Getting Off to Work



 Off to Work sponsors Candidate Experience category at 2017 People Awards

“We really wanted to sponsor the Candidate Experience category because that’s what we’re all about – providing a really great candidate experience.” – Rosina Bucknall, Director of Specialisms at Off to Work.

Off to Work challenge the concept of the ‘traditional recruitment agency’ and we are delighted to welcome them as sponsors of the Candidate Experience category in the 2017 People Awards.

Kathy Dyball, Head of Marketing for said, “We’ve always been huge fans of Off to Work. Their exciting working methods and unparalleled training programmes are an inspiration in the hospitality industry and we’re so pleased to have them as a sponsor at our People Awards.”

Off to Work began as the brainchild of Philip Atkins, Managing Director. Using his wealth of experience in catering and events management, Philip decided to create a new agency that deliberately set itself apart from the competition. “He created a brand and a business that takes pride in its teams and service standards.” said Rosina Bucknall, “Our ethos revolves around finding passionate team members to enable amazing experiences for our clients.”

Off to Work has always been an innovative market leader and was one of the first agencies to adopt candidate selection and online booking systems. “The way that our candidates are trained and upskilled is unlike anything else in the industry,” Rosina said. “The calibre of our team members is phenomenal and we invest a lot of time into training and developing them.” Off to Work supply staff for all areas of hospitality, including Goodwood, Royal Ascot, concerts and celebrity weddings, as well as catering teams for restaurants, hotels and cafes with specialist divisions in each sector.

Off to Work’s motto is “Enabling Amazing Experiences”. This applies, not only to clients, but to team members too. Development and progression are key. If a team member joins on a casual basis, they are offered the chance to grow in the role and to progress through the ranks. Off to Work runs a unique, dedicated training facility in Camden, as well as a banqueting venue which is also run as a commercial enterprise with their sister brand, Sliced Events. All front and back of house staff from the Off to Work casual team go through a vigorous training programme. Anthony Gardner-Sharp from Off to Work’s Marketing Team says, “We are always working on our brand image and improving the candidate experience for our team. We recently launched our bespoke app which allows team members to easily search and book shifts, and allows clients to easily request their favourite staff and complete timesheets via the app.”

Rosina feels that it is the company culture that really sets Off to Work apart from the rest. “Team members are treated as people and not as a commodity.” She explains. “Every year we hold a Staff Awards event which is really important to the staff as it recognises their hard work and celebrates their achievements. We have several categories including chef of the year, waiter of the year, most improved team member and even most charismatic! Our team members actually feel like part of the company, not just casual agency staff. Ultimately, if they don’t feel valued, they’re not going to do a good job. It all begins with our people.”

The Candidate Experience award recognises programmes and initiatives that successfully and imaginatively engage with candidates from application, on-boarding and beyond. Last year’s award went to Firmdale Hotels and this year’s shortlist showcases three amazing entries from AccorHotels, National Theatre – Commercial Operations Department and YO! Sushi.

“We’re so happy to be sponsoring this category in the 2017 People Awards,” Rosina said. “We very rarely partner with other organisations, but we’ve worked with for a long time and are great admirers of what they do. People Awards are renowned throughout the industry. Ultimately, the awards are about recognising talent, showcasing fantastic initiatives and as the title suggests, they’re about people.”

The 2017 People Awards take place on October 5th at the stunning Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, where the great and the good of UK hospitality employment will gather to celebrate the very best programmes in recruitment, retention and development. Tables for this fabulous evening are still available by contacting See you there.






Peoplebank get On-board

 Peoplebank sponsor the On-boarding category at the 2017 People Awards

“First impressions count. Whether the target audience is your direct customer, or the customer of your HR and recruitment teams, your brand needs to be strong and consistent” says David Beveridge, Client Services & Sales Manager at the multi award-winning Peoplebank. It happens to be a view that we share at, so it may come as no surprise that Peoplebank are sponsoring the On-boarding Programme category at this year’s People Awards, and we couldn’t be happier. Kathy Dyball, Head of Marketing for said, “With a quarter of a century of experience behind them, we are very excited to welcome Peoplebank to our People Awards. Their innovative and forward-thinking approach to recruitment makes them the perfect match for this very special event.”

