platforms that they can highlight to support women’s leadership development, decision-making skills or any other topics that are particularly in demand from female employees. Even if your organization does not have this kind of infrastructure, several external organizations such as universities and edX offer such services at low or no cost. How do you determine what your female employees want to learn? According to the UN, one company took it upon themselves to form a committee to identify challenges for women in the workplace and address those challenges by providing training and other programming for women in their company.

4) Volunteering

Just as the ladies should be given greater ability to learn, they should also be given the opportunity to teach the skills they have. “We believe that when our employees share their skills, knowledge and experience to inspire young students,” said Mr. Humler, “they teach the importance of social skills, positivity, collaboration and having a clear vision for a successful future.” This can be particularly valuable if female employees share skills that are not traditionally associated with women such as data analysis or coding. When young girls have the opportunity to see women work and lead in a variety of fields, it shows that the possibilities are endless. Two examples of organizations supporting women sharing their skills include Girls Who Code and WomenOnCall.

By implementing measures to better empower women in the workplace, organizations can improve their engagement as well as support women’s ability to excel in their jobs. Companies can set a new precedent for gender equality that not only affects the workplace, but also society in general. 

Our Enrichment Courses immerse clients in The Ritz-Carlton ambience while offering philosophical and tactical service excellence knowledge. Please visit our Course Calendar to learn more about our upcoming courses and to register. 

Significant Stat: Sharing Experiences

58% are more likely to tell others about their customer services experiences today than they were five years ago. (source)

Advice from Jennifer Blackmon, Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

The customer service story of the past used to sound something like this: one customer has an experience with your brand, and that person tells 10 people, who tell 10 people, and so on and so on. However, in today’s hyper-connected society, reporting on customer service has increased exponentially. One customer can now post an online review or share a customer experience on social media and reach thousands of people with very little effort. The smartphone is with us everywhere we go. Not only does this make it quick and easy for us to share our thoughts globally, we have also changed how we feel about sharing our thoughts. We’ve moved to taking personal responsibility for alerting our “friends” to the latest trends, great deals or wonderful experiences that we encounter along the way. Because customers are so quick to broadcast their likes and dislikes, organizations should realize the importance of providing excellent customer service and sincere customer engagement. 

Our Enrichment Courses immerse clients in The Ritz-Carlton ambience while offering philosophical and tactical service excellence knowledge. Please visit our Course Calendar to learn more about our upcoming courses and to register. 

Etiquette & Engagement: Prepared

Imagine if every person acted like a lady or gentleman…..

Etiquette Tip: Ladies and gentlemen are prepared when attending a meeting.

The purpose of most meetings is teamwork, communication and forward momentum. When you’re unprepared for meetings, you slow down the process. Ladies and gentlemen do not keep colleagues waiting while they run back to their office for their notes or race to the copy machine to make extra copies of the agenda. You should arrive at your meeting with any necessary resources—laptop, pen, paper, handouts, etc. You should also complete any “homework” prior to a meeting. When people have not completed their pre-meeting tasks, forward momentum becomes more difficult and in some cases—impossible. Your team may not have the data to make important decisions, or worse yet, your team moves forward and makes decisions—without critical information—in order to stick to a pre-determined time frame. When you’re unprepared for a meeting, you risk holding everyone else back. At The Ritz-Carlton, our colleagues are our internal guests, and our employees—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen—strive to “create a work environment of teamwork.” Being prepared for meetings strengthens teamwork, shows respect for your colleagues’ time and sets the team up for greater success. 

Our Enrichment Courses immerse clients in The Ritz-Carlton ambience while offering philosophical and tactical service excellence knowledge. Please visit our Course Calendar to learn more about our upcoming courses and to register. 

Significant Stat: Expectations at Work

Only about half of all employees know what’s expected of them at work. (source)

Advice from Alexandra Valentin, Corporate Director, Culture Transformation at The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center:

Employees cannot be successful if they don’t understand your organization’s mission and brand promise. Job descriptions are not enough. A checklist of tasks does not show employees how they are connected to a larger purpose within your organization. Leaders need to share their vision and help employees understand expectations at work and how their role supports the organization. The Employee Promise at The Ritz-Carlton states that our employees—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen—“are the most important resource in our service commitment to our guest.” To provide service excellence, our Ladies and Gentlemen must know the purpose of our brand, as well as the function of their job. When employees understand how their role impacts your organization’s mission, then their day-to-day work takes on greater significance. They are more inspired because they know what is expected and perceive what truly matters. Most importantly, employees with a strong sense of purpose can handle obstacles with a positive attitude, will worry less, and live happier lives. 

Our Enrichment Courses immerse clients in The Ritz-Carlton ambience while offering philosophical and tactical service excellence knowledge. Please visit our Course Calendar to learn more about our upcoming courses and to register. 

Etiquette & Engagement: Professional

Imagine if every person acted like a lady or gentleman…..

Etiquette Tip: Ladies and gentlemen are professional when communicating by email.

Although your co-workers might have a good sense of humor, it’s important to remember that there are limitations to what is appropriate. This is especially important when considering email, as your colleagues are using this medium to maintain important information and client relationships. With that in mind, think twice before sharing a video or article you think is amusing since not everyone finds the same things funny. You want to ensure everything you put in writing or share online is respectful of different cultures, family types, etc. Political messages can be particularly polarizing, so avoiding this area altogether is advised. You may feel passionately about an issue, but your propaganda should not enter the workplace. There might be opportunities to spend time with your colleagues and engage in discussion on topics beyond the scope of your work; however, work email is not the place to do that. Ladies and gentlemen are always cognizant of how they carry themselves in person and e-decorum should match. 

Our Enrichment Courses immerse clients in The Ritz-Carlton ambience while offering philosophical and tactical service excellence knowledge. Please visit our Course Calendar to learn more about our upcoming courses and to register. 

Etiquette & Engagement: Honorable

Imagine if every person acted like a lady or gentleman…..

Etiquette Tip: Ladies and gentlemen are always honorable when in a leadership role.

Leaders often display extraordinary talent, courage or ability, and because of their success, we trust them. We even strive to emulate them. Leaders serve as role models, and therefore, it’s important that they act with integrity. Their actions should demonstrate to others the moral principles that are at the foundation of good leadership. Of course, leaders are people, and like everyone else, they will make mistakes. Leaders need to be allowed to make honest mistakes—to take risks and learn from experience. However, when their mistakes involve dishonesty, leaders jeopardize not only their reputation, but also the reputation of their entire organization. A lady or gentleman should never sacrifice honor in order to achieve a goal. Through our Employee Promise, The Ritz-Carlton encourages all of our staff—known as our Ladies and Gentlemen—to apply “the principles of trust, honesty, respect, integrity and commitment.” Part of leadership is mentoring and bringing out the best in others, and this is only possible when a leader is truly trustworthy. 

The motto of The Ritz-Carlton is “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.” This motto sets a tone of goodwill and grace for all.

DOs and DON’Ts of Enlivening Organizational Culture

The above infographic, “DOs and DON’Ts of Enlivening Organizational Culture,” is based on a previous blog post. If you would like a printable pdf of this infographic, please email us

The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center offers advisory services, courses and presentations to organizations that wish to benchmark the award-winning business practices of The Ritz-Carlton. Your organization can learn about The Ritz-Carlton methodology for customer service, employee engagement and leadership development. We also guide organizations through a multi-step process in order to achieve sustainable culture transformation.