Hotel / Catering

Seeking the right fit

by Natasha Rogai

Perdita Fung
human resources director
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui
Photos: Edde Ngan

Iconic hotel to make a glittering comeback

For nearly four decades, Hyatt Regency in Tsim Sha Tsui served as a prominent landmark on Nathan Road. The hotel premises closed down in 2006 and the hotel is set to reopen in a brand-new building on Hanoi Road later this year.

Hyatt Regency is gearing up for the last leg of recruitment. Some 300 employees have been recruited over the past few months, but about 80 posts need to be filled, mainly in food and beverage, housekeeping and front office. Some middle management posts also remain vacant.

When the Hyatt group recruits a new employee, it always goes for a candidate who FITS — an acronym for the group's staffing philosophy, says Perdita Fung, human resources director, Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui.

"It stands for flexibility, an essential quality that our employees should possess when serving guests; initiative, which is key in the hospitality industry. A competent, customer service-oriented person should anticipate guests' needs, and take the initiative to offer assistance," Ms Fung explains. "Teamwork and sincerity are equally important. Good service must always come from the heart."

Infusing fresh blood

The hotel's recruitment strategy reflects the staffing principle that it employs. Most of the management positions have been filled accordingly either by internal candidates from within the Hyatt group in Hong Kong or overseas, or experienced hotel professionals who opted to pursue a career with Hyatt.

To keep the hotel's traditions, certain senior employees from the original Hyatt Regency will return, including the general manager, concierge manager and manager of celebrated restaurant Hugo's. They will be complimented by selected new staff.

External recruitment focuses on people who worked previously in other customer service industries as well as fresh graduates, especially those who completed hospitality management courses.

"The goal is to create a fresh, exciting new hotel environment, while making returning guests feel at home at the same time," notes Ms Fung. "We need to have a hybrid of talent. Bringing in new blood enables us to benefit from new ideas and new energy."

Effective approach

To fill a range of junior positions, the hotel held three mass recruitment exercises last month. Ms Fung says holding traditional "walk-in" open days is far from satisfactory to both employer and jobseekers. As a matter of practice, Hyatt advertises vacant jobs and the human resources department screens all applications before inviting promising candidates to individual appointments.

From time to time, Ms Fung and her team contend with a heavy workload. For instance, they went through a mountain of 6,000 resumes before selecting around 330 candidates. The results amply justified the painstaking selection process. "The initial screening guaranteed a 100 per cent attendance and produced good quality candidates," says Ms Fung. "We saw 110 people a day and more than 50 per cent went on to a second interview. With a traditional open day, you may see 1,000 candidates, but only 100 or 200 will be acceptable."

Hyatt's selection procedure is also designed to make candidates feel more relaxed. Small groups of applicants listen to a talk from the hotel's general manager and watch a corporate video about the group's development and culture. The human resources team then interviews them individually. Applicants who meet Hyatt's criteria proceed to a second interview conducted by the relevant division head.

"One-on-one interviews provide candidates with an opportunity to express themselves better," Ms Fung says. "Many of them have shown their appreciation for the privacy in which we conduct interviews."

To ascertain the suitability of certain candidates for work at the Hyatt, candidates are evaluated based on their ability to meet the group's core values. Ms Fung says Hyatt puts a high premium on candidates' personality and attitude. The group wants to hire people who will put their heart and mind into serving customers. "We have plenty of training programmes and experienced managers who can lead their teams to work at a certain level," says Ms Fung. "We are confident that we can teach skills, but we must first of all hire people who have the right attitude and personality."

Hyatt's principal objective is to provide not merely jobs, but long-term careers. The hotel invests on its employees accordingly, providing them with ample opportunities for personal growth, learning and development. All these help instil loyalty among employees amid a rewarding and exciting business. "A hotel is like a microcosm of a society," says Ms Fung. "Anything can happen within a hotel setting. We operate in a complicated but interesting people oriented industry."


Taken from Career Times 21 August 2009, p. B4
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