Peoplebank began as a recruitment agency in 1991, but it wasn’t long before they felt a change was coming. “We had heard about this new-fangled technology called the internet,” said David Beveridge. ”We decided that online would be game changing in the recruitment and management of new staff, and guess what? We were right!” In 1994 they launched

“We have helped hundreds of companies; big and small, and from all walks of industry see the light when it comes to the benefits and savings they can make simply by tweaking a few things here and there,” David explained. In 2007 PeopleBank became part of a new family and were welcomed with open arms into the Daxtra Technologies Group. David said, “These guys are market leaders in CV and job parsing software as well as semantic search, matching and aggregation technologies.”

In terms of services offered, David elaborated, “We are big enough to be capable of dealing with some of the biggest brands in the world, yet small enough to be different and to care. We offer a candidate attraction and candidate management solution. Our services range from design and build of complete candidate experiences –  application forms, job adverts, careers sites – through to the complete collating, ranking and processing of candidates applications throughout the whole recruitment process.”

By using their award winning software, Peoplebank streamline time consuming recruitment processes and create bespoke, tailored solutions to save clients money and time and  attract the best talent. David said, “We’re very proud of our hugely adaptable system. It’s able to integrate with existing CRMs, payroll, job boards and most 3rd party software.

“We are a company that is passionate about partnering businesses. We’re based in Edinburgh, but we work worldwide. We like to think that we’re a friendly, dynamic business and we love to help and support in any way we can.”

Applicants and candidates for hospitality roles are now savvier than ever. It’s important for employers to be on top of their game in order to stay one step ahead. “Candidates want to know your company’s DNA,” said David Beveridge. “That’s why with a customised recruitment solution, you can deliver on-brand advertising covering careers sites, job adverts and candidate applications.”

Fully-fledged Career and Candidate Portals are a key first step in engaging with potential employees particularly in the hospitality sector. “We help companies the length and breadth of the UK engage with candidates,” said David. “Whether that be creating a careers site for Virgin Trains East Coast or building a customised application form for GLH or creating amazing adverts for Sofitel St James.

“Our ability to incorporate and offer this element of the recruitment process in such a bespoke and flexible nature, we feel really sets us apart.”

This year’s shortlist for the On-boarding category features eight top employers: Aqua Restaurant Group, Devonshire Hotels & Restaurants, Dishoom, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, LEON Restaurants Ltd., Novotel London Canary Wharf, The Doyle Collection and Z Hotels. Last year’s winner was the National Theatre with an inspiring entry. On winning, Geraldine McCormick, HR Advisor for Commercial Operations at The National Theatre said, “We feel extremely honoured and excited that we have been recognised by the Catering and Hospitality Industry for a programme of which we are very proud. Being recognised by is such a privilege for us. We are oozing with pride!”

David Beveridge feels that recognising and rewarding employer initiatives is very important. “We are excited to be sponsoring the On-boarding category, we can’t wait to find out the final result and we would like to wish all the shortlisted employers good luck.

“ are huge in the industry and at Peoplebank we are keen to work with, sponsor and support the best companies. We see this as a great opportunity to be at such an event that will help us build our brand and showcase what Peoplebank do, on one of the best platforms around.”

The 2017 People Awards will take place at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge on October 5th. 500 industry leaders will be in attendance, so join them at the hospitality event of the year. Tables are still available by contacting





Looking for a Rising Star

HR in Hospitality’s Rising Star Award

“We are looking for that Rising Star, the one to watch, somebody who will be a future Leader,” says Esther O’Halloran, Chair of HR in Hospitality. “Our aim is to encourage HR professionals to grow their career and stay in hospitality.”

Having been in existence for 22 years and re-launched in its current form in 2009, HR in Hospitality works to provide a forum for HR professionals within the hospitality sector by acting as a central hub for the industry. A Human Resources role is a constantly evolving one, so apart from organising various social and networking events throughout the year, HR in Hospitality offers valuable discussions and talks and the opportunity to share knowledge and experience. These are especially useful to newcomers to hospitality HR, who the association is keen to help and encourage.

The highlight of the HR in Hospitality year is undoubtedly their annual awards evening which celebrates and rewards teams and individuals for excellence in hospitality HR. Categories include Excellence in promoting careers, talent attraction and Employee Engagement. Sponsored by, one of the top awards of the evening is the Rising Star Award.

