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Spotlighting Innovation: HR Team

The 2018 People Award for HR Team recognises HR individuals or teams that have achieved excellence in recruitment, retention and/or development.

There are always challenges facing employers. Attracting and retaining talent, not to mention developing the skills of employees are just some of the issues which require constant review. Just because your recruitment strategy was fruitful for one season, doesn’t mean it will continue to be so. These are changing times and the demands of your workforce will change and HR Teams need to change with them.

The 2018 People Award for HR Team recognises HR individuals or teams that have achieved excellence in recruitment, retention and/or development. The judges wanted to reward work that went beyond the everyday tasks surrounding Human Resources, work that is inventive, intuitive and ground-breaking.

The judges for this category were:

Chad Smith

Head Of Recruitment, Boparan Restaurant Group

In 2013, driven by a passion for food and a love of restaurants, Chad embarked on his first in-house role as a Talent Resourcing Advisor with Giraffe Restaurants and hasn’t looked back since. Following the acquisition of Giraffe by Boparan Restaurant Group, he became responsible for overseeing the recruitment function for the group, implementing recruitment standards and practices for each of the brands, with a focus on driving employer brand and candidate experience.

Chris Todd

Recruitment Manager, The Ned

At the beginning of 2017 Chris was bought on board as recruitment manager for the exciting opening of The Ned London. He was tasked to recruit chefs for The Ned’s 10 restaurants, events and pastry kitchens, which operate with over 160 chefs. After a successful 12 months opening The Ned, Chris is now the recruitment manager for the whole front of house and back of house F&B function at the property, which has more than 600 F&B staff.

Esther O’Halloran

Managing Director, HR in Hospitality

A confident, outgoing senior HR professional & Managing Director who is personally credible, with experience gained from working in a variety of entrepreneurial, public and private sector businesses as well as corporate blue-chip organisations and have held a variety of roles. Initial experiences in General Management and Operational roles within retail fashion and hospitality sectors (including H&M, Whitbread, Costa, Pret a Manger, EAT and PAUL) provide invaluable commercial business experience of both industries from the front line. Also currently Chair of HR in Hospitality, active volunteer and mentor and NED for a small number of organisations.

Joanne Meredith

Former Director of Human Resources, The Ritz London

Joanne’s career within the hospitality industry began in 1993 with Compass Services as Chef Manager. She was soon promoted to work in Cataforce, the Compass internal staff agency as a Recruitment Officer.

Joanne joined The Ritz London in 2003 and since that time has held the roles of Human Resources Manager, Training & Development Manager, Head of Human Resources and her current position as Director of Human Resources; whereby she leads the Human Resources, Recruitment and Training team of 6 people, to ensure a strategic and proactive HR support service for this world-famous hotel. Joanne has received many awards whilst at The Ritz, the most recent was through the Institute of Hospitality for High Commended Talent Development Team of the Year.

In 2018, she took part in The Springboard UK Trek and Community project in Vietnam, where she raised over £8,000 for the charity.

Lindsay Southward

Group People & Development Director, Malmaison & Hotel Du Vin

As Group People & Development Director of Malmaison Hotel du Vin, Lindsay manages all aspects of learning and development and employee relations across the business, overseeing a workforce of 3,000 employees in 33 locations across the UK.

Lindsay has over 17 years’ experience working as a HR professional in the hospitality industry, having worked in senior leadership roles for Crowne Plaza, De Vere Hotels & Village Urban Resorts.

The shortlist for the HR Team category is:

  • Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane
  • Gourmet Burger Kitchen
  • Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill
  • London Marriott County Hall
  • Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London
  • National Theatre Commercial Operations Department
  • Park Regis Hotel Birmingham
  • St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London


Let’s meet them….

Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane

The challenge for the past 12 months for Four Seasons has been to maintain their position as an employer of choice, grow their Employee Engagement and Guest Satisfaction while the hotel was transitioning through a large senior leadership change. As part of this, the hotel launched and introduced a Standards Direct Line programme to discuss weekly and monthly standards results, action plans and focus areas. This year they launched a new Standards Testing Platform to help teams manage standard delivery. They also conducted bespoke standards based circuit training for 250 guest facing team members and collaborated with Mindgym and Whitehat to launch a Leadership Apprenticeship programme for 15 Management Team members, linked to competency development. Employee engagement, measured through Four Seasons Employee Voice Survey increased by 8% to 84% (2% higher than their EMEA hotels) with 93% of employees saying that Four Seasons is a great place to work. There was a 12% point increase in employee’s confidence in service delivery from 72% to 84%.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen

GBK’s priority was first to create a successful communication channel to support change, whilst also to drive a ‘pull’ approach, where teams could instantly let HR know how they were feeling. Whilst researching various social media platforms, HR very quickly realised that many of their teams actively use Facebook and Instagram. They set up private Facebook and Instagram groups and created admin accounts that all functions to which the People Team had access. They regularly updated their teams on happenings within the organisation with stories of how teams develop, rewarded individuals and advertised internal vacancies. GBK very quickly realised that their teams love to share their stories, socially learn and communicate with each other right across the UK and Ireland, bringing the teams even closer together. This has positively impacted the business. GBK has seen a 10-point increase in stability over the last 12 months, and a clear reduction in turnover. Engagement levels are at an all-time high.

Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill

In November 2014 there was a gas explosion at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill. Fortunately there were no fatalities, although a few employees were seriously injured. The hotel was closed and it was almost 18 months before the hotel was fully open and back up to speed. The senior management of the hotel also changed in May 2016, which created further instability. Creativeness, recognition, socialising and bonding with colleagues has helped The HR Team to build on, capture and regenerate a Churchillian spirit. By creating bonds they have opened the door, which makes the HR team more approachable and allows them to grow that Churchillian spirit even further.

London Marriott County Hall

Engagement became the priority as far as HR was concerned at the Marriott and they started by creating a better social environment at the hotel. An Associate Relations Committee (ARC) was established who introduced hotel-sponsored pay-day social events from after work drinks to picnics and bowling. They introduced a hotel football team to play in a local league and worked with the ARC to create a calendar of monthly on-property events based in our staff canteen. As a result of actions that were implemented, Marriott’s HR Team have had a hugely successful 2017 that saw growth and record revenues across all departments. Alongside this guest satisfaction scores have increased, along with staff engagement.

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London

The MOLON HR Team created a bespoke programme for the HR and leadership team, providing them with the skills and knowledge to help change the hotel philosophy and embed their vision. All colleagues attended one-hour sessions with the General Manager to discuss ideas of how they could bring this alive. To ensure all colleagues had the required knowledge and confidence to interact with guests in a relevant yet different manner, HR launched a series of knowledge assessments which all colleagues were required to undertake and pass. Launched in January 2018, colleagues were trained, developed and empowered to create ‘WOW Moments’; exceptional and unexpected guest experiences. 2017 guest engagement increased by 3.5% to a hotel record highest score of 87%.

National Theatre Commercial Operations Department

NT’s HR Team reduced the unnecessary divisions between floor teams and improved internal communications, raising standards and enhancing consistency for the benefit of all NT visitors. Staff are managed, recognised and remunerated according to their specialist skills but also within the context of being part of a ‘super’ team dedicated to the bigger picture; promoting and nurturing the importance of human interaction to audience engagement. Their Customer Service Assistants are a multi-skilled, flexible workforce that can work in multiple areas. NT has had good internal promotion rates; currently 61% for managers and office staff and 75% including supervisors. Many staff move on to other roles within the NT, in particular in the Director’s Office and Learning. Staff Turnover is decreasing year on year from 15/16 at 43%, 16/17 at 39%, 17/18 at 22%.

Park Regis Hotel Birmingham

The HR team came up with core brand values for Park Regis Birmingham. To do this, they worked collaboratively with the directors and owners and asked them exactly what they envisioned for the future of the hotel and its staff. The answer was clear; the senior team could see that Park Regis Birmingham was going to evolve. This led to the creation of the ‘Evolve Employee Values’ which embodies the ethos of: ‘we evolve, you evolve, grow together.’ There are six values on which the HR structure was built: Be Empathetic, Share our Vision, Identify Opportunities, Love where you work, Master the art of Versatility and Inject some Energy. Staff are encouraged to embody these values from the moment they join Park Regis Birmingham and for the duration of their career there. The numbers speak for themselves. In the first year of trading Park Regis Birmingham saw a 96% staff turnover which meant they were required to fully re-staff twice within 12 months. That number more than halved in the second year (40% staff turnover) and this year is on target to be at 20% staff turnover. This is in line with the industry average staff turnover, which is between 20% and 30%.

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London

The HR Team has been actively promoting cultural identity. A strong recognition strategy has been developed, led by a monthly 20 minute party dedicated to recognising the success of associates, whilst including business updates. Launched last year, the innovative ‘Recognition Trolley’ is a box of readymade treats and thank-you messages for managers to deploy. A dedicated training room supports consistent training delivery of on-boarding, hospitality, supervisory/management development and ‘Mind the Gap’, a unique programme of 45 minute sessions for supervisors/managers to develop in HR systems/processes/standards knowledge.

Who will walk away with the HR Team Award? All will be revealed on October 1st.