Hotel / Catering

Engaged workforce breathes and lives five-star service

by Ada Ng

Mazy Cheng (left)
human resources director
Tina Di Cicco, director of communications
InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong
Photo: Edde Ngan

International hotelier inspires staff to go the extra mile

In the highly competitive global business environment, service excellence is a key success factor. To this end, InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong acknowledges the importance of an engaged and energetic workforce and encourages its staff to find inspiration in its corporate culture —t he values, beliefs, customs and behaviours that form the basis of the hotel's philosophy.

The hotel's core values centre around working as a team, striving for service excellence, people development, being sales- and results-oriented, and maintaining integrity, safety, security and commercial awareness at all times.

"The hotel's training programmes and incentive schemes focus on immersing staff in these corporate cultural values," says Mazy Cheng, human resources director, InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong.

Employer brand

InterContinental Hotels Group is a five-star luxury brand. It is the world's largest hotel company, with three million members enrolled in its frequent guest programme. Tina Di Cicco, director of communications, InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong notes, "When you're in this league, you live and breathe five-star quality."

The hotel depends on all staff to help expand commercial awareness of the hotel brand on a range of levels.

"In fact, we are all salespeople and ambassadors for the hotel," she says, noting that people often choose hotels on the strength of other guests' reviews and feedback, and that word of mouth is a major factor in the hospitality industry.

"For this reason, we want our staff to sing the praises of our brand and to suggest our services whenever friends or relatives plan wedding receptions or company events."

In order for staff to be able to recommend the hotel with confidence, new recruits are offered a taste of the hotel's services during their orientation programme, when they get to sample restaurant buffets and hotel facilities, Ms Cheng says. "We want our staff to experience the hotel from a customer's point of view before they serve our guests."

The hotel recognises and rewards productive, result-oriented employees through financial and social incentives. Outstanding performers are rewarded at monthly staff celebrations, while top achievers are named and receive travel packages worth up to HK$18,000 as recognition for their hard work through the year.

Second home

Just as InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong goes beyond the call of duty to provide guests with an unsurpassed hospitality experience, it also strives to provide staff with the optimum working environment, remarks Ms Di Cicco.

"We want to make work fun and meaningful while conveying the message to our staff that we take care of them, just as we take care of our guests," Ms Cheng adds.

The hotel recently revamped the staff cafeteria as part of its workplace improvements and Ms Di Cicco says the staff kitchen is known to be one of the best in the industry, with a modern and environmentally friendly design and quality food.

Employees are encouraged to speak their minds, and the hotel organises regular communication sessions with the general manager. Ms Cheng points out, "Our aim is for everyone to contribute to a great workplace through open and transparent communication with senior management."

Staff outings and sports events such as bowling and soccer games are constantly on the staff activity agenda, catering for the varying interests of employees.

Regular community involvement also helps to add value to the workplace. Aside from encouraging staff to give blood, and to donate to food banks, the hotel has recently supported a "Cooking for life" programme, enabling underprivileged children to cook in a five-star kitchen setting with world-renowned chefs.

Staff who participated in these events experienced a great sense of satisfaction and happiness, Ms Cheng notes.

This "beyond-the-workplace" working environment and the range of staff reward schemes have all contributed to a low staff turnover rate over the past year.

A passion for service excellence is always a key motivating factor for happy and satisfied workers, Ms Cheng emphasises. The hotel has also achieved a record-high employees' satisfaction score of 91 per cent in the Hong Kong Institute of Human Resources Management's employee satisfaction study.

Ms Di Cicco says, "Hotel work is not easy. Sometimes you work irregular hours or overtime, but positive energy drives self-motivation and quality service."


Taken from Career Times 26 September 2008, p. C5
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