“We have always been on the look-out for future talent,” explains Esther O’Halloran. “In the past, the Rising Star award winner just got the trophy and recognition but for the last few years have been really generous with awarding a scholarship to further encourage personal development, skills and credibility in the profession and sector.”

The winner of the Rising Star award will also receive a scholarship for their development from “They are on a career development path where their contribution to the HR team is really making a difference,” Esther continues. “This person may be in any role within the HR team, but you can see their potential through their skills, the way they work and the results they are achieving.”  Entrants can self-nominate or be entered by their organisation. Ideally they need to have worked in HR for at least two years but not necessarily in their current position within the team. Testimonial statements from the HR Director or other managers can be submitted in support of this entry. The winner of this award will also receive the scholarship to use towards developing their personal HR training or qualifications.

In finding a suitable winner, judges take into account how the nominee contributed to the success of the performance of the HR department, what has been the nominee’s personnel development plan, achievements in their career so far and what will be the benefit to them and the organisation in winning this award.

Esther says that the HR in Hospitality Rising Star Award is of enormous benefit to the winner. “It provides recognition from peers and industry colleagues, it’s a real confidence boost and it’s a great opportunity to invest in personal development. We hope that winning the award will encourage loyalty to remain and develop a career in hospitality.”

One recent winner is Natasha Wiggins from Red Carnation Hotels. Of her win, Natasha said, “Winning the award and receiving the scholarship was a brilliant way to build my skills and areas of expertise. I was able to complete the National Certificate in Workplace Mediation. It was a fantastic course that allowed me to learn new skills and will enable me to offer an extra layer of support to the business.”

We will discover just who will walk away with the 2017 Rising Star Award when the HR in Hospitality Awards take place at the Rosewood Hotel on September 29th. It promises to be a special evening and a fantastic chance to network and hear about the great work being done in hospitality human resources.

CORE Values

COREcruitment sponsors the 2017 People Awards

Continuing a strong and fruitful relationship, is pleased to announce that COREcruitment will be sponsoring the Leadership in Recruitment, Development and Retention category at the 2017 People Awards. Head of Marketing, Kathy Dyball said, “We are so happy to welcome back COREcruitment to our People Awards family. Their experience and integrity, especially in hospitality recruitment, brings a tangible cache to these very special awards, and we thank them for their continued support”

COREcruitment was established in 2005 with their London HQ. “We have grown extensively since then,” said Managing Director, Krishnan Doyle. “We now have a team of 42 consultants in the UK, South Africa, Dubai, Holland, Bangkok, North America and France. Our primary focus was originally on hospitality, but we now recruit for roles within Facilities Management, Head Office, Finance, Leisure & Fitness and Retail, Property and have a specialist team covering technology and marketing.

COREcruitment’s business ethos is underpinned by three guiding principles: Integrity, efficiency and transparency. “We pride ourselves on providing a bespoke and smooth recruitment process for both our clients and candidates,” Krishnan Doyle said. “All of our consultants focus on different sectors and all of them have previously worked in the sector they now recruit for – usually at management level. This means that they know what they’re talking about and can recognise the best candidates.”

The presentation of the Leadership in Recruitment, Retention and Development award is one of the highlights of the awards evening and was won last year by Durham University Catering Department. With an unmatched entry, Durham demonstrated innovation and perseverance by completely overhauling their recruitment process. They overcame opposition from internal quarters and restructured the written application shortlisting process for entry level vacancies by completely removing it in order to increase the amount of talent at interview stage. They also replaced the formal panel style interview with a ‘speed dating’ style interview process, during which up to 42 applicants moved around mini management panels, where positive behaviour is scored using standard questions and a simple work related tasks. In addition they fought back against stereotypes to reinvent their employer brand and introduced training placements at Michelin starred restaurants and food exploration trips in Asia.

Krishnan Doyle concluded, “Hospitality is a great sector where companies have a genuine interest and appreciation of their competitors. People Awards celebrate this sector and its achievements and in my opinion are vital.”

The 2017 People Awards take place on October 5th at the beautiful Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge. Tickets are now available, so join us as we celebrate the hard work of your teams and this fabulous industry. Book by contacting People Awards 2017 shortlists announced!

