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Spotlighting Innovation: Employee Engagement

As the 2018 People Awards get closer, we look at another amazing shortlist.

Attracting and recruiting talent into the hospitality industry can be difficult enough, keeping hold of that talent is another battle altogether. Retention breeds experience, which is not only good for your business, it also enriches your brand and your culture. Engaging your employees from the very beginning is crucial.

In selecting a winner for the Employee Engagement category in the 2018 People Awards, the judges were looking for entries that demonstrated a clear focus on understanding and successfully improving employee engagement levels. They also sought evidence of clearly understood areas for development, well executed initiatives, and a genuinely positive impact on employee retention, customer satisfaction, productivity and costs.

The shortlist for this year’s Employee Engagement category is:

• AccorHotels
• Café Royal
• Durham University Catering
• Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane
• Hooked-on Group
• Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa
• The Stafford London

It was no easy task for our illustrious group of judges. They were:

Anneli Daniels
HR Director, Marriott Hotels
After attending Norwich City Hotel School Anneli joined De Vere Hotels as a Trainee Manager and then moved into Human Resources holding various roles. She then joined Hilton, again in HR, overseeing various properties as an HR Manager, Training Manager and Area Director.
A change in direction saw a move to South West Trains in 2014 where she held the role of Area HR Business Partner at London Waterloo.
However, Anneli’s heart lay with Hospitality and in 2015 she joined Marriott taking the role of Multi-Property Director of Human Resources with a promotion to Cluster Director of Human Resources – Central Cluster following in early 2017.

Gemma Beeson
Head of HR, Champneys Health Spa
Gemma’s HR career journey has taken her through many sectors, giving her great experiences within the HR world. Starting off in the prison service, Gemma has also worked in telecommunications, distribution, e-commerce and now in Hospitality, a sector that is extremely diverse and one she thoroughly enjoys.
In 2014, Gemma joined Champneys as a HR Manager looking after one resort and the reservations department and is now solely responsible for the HR function and looks after the whole group.

Jo Harley
Managing Director, Purple Cubed
As MD of award winning employee engagement consultancy Purple Cubed, Jo has provided expertise and tools for organisations to improve business results and growth through harnessing the power of their people for over 15 years. Prior to this she was operational in the industry managing pubs/bars and working with Bacardi-Martini.

Lisa Redding
Head of HR, Eden Hotel Collection
Lisa joined Eden Hotel Collection in 2018 in a newly created Head of HR role introduced to support its people culture and values, bringing a proactive and ‘modern day’ HR approach across eight luxury hotels. Prior to this, Lisa was Group Resourcing and Talent Manager for QHotels where she worked for 10 years in generalist and specialist roles, responsible for the Resourcing and Employer Brand strategy designed to recruit, engage, develop, and retain top talent across 26 hotels. Lisa has 15 years+ experience working within HR in the hospitality industry, having also held previous roles for Village Hotels and MacDonald Hotels.

Martin McPhail

Director of Human Resources, RBH Hotels UK Ltd
Martin has spent his entire working career in hospitality. Originally from an Ops background, he now has the responsibility of driving the people strategy into a diverse range of hotels across the UK.
Having worked at RBH for eight years, the experience gained is tremendous, from working with new opening hotels, changing cultures in established properties and developing individuals and teams.
Martin is a passionate and dedicated hospitality professional with a wealth of expertise.

Edward Gallier
Head of Learning & Development, Jurys Inn Hotels
Ed is Head of Learning & Development for Jurys Inn Hotels. He is a passionate hospitality operator specialising in learning and development.
Prior to his role with Jurys Inn he ran a hospitality learning consultancy, U Flourish working with small and medium size businesses improving the guest experience and management development programmes. He also found time to be part of the Conde Nast hotel inspection team in the UK.
A mentor in the School of Hospitality at Oxford Brookes University and Chair of the Hospitality Apprenticeship board, Ed believes in developing stronger links between education and business for the mutual benefits that can be gained.


Who made the shortlist?

Hooked-On Group

To tackle the challenge of recruiting highly skilled knowledgeable staff, Hooked-On Group firstly reviewed their recruitment process by implementing a knowledge test for all candidates at all levels. The questionnaire covered topics like basic food knowledge, seasonality, sourcing, beverages, diets, food safety, employment law, licencing and finance. They have also introduced an interview analysis form. Each candidate is marked after their interview covering areas such as job-related knowledge, communication ability, poise, experience, insight & alertness. FLOW, their online training platform has been fundamental to their success in delivering structured, diverse, quality training to all of Hooked-On staff.

