We talk to Yasmin Rose, HR Manager at St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel about recruitment, retention and development at the hotel super-brand.
Standing apart in the King’s Cross district of London is the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel. This stark, expansive, Gothic building is audacious in its design and breathtaking to visitors and Londoners alike.
Entering the hotel is entering another world. Blending its inherent Victorian signature with sleek, modern touches, the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel is an oasis in Central London. Needless to say, service is exceptional, but creating a coherent whole in such a mammoth and imposing environment is no easy task.
“You simply cannot work in hospitality if you don’t have a passion for people,” said Yasmin Rose, HR Manager at St. Pancras Renaissance hotel. “In a property so vast, with so many guests coming and going, you have to work hard to maintain a genuine family feel. It may sound clichéd, but that’s how we position our culture. For example, on Tuesdays, my team and I greet guests in the main lobby. This has nothing to do with HR, but how can I expect my associates to do that if I can’t do it too? We are a family, and that’s what we’re about here.”
Like many hospitality employers, St. Pancras Renaissance hires for personality; but this isn’t borne from the findings of a focus group, the HR team at the hotel firmly believe that people are their greatest commodity. “I can teach you to use systems, methods and standards, but I can’t teach you character, attitude or authenticity,” said Yasmin. “Your personality is unique to you. What a candidate brings to the guest experience in order to make it genuine, cannot be taught. That’s what my Heads of Department and I are looking for when we hire. Most of the questions we ask in interviews are about the person; for example, where did they discover last week? What from their culture can they bring to what we do? Our guests are from every corner of the world, and we don’t want to offer the same experience time and time again. Every guest is different, and around 40% of our teams don’t have hospitality school backgrounds or experience and the reason for this is because we want different life experiences, journeys and cultures to be reflected in the world-class service we offer.”
Whilst Marriott, owners of St. Pancras Renaissance hotel, are continuously looking at new strategies to streamline the recruitment process – Yasmin likes to make methods of hiring as personal as possible. “For the management roles I look after, I always like to make a call first to find out more about the candidate which I find really sets the tone for their face to face interview. As far as chefs go, I’ve learned that trial shifts are the best way to go. It’s better for us to see how they work in our kitchen teams and importantly, they’re happy showing us what they can do,” Yasmin said. “We need to be flexible, for example, for entry-level roles we can invite candidates to complete their application here in the hotel so that there’s always somebody here to help especially if English isn’t their first language.”
We tend not to allow new starters to work at St. Pancras Renaissance without taking part in a full orientation. “It’s hospitality, and I know it can be a bit much and so because of this, we have to be absolutely sure that our associates aren’t simply being thrown in at the deep end,” says Yasmin. “We have to make sure that our successful applicants are being on-boarded properly.”
Yasmin explains that hiring for management positions, streamlining the whole procedure is key. “Again, telephone screening is crucial for me, but it’s also important as far as a great candidate experience goes,” she said. “Right now, there are three stages for hiring. If you get through the first two, you’re invited to a meeting with the GM. I think for these type of roles, candidates will be experienced enough to understand how we work. We really don’t want to drag out the process, so I really do my best to accommodate candidates and get them hired as soon as we can.”
Learning & Development
Learning and Development outside of departmental training at the hotel falls under the HR Team’s remit. “We have a program called ‘Mind the Gap’ which are bite-size training courses,” Yasmin explains. “If my team or associates comes to me with the same sort of issue, or there confusion on a new procedure for example, Mind the Gap will help in addressing that gap in knowledge sooner rather than later.” The hotel covers everything, from systems training to supervisory training, there’s also Marriott core training, anti-corruption & human trafficking training, loyalty training, along with discipline led training, languages, finance and so much more.
“We have an online training platform,” says Yasmin, “where associates can log on and learn several topics. The HR Team can help and it’s an ongoing process.”
Yasmin is fully aware that young people in hospitality know where they want to be and they expect their employer to help them get there. “Management has to be aware of this,” she said. “We have to understand their needs and train and manage them accordingly.”
The hotel promotes cross-training between departments and also across Marriott properties. “If a team member shows skills and talent in a particular area and their manager can see this, we can organise on the job training. The majority of our vacancies are filled internally and we like to promote this way, however, the associate still undergoes the same interview process as an external candidate. It has to be consistent.”
Rewards & Benefits
The company offers its own benefits platform & explore program. “We believe that our Marriott voluntary benefits help employees save money and offer something for everyone; whether you want to get more active, take a break or take advantage of money-saving products, there’s something for everyone,” says Yasmin. “We offer discounts for London attractions, cinema, shopping, IT, car insurance and more. Now that we’ve recently merged with Starwood, their benefits have integrated too.” Associates at St Pancras also get internal benefits, discounted room rates, 50% off food and beverage, and discounts across brands internationally. Yasmin also explains, “We have a doctor offering occupational health visits, eye care and glasses benefit and a chiropodist who visit regularly for the benefit of all associates.”
There are also recognition events for associates, “We hold our monthly recognition ‘tea parties’ in the Ladies Smoking Room within the hotel and associates can enjoy as much tea, cake and scones as they can handle,” Yasmin laughs. “We use these to congratulate teams who have done exceptionally well. When departments or individuals have excelled themselves, we like to make sure everybody knows about.”
“We have a noticeboard called “You’re a Gem” where associates can tell everyone about someone in their team who they feel has excelled or helped them in some way,” Yasmin said. “This is nothing to do with management, this is solely for and by the associates and HR will post on their social media pages. They love doing it and it goes a long way in maintaining both appreciation and the family feel, we work hard toward here at the St. Pancras Renaissance to maintain.”
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