From global greats to fresh new brands,

hospitality employers set new standards to attract and retain the talent they need

The UK Hospitality sector is the envy of the world, and rightly so. One of the UK’s biggest employers, the hospitality industry provides jobs to seven percent of the working population. This ever evolving, thriving sector has a constant demand for employees at all levels, and companies work hard to recruit the right people, develop their skills and retain their valuable experience.

Besides the uncertainty of Brexit, the biggest problem facing hospitality employers is without doubt the ongoing skills shortage, which is widely estimated to be reaching crisis level. Companies must now focus, invest and innovate to attract and retain the talent they so desperately need. That’s why the team at, the largest and most successful UK hospitality job board, are proud to celebrate the finest hospitality employer initiatives in recruitment, development and retention through our People Awards.

This year we were absolutely inundated with entries from employers of all sizes, from all sectors and regions of the UK, representing the wealth of fantastic work that goes on to engage hospitality talent at every stage. Our panels of judges had a serious task on their hands to whittle these entries down to shortlists and winners, but judging has now taken place and is thrilled to announce the shortlist for the 2017 People Awards.

Our shortlist this year includes a huge range of employers representing the true diversity of this wonderful industry, including Hilton Worldwide, Compass Group, Rezidor Hotels, Green King, YO! Sushi, LEON Restaurants, Dishoom, National Theatre, Sodexo – Ascot Racecourse, POD Food, Reds True Barbecue, Liverpool FC and Brewhouse & Kitchen.

To be held at the Park Plaza Westminster, London on October 5th, the awards ceremony promises to be an exhilarating night celebrating the continual evolution and improvement of hospitality recruitment, retention and development. The awards are headline sponsored by Octane HR Solutions, and category sponsors include Admiral Recruitment, CORE Recruitment, Off to Work, People Bank and Talent Hive.

Winners will be announced across 13 categories: Employee Engagement Programme, Employer Brand Campaign, Rewards and Benefits Initiatives, Learning & Development, On-Boarding Programme, Emerging Talent Initiative, Candidate Experience, Launch Campaign, Diversity, HR Team, In-House Recruitment Team, Leadership in Recruitment, Retention and Development and the special Ambassador to The Industry Award. The shortlist in full can be found here.

Our People Awards are an essential date for employers and recruiters in the hospitality industry events calendar and table booking is now open. Bring your teams, and join us along with 500 of your industry peers for a wonderful three-course dinner, wine, entertainment and an evening of celebration toasting the hard work of hospitality employers. The 2017 People Awards will be hosted by the hilarious Katherine Ryan, so it’s sure to be a night to remember. Event details can be found here and you can make your booking via

Congratulations to all the shortlisted employers! We look forward to seeing you at the event on October 5th.

We welcome Octane HR Solutions as Headline Sponsor for the 2017 People Awards


We are delighted to announce that Octane HR Solutions will be headline sponsor for the 2017 People Awards. is the largest and most successful board for hospitality jobs in the UK and our partnership with Octane HR Solutions is very exciting news. Why? Because as creators of award winning ATS and Engagement platforms, Octane HR Solutions understand the talent recruitment and retention challenges our community face.

Nick Meads, Co-Founder of Octane said, “ People Awards celebrate the finest employer initiatives and innovations in hospitality recruitment, retention and development. It is a great honour to be the headline sponsor of this prestigious event.”

Kathy Dyball, Head of Marketing for commented, “Octane HR Solutions are a fantastic match as headline sponsors for our People Awards 2017. Our awards celebrate the innovative ways in which hospitality employers have tackled their recruitment challenges – and that’s exactly what Octane HR Solutions help employers achieve.

The Octane team have a great vibrancy about them which we love, and many of our clients already use their systems to support their hiring. Octane are adding some fabulous elements to the awards event too. They’re real innovators and we’re delighted to have them as our headline sponsors this year!”

Market disrupters, Octane’s foundations lie in more than just software development. Nick comments, “Our commercial success started in brand and design, and so a creative perspective has always underpinned our solutions.

As well as our in-house tribe of technical geeks, you’ll find a tribe of creative devotees ensuring our products are a joy to intuitively use and manage, day in day out. We call it the Octane voodoo mix.”

