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In hospitality, every player plays their part



We talk to Geraldine McCormick, HR Advisor for Commercial Operations at The National Theatre,

a 2016 People Awards winner

It’s that time again! Entries are now being welcomed for the 2017 People Awards. These special awards celebrate the finest achievements in hospitality recruitment, development and retention. The 2016 award for On-Boarding Programme was presented to the National Theatre for their smart and inspiring welcome package.

We all know that making a strong first impression is crucial when entering into a new role. For candidates, this can come at the all-important interview stage, but for employers, once their choice has been made and candidates become employees, that first impression is of even greater importance.

Great employers want to create a confident, enthusiastic work force. They also want their employees to remain with them for as long as possible, and in order to do so, creating a solid on-boarding programme is essential.

For the National Theatre, success didn’t come easily, as they had several recruitment challenges to address. Prior to their current programme being implemented, there was no standardisation or consistency in the way new recruits were welcomed and orientated into the organisation, and in particular to Commercial Operations. They needed to ensure that employees were given the same information and the same training for consistency, compliance and excellent customer service. Geraldine McCormick, HR Advisor for Commercial Operations at The National Theatre, explains, “The reason for designing our current On-Boarding programme is to give structure to what was previously a very piecemeal process without placing too much strain on the operational manager’s time.” She stressed that getting this right was a one-shot deal. “Our biggest challenge is that we only have one opportunity per recruitment drive to have all the new hires together for the three days, and during those three days we need to ensure we can cover as much information and training as possible. We have to make certain that all the staff are given the same knowledge and opportunities by welcoming them and engaging them in life at the Theatre. Operationally, this is a complex task for a small team like ours, but we’ve now found ways to make it all run smoothly.”

The National Theatre’s current On-Boarding programme was devised to support the core job description for Commercial Operations. It was felt that the programme needed to clarify and embed vision, values, behaviours and consistent style and then deliver this for every member of staff working in ‘Audience Experience’. “We started by devising modules around each of our core values,” said Geraldine McCormick, “and then built modules around all the compliance and safety matters. We then added extras to “join” the sessions together, sessions designed to build great, cohesive teams from day one.”

The physical delivery of the three-day training session employs a variety of methods such as verbal communication, visual, hands on interactive activities, quizzes, PowerPoint, roleplay and games. Time is set aside at the end of day three for feedback and questions.

The line manager and Audience Experience personnel continue to support and review all new employees after the On-Boarding programme and throughout their employment.  This is achieved via a process of one-to-one appraisals, focus groups, cross–working training and other extra training as required.

Feedback on the National Theatre’s On-Boarding programme has been extremely positive “Staff genuinely value the program,” said Geraldine McCormick, “they are engaged and feel work-ready. They are aware of the main procedures and policies and have all met key team members. Staff have told us how they make long-lasting friends and feel engaged about working with their new found colleagues. Overall we have a much happier and retainable workforce.”

On winning a People Award for On-Boarding, Geraldine 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 of. People don’t always think of the National Theatre for our incredible restaurants, cafes and bars, so being recognised by is such a privilege for us. Indeed we were amazed that we won, particularly so because we were up against some very strong and worthy competitors. We are oozing with pride!”

Entering the 2017 People Awards couldn’t be easier. There are 13 categories. It’s free and you can enter as many categories as you wish. Entries close on 2nd July 2017 and 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