Four Seasons Hotel London

The renowned hotel launched and introduced a Standards Direct Line programme to discuss weekly and monthly standards results, action plans and focus areas. In 2018 they launched a new Standards Testing Platform to help their teams manage standard delivery. They have also conducted bespoke standards based circuit training for 250 of their guest facing team members. In addition, Four Season has collaborated with Mindgym and Whitehat to launch a Leadership Apprenticeship programme for 15 of their Management Team, linked to competency development.
Four Season initiatives have worked for them. Employee engagement, measured through their Employee Voice Survey increased by 8% to 84% with 93% of employees saying that Four Seasons is a great place to work. There was also a 12% point increase in employee confidence in their service delivery from 72% to 84%.

Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa

Old Course Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa developed The HOME programme to help the team identify key themes and expectations about how they feel about the service they provide. It’s a scoping exercise involving a number of focus groups and staff surveys. Following this process, a number of key themes emerged, both in terms sources of pride and appreciation e.g. pride in the property and Kohler Co., and a commitment to high standards, as well as areas for improvement. A common theme was a sense of pride about the Resort’s location in the ‘Home of Golf’, as well as staff friendliness and warmth, hence the framework ‘HOME of Great Service’ emerged. The results of their engagement survey showed that overall Engagement levels for the business are 77%, which represents a 5% increase from the previous year.

The Stafford London

The Stafford London created a brand platform that describes their identity & culture. They designed The Stafford House, a system that articulates their Core Values: PEOPLE, PASSION, PURPOSE. Within the brand platform, they also identified their brand essence, emotional experience and Vision and Mission Statements. In addition, they designed a new on-boarding and induction program called Simply Stafford. Every team member has to go through the Simply Stafford induction which introduces them to The Stafford House. With a turnover rate in 2016 41% 2018 has seen that percentage drop to just 18%.


Accor carried out a survey to learn what matters most to their people at work. Questions were based on research, best practice in hospitality and other industries, and the verbal feedback they obtained from employees when HR visited hotels. These aspects highlighted key areas of importance: the rota, self-rota, staff food, social life, work/life balance, uniforms, celebrations in the hotels and relationships with the management. Accor created a series of actions in response to these areas and branded them under the Well-B Programme. Each hotel signs up to the programme to initially carry out a free and confidential Well-B survey with their teams to ascertain which areas of wellbeing require improvement in their hotel. The team then tailors the Well-B Programme in accordance with these results, in order to be most effective.

Cafe Royal

‘Capturing Hearts and Minds’ is the heading which was born out of Café Royal’s branding exercise. Initially, a workshop was designed and delivered as a result of the brand realignment to all colleagues within the two hotels in London and Amsterdam and this was the launch pad to bring their five values to life within the business: Exceptional focus, Discerning Individuality, Balanced Perspective, Forward Thinking and Joie de Vivre. Café Royal’s 2017 employee survey results showed an increase on the previous year on overall hotel results. The voluntary completion rate was 88% and departmentally there was an increase in satisfaction in 14 out of 19 departmental groupings.

Durham University Catering

An integrated recruitment, induction and development process, prior to the start of each term was developed, with a single recruitment process for all 26 Cafes/Colleges. A departmental video was developed to provide visual insight into ‘what we actually do’. The video also helped applicants and existing team members understand departmental purpose, strategy and values. Job descriptions and personal specifications were developed with a reduced focus on qualifications and experience and a greater focus towards positive behavioural indicators which are linked to a behavioural framework; ‘Realising Your Potential’. The frame work identifies key behaviours expected of each role to develop individual team members and the University’s performance. Recruitment and retention has improved with 2016-17 Interview attendees for entry level positions up 5 % YOY to 120. Team members have been successfully inducted with 86% of induction feedback scored as excellent.


Furthering their on-going mission of helping, not just customers, but employees to live well and eat well, LEON have run an internal campaign to encourage everyone to tell them what motivates them, in doing so they’ve created an environment that allows team members to perform at their best. In order to further embed their wellbeing strategy, LEON has introduced wellbeing ambassadors; all volunteers, as a point of contact for employee wellbeing. LEON happiness at work scores have gone up across Head Office, Managers and hourly paid team members, from 7.6 to 8.3 out of 10 with scores for ‘LEON helps me to live and eat well’ up across team members, from 6.9 to 8.2 out of 10.

Who will win the Employee Engagement category?

Be there at the 2018 People Awards at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, October 1st to find out.

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