An established market leader in recruitment and engagement platforms, Octane HR Solutions has carved out a reputation for customising their solutions to meet client needs, not the other way around.

“We build ATS, talent management systems, candidate career portals and employee engagement platforms, each tailor-made by our clients,” Nick explained. “We have years of digital experience and a lot of creative oomph. We’ve developed and honed agile software to help reduce time in hiring and recruiting the right candidates and improve communication within a corporate environment.” Octane believe that their solutions are simple, intuitive and fast and offer clients a fresh approach to recruitment, unfettered by high operating costs.

Octane’s ATS systems are of particular interest to employers working within hospitality. “An Applicant Tracking System allows recruiters to organise and manage their process when they’re dealing with numerous employees and locations,” Nick said.  “It enables the business to streamline the recruitment process saving time and money. It continuously feeds the candidate pipeline to fill positions, while building a database of candidates so that you are never unable to fill positions.  Importantly it fills positions with the right candidates.”

Communications are drafted in the employer brand’s tone of voice for a truly unique candidate experience. The system ensures that every applicant is contacted, thus heightening that candidate experience. Nick said, “Employers and recruiters can benefit by huge time and cost savings; our system can do in minutes what a hiring manager would take to do in a day.”

Of their involvement with this year’s awards, Nick said, “This is a match made in heaven! We pride ourselves on providing innovative recruitment solutions to the hospitality industry so our sponsorship of the 2017 People Awards couldn’t be more pertinent.

Octane HR Solutions has worked with StepStone UK on the integration of all job boards, being a key board for our portfolio of hospitality clients. It is a pleasure to work with the team at and through this partnership, we look forward to further solidifying our relationship.”

Tierney Fox, co-founder of Octane HR Solutions said, “As established industry suppliers, we’ve long appreciated the ingenuity and resourcefulness required to recruit, train and engage today’s socially connected work force. As a benchmark for industry quality and innovation, we’re genuine fans of People Awards, and we’re delighted to be this year’s headline sponsor. It’s the perfect opportunity to rub shoulders with the brightest names in our thriving sector and for leading employers to win one of 13 commercially credible recruitment and retention accolades. We can’t wait to say hello in person on the night.”

The 2017 People Awards take place on October 5th at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge and tickets are available now.


Innovative now, sustainable long term

We meet Marco Reick, People Director at Leon Restaurants and judge of our People Awards 2017

“ People Awards are so important as a bench mark in this industry,” said Marco Reick, People Director at Leon. “As an industry, we all have to work towards making the sector one of choice, one where people choose to come for a career. That only works if we all become better and better and better as employers.”

Marco Reick is having an impressive career. One of judges for the 2017 People Awards, Marco moved to the UK from Germany in 2003, he entered the hospitality industry and has never looked back. He joined The Restaurant Group in 2007 and helped grow and shape the company as Head of Recruitment; “When I started at TRG, there were 260 restaurants and when I left they had 450. So with that rapid growth, we had recruit from across the country in a tough market.” Marco also nurtured TRG’s development programme, creating their first graduate scheme, which afforded newcomers to the industry the chance to rise to a General Manager position in just 18 months.

In 2013, after more than six successful years at The Restaurant Group, Marco went on to join the fledgling Bill’s, where the situation couldn’t have been more different. “Bill’s, at the time, was very small in comparison to TRG,” explains Marco. “We opened more than 20 sites every year that I was there. There was huge expansion, very intense, but a real joy to be involved in such a success story at that time. Their environment was very entrepreneurial and very creative.”

With more and more employers realising the importance of company culture, Marco, last year, entered into talks with Leon co-founder John Vincent about a project role but “Within two days, it turned into a permanent role,” he said.

According to Marco Reick, the industry is facing ‘significant headwinds’. “As a sector, the supply in the pipeline of people is our biggest challenge. We saw a small decline in applications after the Brexit vote, but that quickly flattened out. Regardless, we are concentrating on retention. We’ve found there are many people leaving the UK and their jobs in hospitality to head back to their homes in Europe and this is worrying. The government stating that those already here can stay has given us and our hard working team members some reassurance, for now. But what happens after Brexit in terms of our future talent pipeline remains a mystery, we need much better answers from the government.”

