Hotel / Catering

Grand plans put employees first

by Isabella Lee

Vida Chow
director of human resources
Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
Photo: Nolly Leung

Human resources management evolves beyond hiring to foster talent development

The role of human resources has moved beyond administration, into the realm of strategic planning: aside from routine activities such as payroll and headcount, HR performs the crucial function of managing a company's most important assets — human talent.

"The HR team at Hyatt is regarded as a business partner to other divisions of the hotel. We allocate considerable resources to locate employees, communicate with them and address their needs, while making sure the hotel remains an employer of choice so that high performers will join and stay with us," notes Vida Chow, director of human resources, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong. "Therefore, it is important to recruit talented people with the right fit as the first step in our HR process."

Employee focus

Grand Hyatt's candidate selection process typically includes preliminary documentation scanning procedures, meeting with department heads to assess technical skills, and finally, dialogue with the hotel's general manager or resident manager.

Once onboard, new employees go through a comprehensive hotel orientation programme and a syllabus designed specifically for their positions. Upon completion of the probation period, employees are awarded certificates presented by the management team in a grand graduation ceremony to celebrate their achievements.

To better understand employees across the organisation, the Hyatt group conducts an annual employee opinion survey. Figures from the survey show that Grand Hyatt Hong Kong has achieved consistent improvements — an encouraging result aided by effective HR initiatives.

"Communication is ongoing here through different channels, like our unique 'Hyattalk', an informal twice- weekly forum that the management puts much time and effort into. At these forums, we invite employees representing their departments to share their feelings about their jobs and voice out constructive feedback. After the event, we respond to their wants and needs without delay," Ms Chow says.

Through a plethora of communication channels, employees also express their career aspirations. In light of this, the hotel facilitates employee education through its "Hyattrain" programme, enabling employees to share best practices and aspirations with one another. Classes and e-learning courses are also available, covering a wide range of topics from leadership skills to wine tasting and languages.

"We help our people stretch their potential. We tell them they can make the career path of their choice. We have examples of senior executives starting in events, moving on to front desk, and now in HR. At Hyatt, the sky's the limit," Ms Chow remarks.

Adhered to a promotion-from-within policy, the hotel's employees are offered further opportunities at the group's new properties in Shatin and Tsim Sha Tsui, which are due to open next February and July respectively. Hyatt's global presence also represents a wealth of international career opportunities.

Encouraging accomplishment

According to Ms Chow, talent management is about letting employees know their contribution has added value to the company.

"It takes the hard work of our people to maintain a high and consistent level of service. Being a customer-focused hotel, our name stands for quality," Ms Chow explains. On the basis of satisfactory employee retention, the hotel is geared towards employee engagement — a key element to boost productivity, help employees think out of the box and drive them to go the extra mile.

Meanwhile, a group-wide employee engagement survey is deployed to collect employees' viewpoints with 12 carefully researched statements, such as "I have the necessary materials and equipment I need to do my job right", "I have received recognition or praise for doing good work" and "I have a best friend at work".

"We have a lot to do to foster a highly engaged workforce. One thing we can see in Grand Hyatt is a workplace where people enjoy spending time together," Ms Chow observes.

She adds that constant performance reviews and discussion of career goals are vital to engage employees. As such, the management talks to individuals about their mission, areas of improvement and opportunities so that employees can decide their own path and pace for personal growth.

"By analysing data collected from the employee engagement survey, we want to address issues in our HR practice so that we can serve our internal customers better," Ms Chow concludes.


Taken from Career Times 24 October 2008, p. C2
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