Businesses mark their anniversaries by making a bit of a splash, usually in the form of publicity to drive their business. However, a different approach is being taken by the Renaissance Kowloon Hotel to celebrate the 80th anniversary of its parent chain, the Marriott Group.
"We want all our associates to have a good time to celebrate our 80th birthday because we are all members of the one big family. And it is a usual practice that we have an 'association appreciation week' in May every year to show our appreciation and gratitude to all associates," says Emil Leung, human resources manager, Renaissance Kowloon Hotel.
To kick off the chain of celebratory events, all associates were invited to join in the "Marriott 80th anniversary quiz and logo counting competition". Mr Leung explains, "We set up an eye-catching booth with fun games in the associate cafeteria to remind everybody to take part. Those correctly answering some questions, mostly about the history and background of the group, received various prizes." A fun mahjong competition was also held to entertain many associates.
Bosses as servers
One very special event was an associate buffet during the "associate appreciation week", when senior executives and department heads actually served the hotel's signature dishes to associates at the associate cafeteria. "This is the way we show our associates how we put our philosophy into action," Mr Leung says. "We take good care of our internal guests to thank them for taking good care of the customers."
The hotel's "liberal workplace culture" keeps the distance between different levels of associate to a minimum, he adds. Although a hierarchy of associate levels does exist, as in other sizeable organisations, an associate can go straight to the top management if the circumstances make it necessary. "My office door is always open, as are those of all other executives," he points out. "Further, we make associate visitors to the HR department welcome by providing newspapers and magazines, and even snacks and sweets to put them at ease. Associates can pop in during spare minutes to treat themselves and socialise with us. We'd never take the opinions of our associates lightly."
Many of the associate recreational activities such as basketball and badminton were introduced as a result of suggestions made by associates themselves. This year, to mark the group's anniversary, associates were asked which other sport they would like to see introduced, and the consensus was ten-pin bowling. This led to a series of enjoyable events at bowling alleys rented by the company.
Another highlight of the "associate appreciation week" was the "spirit to serve our communities day", comprising a trip to the Hong Chi Association in Tai Po. "This proved to be a most enjoyable bonding exercise," says Mr Leung. "The Marriott group volunteer team went to Pinehill Village in Tai Po, which brought back many happy memories to those who knew it from their schooldays. We held a BBQ and took part in various leisure activities."
Mr Leung notes that activities like that are not a one-off sort of thing. "We have a long-term relationship with this charity organisation, and some others like Heep Hong Society, too," he says. "Besides such annual visits to these different organisations, the group provides training partnerships and career posts for the Hong Chi Association. For Heep Hong Society, our chefs chip in every year for their fund-raising events. With the full support of the management, our associates take an active part in many community services. We feel we have an obligation to do so."
Associate morale is always a consideration of the hotel's HR department. "One very simple way to keep up everybody's spirits is a regular word of praise," Mr Leung stresses. "People's spirits are immediately buoyed when they realise their efforts are truly appreciated."
In line with this, the hotel also held a "celebration and recognition party" as part of its monthly celebrations. Earlier this month, more than 200 employees holding supervisory positions or above attended the party held in the hotel's function room, where they were served with the special "hot shoppes" menu, a replica of an original Marriott product. They played small group games and received compliments from the top management. "From an PR point of view, a decent meal once in a while does not serve to retain an employee's loyalty, but a combination of all these gestures genuinely creates a feeling that they have more than a job here — it shows that this is also their home."