Marco is pleased with what he and his team have achieved so far. “At Leon, it’s our mission to enable people to eat well and to live well,” he said. “It’s true for customers, but just as true for our team members.” Naturally, all Leon employees get their lunch and dinner free, but Rewards and Benefits go way beyond that. “We support our team members in ways they probably couldn’t imagine. We have a well-being team. We take this very seriously, we want everybody who works at Leon to be physically fit and active and we want them to have a balanced life. We have regular events throughout the year, we have running clubs, sports days, well-being days in East Sussex where we have different activities available, therapies, massages, reflexology etc.” Also available to all employees is Leon’s wellbeing space known as The Kwoon; an all-day gym where staff can drop in and take training sessions free of charge, and although there are professional instructors, The Kwoon is primarily for Leon team members by Leon team members. Marco explains, “Whatever talent you might have, we try to capture that and allow you to share that talent with other team members. we want you to express yourself. There might be a barista in one of our restaurants who may also be a qualified yoga instructor. We encourage that person to teach their class in our wellbeing space. Your colleagues get a lesson for free and you get paid for doing it.” Every month there are up to 200 Leon team members using The Kwoon.  It’s been a huge success, but it doesn’t end there.

When Leon opened their Shaftesbury Avenue restaurant, deep in the heart of London’s theatre district, they wanted to fit in with the neighbourhood. “We thought, let’s make it a musical theatre-themed restaurant and let’s make our team members the stars. At certain times of day, songs are performed live by the team,” Marco can’t help but smile as he explains. “They are all singers, some are musicals singers, some are in bands, some are session singers. The thing that brings them together is that they all need to pay the bills. They could work as a barista or a waiter anywhere. The thing that Leon offers is the chance to do that – and sing.” All team members in the Shaftesbury Avenue restaurant wear shirts with their names on their backs “just in case a West End Producer pops in for lunch.” Leon liaises with the local theatre community and wants their staff to be discovered, “staff turnover for that restaurant is taken out of the equation,” Marco said, “but we find that our team members keep coming back to us after having left to do a show”.

Marco Reick is excited about this year’s People Awards. He is passionate about the hospitality industry and is pleased that the awards are there. “They act as a forum,” he said “where all the great work that hospitality employers are doing can be showcased. I’m looking forward to seeing entries from companies that do things differently, employers who put people first. We need innovation in order to survive as an industry, but innovation needs to be sustainable. I believe that all the entries can act to attract new blood, new talent to hospitality, and we need it now more than ever.”

Entries for the 2017 People Awards will close on July 10th. Judging will take place on July 19th with the shortlist announced soon after. The glamorous awards evening happens on October 5th at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, tables are available now. Contact for more details.

Calling all Hospitality Employers! People Awards deadline extended

We’re delighted to say that the deadline for entries for the 2017 People Awards has been extended to July 10th, so you have a few extra days to showcase your exciting, innovative and successful initiatives and programmes in recruiting, retaining and developing top talent.

Our People Awards celebrate your hard work and ingenuity and are a perfect way to ensure your teams get the recognition they deserve.

Here’s what some of our 2016 winners had to say about the awards:

“We are so excited to have been recognised for such a prestigious award through It’s been very uplifting for our teams to know that the hard work we do is valued so highly both within and outside of our organisation.”

Dawn Vermeire, HR Director, Jumeirah Hotels. Winner of People Awards 2016 Rewards & Benefits category:

“We feel extremely honoured and excited that we have been recognised by the Catering and Hospitality Industry. We are oozing with pride.”

Geraldine McCormick, HR Advisor for Commercial Operations, National Theatre. Winner of People Awards 2016 On-Boarding category.

“Honestly, we’re over the moon. This award is testament to the effort and commitment of so many team members.”

Brian Trollip, Operations Director, Dishoom. Winner of People Awards 2016 Learning & Development category.

Entry is free and simple to complete online. There are 13 categories and you can enter as many you wish. Entries are welcomed from all UK hospitality employers from hotels, restaurants, pubs, bars and food service providers.

If you’ve made an exciting breakthrough in your recruitment process, we look forward to hearing from you.

Enter now.


Culture, branding and personality

Byron Hamburgers serve up an impressive win

Calling all hospitality employers! Entries for the 2017 People Awards close on July 3rd so don’t miss out. Start making a noise about the amazing work that you’re doing in the recruitment, development and retention of your incredible workforce.

