Article: Solving the employee engagement puzzle in hospitality

Employee Relations

Solving the employee engagement puzzle in hospitality

In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Arif Khan, Director of Human Resources India, Hyatt Hotels and Resorts shares his views on how the hospitality industry is transforming and how crucial it is to create an encouraging environment for employees in this segment.
Solving the employee engagement puzzle in hospitality

What is the most critical challenge when it comes to employee management in the hospitality sector?

The hospitality industry currently witnesses quite a few co-existing challenges – attracting the right talent, retaining them and most importantly shortage of right talent. In fact, the thriving nature of employment avenues like retail and IT further aggravates the shortage of skilled workforce. Further intensifying the challenge is the fact that historically the hospitality industry is characterized by rather long working hours, schedules to match a business that operates 24/7 and 365 days, and the intense work of being in touch with customers pretty much all the time - we can’t simply close the doors of a hotel in the evening, on week-ends or during festivals, as one can imagine. However, it needs to be addressed that while a career in the hospitality industry can be demanding, it is also a highly rewarding one. The industry provides great career and development opportunities, as many companies in this industry are interested to develop talent from within. 

How is the role of the human resource department transforming in the hospitality sector?

Human resources as a function in hospitality has begun to pay more heed to an individual’s personality and attitude, rather than abiding solely by their qualifications. It is all about identifying the right kind of talent, which can fortify the overall productivity and purpose of an organization. Corporate HR strategies have evolved over the years. People strategy is all about creating organizational capabilities needed to grow stronger as purpose-led organizations in the near future. These capabilities include world-class leadership, customer centricity, adaptability accountability, and inclusion. Taking this into consideration and examining its impact on the role of HR at a hotel-level, the shift becomes very clear – we must reduce our less impactful, administrative and repetitive tasks, in order to create more space for value-adding work in the areas of coaching, facilitating and mentoring. This will enable the HR team to become change agents within the organization. 

In your opinion, how can hospitality giants create an encouraging environment for employees?

Our value chain is easy: having engaged and motivated employees results in better customer connectivity, which impacts guest loyalty and in return our business overall. We believe, that for work to be motivating for colleagues, it has to have both meaning and engagement. Meaning means that colleagues can have a way to serve a larger purpose by connecting their own purpose to the organization’s purpose. Engagement means giving colleagues the opportunity to do what they do best, which means on one side providing them enough challenge in their roles, but at the same time help them develop their skills and knowledge. It’s this ideal balance of challenge and skills that is called ‘flow’. And we have to make sure that work can be both meaningful and engaging for everybody.

Does engaging staff in extracurricular activities help them?

Engaging colleagues in activities that bring meaning and engagement to their work is a win-win opportunity for both the employee as well as for the company. Helping them discover their own purpose, and letting them do things that are truly meaningful to them is a powerful approach towards creating a healthy work environment. Extracurricular activities such as community engagement, teaching, and sports coaching equip employees with true leadership skills.

What role does technology play in enabling employee engagement and creating a ‘wow’ employee experience? 

We often say ‘technology makes a bad process consistent’. We must ensure that all basic processes are creating and sustaining an exceptional employee experience. Technology must be used to ‘scale care’ and make interactions with colleagues more fluid, effective, and seamless. This includes access to respective personal information, schedules, vacation planning, training and development workshops, learning libraries, performance diaries, career maps, and internal communication materials. Committed to engaging in such transformational measures in the future, we must recognise that we are entering into a new era of human-machine partnership, the potential of which we must utilise to the fullest while staying true to our purpose.

As part of Hyatt Thrive, Hyatt conducts several activities and initiatives. How have these initiatives helped in building employee engagement?

At Hyatt, we induce a strong sentiment of engagement amongst our employees by assigning challenges that urge them to utilize the maximum potential of their skill sets. This approach enables high participation, whilst honing their skills and knowledge. This entire process culminates into a highly encouraging environment for employees, thereby allowing them to maintain a healthy attitude towards work. We serve a very noble purpose: Care for People so They Can Be Their Best. We actualize this purpose by gaining transparency and trust with our colleagues through powerful attributes like empathy, compassion, and understanding.

Our CSR programme, Hyatt Thrive, gives our colleagues the opportunity to care not only about our customers and other colleagues but also about the community and environment. During our Global Month of Service this year, colleagues in India invested more than 10,000 hours of fruitful community service across India. It was incredible to see various Thrive teams from across all our hotels come together and exhibit their passion and commitment towards the noble cause. Following this successful participation, it was established that our employees hold immense potential to lead a change, thus making them true ambassadors of Hyatt’s prime purpose of ‘care’.

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Topics: Employee Relations, Employee Engagement, #EmployeeEngagementIdeas

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