Valuing employees - an IHG commitment: Saikat Chatterjee
We have a very clearly defined employer value proposition, which is based on insights that we got from our employees as well as prospective employees outside of our organization. People told us that they look at two things – ’They want to be treated as an individual and be recognized for what they do’. Based on this, we have clearly articulated our value proposition and we call it the IHG Commitment. Our commitment is to give our people ‘room to be yourself’, which means we value the individual passions and talents of our people and we create an environment where they can grow, develop and make a difference. In order to bring our commitment to life, we are making 4 promises for the way we look after our colleagues around the world. We ensure our people have ‘room to be yourself’ by providing ‘room to have a great start’, ‘room to be involved’, ‘room to grow’ and ‘room for you’. We have very clearly defined standards in each of the 4 rooms, which help us deliver our commitment consistently across the world. Through our third party employee engagement surveys, we ask our employees how we are delivering our commitment.
Under ‘room to have a great start’, our key differentiator is the on-boarding program. Depending on the level of the employee, this program can run for a few weeks till even about a year.
As part of delivering ‘room to be involved’, we encourage our people to provide feedback and share their views through independently run employee surveys. Besides this, the whole approach of how we manage our business is that of a bottom-up approach. For example, we have a customer feedback system through which we know how we are doing as a business. Once the reports come out, each functional head or the line manager talks to their team to share the findings of the customer satisfaction survey. They encourage the team to discuss the potential issues and come up with solutions. The best part is that, this is happening at the lowest level in the organization. So, when team members have a say in what can be done in the business, they feel more valued. Another example is how we develop our employees’ engagement activities calendar. We circulate a survey questionnaire asking employees at the end of every year about what activities they would like to see and which ones would add value.
Under ‘room to grow’, we have a variety of talent management tools, but what has really worked well for us is the commitment and involvement of senior people to help employees grow. We have a very robust growth pipeline. We have 10 operating hotels across India and 45 more coming up in the next 5 years, which are in different stages of construction. Because of this growth opportunity, we are fortunate to provide growth opportunities to our people. At the end of the performance management cycle, we identify high potential individuals and make sure each one of them is assigned a coach. Whenever we have senior leaders visiting our hotels, we ensure that these leaders always spend time with our high potential talent which could be over lunch or coffee or drink but definitely in a casual environment. People find it interesting to have the opportunity to interact with such senior leaders. Another people development initiatives of ours is the accelerated general manager development program, where we identity high potential individuals and send then outside the country for exposure. A lot of time and energy is put by each line manager in preparing his succession planning chart at the end of the performance management cycle. This leaves us with a high potential pool of 10-15 percent employees and we need to make sure that we really support these high potential individuals. We have a very interesting program where we get these high potentials together in a room along with the general manager and senior functional heads. We conduct counseling session and the high potential individual has the choice to choose whoever he/she wants to, for seeking career advice on what should be done specifically to grow. We realize that individuals do get enough feedback on areas where they need to develop, but many a times they do not know how to go about it. So, we ensure that each of these high potential talents have a meaningful personal development plan. Every quarter the same group of people meet again with head of HR and the general manager to talk about how they have progressed in their development plan, what are the barriers (if any) that they faced and what support they can get to remove those barriers. It has helped us. For those who are not in this pool, it motivates them to think what they can do differently to become a part of this group. Every time we have a town hall, we have a high potential lounge. All these individuals are recognized by the entire organization. We piloted that in one of our hotels last year and extended that to all our hotels. This is a great example of how we are bringing our ‘room to grow’ promise to life.
Our business demands long working hours and needs passion. We recognize that individuals are different, so it is integral for us to realize how we can leverage the different capabilities and personalities that people have. We take employees’ pictures in their passion through professional photographers. We use these passion photographs for all our collateral and branding within and outside the hotel. It does not matter what your passion and interest is, because we are interested in ‘YOU’. We allow them to practice their passion too and this is under our ‘room for you’ initiative. If we realize that some employees are interested in painting, then we form a group of all those who share the same interest, across our hotels and encourage them to engage in their passion and related competitions are held. The best paintings are then used in the employee canteens or recreation areas.