We spoke to Louise Moneypenny from Byron Hamburgers about their well-deserved win in 2016.

“Culture is extremely important to us at Byron,” said Louise Moneypenny, Recruitment and Talent Manager at Byron. “We are a high culture business where our USP is underpinned by our people and the service they offer.”

As recruiting for personality and culture increasingly becomes the norm, it’s crucial that hospitality employers understand just what this should entail. It’s important to recognise the company culture and how talent will fit and excel within it. Top employers need to discover, identify and effectively communicate their employer brand as a reflection of their values.

Byron Hamburgers, the popular high street chain, were the proud winners of Employer Brand Campaign at the 2016 People Awards. In the past year, the company has made a concerted effort to spread their strong sense of culture right throughout the business. As a fast growing company, it was essential to Byron that they didn’t dilute their cultural intensity by bringing on board people who didn’t 100% buy into their ethos. “The first thing we did was listen,” Louise recalls. “Our People Director conducted focus groups across all levels of the business to really understand what our culture is. It became clear very quickly that it is our culture that makes Byron special and we wanted to share this externally through our employer brand campaign.”

To facilitate their growth plans, Byron had to recruit 220 managers over two years. Their application rates were low and only 89% of their management positions were filled. “Our employee churn was increasing and we had GM vacancies in our flagship restaurants,” Louise explained. “When the new People Director and Recruitment Manager arrived they had to act quickly and we developed an employer branding strategy that covered identifying the top 5 levers of our culture, design recruitment collateral to promote all the great elements of our culture and to develop an internal people plan to reinforce our culture and reengage our teams.”

Also as a result of focus groups, the company defined their ‘Five Byron Behaviours’: Charisma, Detail, Drive, Resilience, and Commerciality. With these behaviours in place, Byron reviewed their recruitment process and created new, structured interview scripts based what they discovered. They also re-structured the process from telephone interview, assessment through to trial.

“We reviewed our job adverts in terms of look, feel and content,” said Louise Moneypenny. “Our adverts did not sell the people and culture side of Byron that our own people felt so strongly about.” They also created new Byron adverts selling the people and fun side of the business.

Byron worked with a creative agency to create their new employer brand. This was based on USPs derived from the focus groups. These involved a better on-boarding process and improved rewards and benefits for employees. Initiatives that were put into place included hiring for behaviour as opposed to skills, a new three day induction programme, free meals for those on shift as well as 50% off for employees when dining with family and friends. Also run out across the company was a programme where the CEO of Byron made himself available to listen to staff. Every quarter, General Managers are invited for dinner with the CEO where concerns can be raised and questions are answers. Likewise for chefs within the company, The Head of Food held similar evenings. The exciting ‘Byron on the Beach’ programme has proved popular, where managers are invited on company funded trips away. Last year, 105 Byron employees went to Barcelona. Importantly, Byron wishes to protect its culture and has been working hard to encourage internal progression throughout the company.

Within the past year, Byron has opened 18 new restaurants and recruited 128 new managers with their total management headcount increasing from 89% to 104%. New and improved job advertising has seen a rise in applications, and 90-day staff turnover has fallen from 45% to 25%. In their last staff survey, 82% of those taking part stated that life had become better at the company.

On winning the award for Employer Brand Campaign, Louise Moneypenny said, “It is amazing to get recognised for the work and results that we have delivered in this area over the last 2 years. Winning this award is also a great way to promote Byron with potential new candidates.”

If you want to be recognised as one of the very best hospitality employers in the UK, get those entries for the 2017 People Awards into us now.

Don’t hesitate to contact our People Awards team with any questions at


Getting a Firmdale grip on Candidate Experience


With an impressive increase in candidate on-boarding and employee retention, Firmdale Hotels won the Candidate Experience award at the 2016 People Awards. “Winning this award has really changed things for us,” said Jessica Berry, Head of Talent at Firmdale Hotels. “We’ve had other companies knocking on our door asking what we’re doing right. We’ve been asked to talk at conferences about our programmes. We shout about our win in all our communications. It’s been a wonderful year.”

Entering the 2017 People Awards is free and easy to complete online. Deadline for entries is 3rd July 2017.

