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London EDITION reveals the truth about a career in hospitality (Part 2)

A new kind of retention

London Editions

“There is so much variety in the hospitality environment, that there’s something for everyone, something to fit every personality.” – Jose Ruiz, London EDITION.

In the first part of our fascinating conversation with Jose Ruiz and Elsie Koopman from London EDITION, we discussed how the hotel attracts and recruits talent and about the huge part that culture plays in the process.

Learning & Development

Increasingly, candidates know exactly where they want to be on their career path and they want the tools to get there. More than ever, a great Learning & Development package is essential in not only recruiting talent, but also retaining them.

For those wanting to progress within London EDITION, the hotel has a programme called ‘Essential Skills’. “It’s a nine-month training programme, featuring nine modules and it’s our most successful training course in terms of people who apply and pass but also in the number of people who are promoted through it,” Jose Ruiz explained. “It’s the programme that takes people from team-member to a supervisory role.” EDITION is about to launch the follow-up to that course, called ‘Lead’. “It’s for people who have completed ‘Essential Skills’ and want to go even further.” There is also another training programme relating to management roles. “It’s a structured program with modules that add complexity as learners increase their knowledge and leadership capability. This means that learners can learn at a pace that is convenient to them.”

A new kind of retention

EDITION is very keen to build a pipeline of managers, in anticipation of further hotel openings, however, as Jose explains the fit must be right. “We don’t retain people for the sake of numbers. I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing, but we want the best people, people who provide the best guest experience. If we can get somebody to deliver the best work of their life for six months, it so much better then someone who is just “cruising” for 18 months.

“I recently interviewed somebody who also had an interview with The Dorchester the following day,” Jose recalled. “I told him that I could have offered him the job there and then, but I insisted that he met the team at The Dorchester and experience what they had to offer. He was a perfect fit perfectly for us, but it isn’t just about us; it’s about the candidate too. They have to do what is right for them. If they aren’t completely happy, we won’t be either. We want people to stay with us, but that cultural fit has to be there. He ended up joining EDITION because he felt that it felt more like a home for him.”

Elsie pointed out that it’s the person, not role that defines them at London EDITION. “We have an in-house artist,” she said, “who started with us as a cocktail waitress. She didn’t want to do that as a career, but we recognised her talent. She went away and has now come back and is creating beautiful artwork for our guests. Retention can take different forms.”

The London EDITION view toward retention is a refreshing one. Jose explained that the hotel does have restrictions on roles and budget, so it’s team members sometimes leave and gain further experience elsewhere, but often come back to EDITION. “We encourage this and we always welcome them back with open arms,” said Jose.

Rewards & Benefits

“One of the fantastic things about EDITION is our online portal showcasing the benefits available to employees,” Elsie said. “They can choose from discounted theatre tickets, discounts in the high street. As part of the Marriott Group, we have over 6000 hotels worldwide and discounts are available to employees for these. Depending on your role, we can offer insurance and medical benefits.” London EDITION also has a big focus on wellbeing with offers on Yoga classes, meditation classes and gym memberships. “We have something called the Berners Street Social, which is our social committee,” Elsie said. “They organise a fun group event every month for employees to enjoy. It might be a boat party on the Thames, a picnic in the park, birthday parties, paintballing, beer pop-ups. They’ve very popular and are all free for employees.”

The Future

2019 is an undiscovered country for the UK hospitality industry. It’s difficult to plan for the unknown, but some employers are getting a sense of what the future may bring. “I think the world of hospitality, even without Brexit is in a state of flux and change is inevitable,” Jose said. “Hotels that have been traditional luxury brands are finding that they need make changes. Luxury is becoming the norm and hotels need to find a niche within that. That’s why you see so many brands now dipping their toe in the lifestyle arena. There are so many restaurants now too and they are all competing for the same talent.” Jose feels that there is room for all comers, but again in order to find the right people, that fit must be right.

“When I go to universities and colleges and I meet students, I always tell them, don’t let anyone tell you where you should go,” Jose said. “Everybody is going to try and sell you what they’re offering. You take what fits around you. Do what’s best for you.” Jose and Elsie both believe that candidates need to go where they can flourish; there’s no point in trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. “There is so much variety in the hospitality environment, that there’s something for everyone, something to fit every personality.”

If you missed part I you can catch up here.

Find out more about the fantastic opportunities at London Edition here