Firmdale Hotels told us more about their winning approach…

“Candidate no-show” is a constant and costly pain for hospitality employers. Applicants dropping out before interview, or accepting a role then failing to turn up on day one is an all too common occurrence.

So, one of the biggest challenges facing any recruitment team is positively engaging with talent from application to on-boarding and beyond. In a skills-short, candidate led market, hospitality employers who can connect with top candidates throughout the process will engage and retain them, before their competitors. By focusing on employer branding, strong use of social channels and a close look at their hiring and on-boarding processes, Firmdale Hotels achieved exciting results.

The challenges Firmdale faced were recruiting in a competitive market, promoting the company name to a wider talent pool and engaging people from the start is what Firmdale is all about. “You may have somebody amazing in front of you,” Jessica explained, “but two days later they get a call from a competitor with another job offer. We wanted to engage with this talent and make them excited about working with us from the very beginning. There is immense competition out there; we’re all fighting for the same great people. Having a brand that people can really buy into and engage with is super-important.”

Creating that strong brand awareness is an important first step in recruitment. “We feel it’s important to align Firmdale’s external brand with our internal one.” Jessica said. Firmdale created the ‘Love What You Do’ campaign which worked to highlight their employer brand. An online video was created in which several Firmdale employees were interviewed to showcase life at the company. The initial video was so popular that it took on a life of its own and served to highlight Firmdale’s five values: Relationships, enthusiasm, attention to detail, resilience and passion. ‘Love What You Do’ has become the core of their recruitment strategy. The video is displayed on Firmdale’s adverts, social channels and their careers website.

To reduce the percentage of candidates who drop out after accepting roles, but before induction and on-boarding, Firmdale endeavoured to increase engagement from the beginning. They redesigned their People and Development office to reflect a Firmdale suite complete with bespoke mannequin to create a ‘Firmdale first impression’.

The recruitment team encouraged the Department Heads themselves to make the call offering successful candidates work, thus building a connection with a new Manager from the very beginning. What is on offer at Firmdale, from its benefits, perks, incentives to the rewards and recognition schemes are communicated at the interview stage with the In-house Recruitment team and the Head of Department on site. Managers also now get in touch with new starters to personally welcome them to the team and arrange their uniform ready for their first day in the department.

Firmdale’s company induction is an immersive experience and is held within one of the Firmdale hotels. The day includes lunch, a show-around, introduction to the culture and values of the company, an explanation of rewards & benefits and a look at the history of Firmdale. The first induction day ends with a one-to-one meeting to discuss any questions and to complete new starter information with a member of the People and Development team.

Firmdale is passionate about building and developing their teams, as Jessica Berry explains, “Our Learning Directory, which is accessible from day one for all team members, details over 100 courses. There are 10 sections, including operational skills and knowledge, service skills, supervisor skills, management development programmes and people management. Last year we launched a Firmdale English language programme for those team members with English as a second language this year developed the programme to provide the team with an accredited language qualification.”

There are 26 Firmdale Managers who deliver departmental inductions for Concierge, Front Office, Housekeeping and Food & Beverage. In addition, 60 department trainers across the group complete new starters’ induction checklists to ensure they are set up for success and receive a quarterly bonus to recognise the impact of their on-job training. The induction process continues throughout the first three months and each inductee is paired with an on-shift buddy. There are four week and three month reviews, providing open and constructive conversations to ensure that they are fully equipped in their roles.

The results have been impressive. On average 80% of candidates seen by in-house recruiters were offered roles by the hotels, last year 96% of those offered roles attended induction and on-boarding with 87% retention year 2015-16. Jessica said that candidate reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. She said, “We are really proud to hear ‘Love What You Do’ being used in conversation and hash-tagged. This has come from the heart of Firmdale’s culture and incorporating our values just shows how much it is the focus of what we do. Being perceived as a great place to work has enhanced our recruitment process and probably made recruiting a little bit easier.”

Entering the 2017 People Awards couldn’t be easier. It’s free and you can enter as many categories as you wish. Make sure your entries reach us by 3rd July 2017. The shortlist will be announced in August. The glamorous awards ceremony will take place on 5th October 2017 at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge.

Don’t hesitate to contact our People Awards team with any questions at




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