Dial T for Talent Reviewed by Momizat on . Millennials have different career expectations, priorities and ambitions from the erstwhile generation. Arif Khan, director of HR, India for Hyatt Hotels and Re Millennials have different career expectations, priorities and ambitions from the erstwhile generation. Arif Khan, director of HR, India for Hyatt Hotels and Re Rating: 0
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Dial T for Talent

Millennials have different career expectations, priorities and ambitions from the erstwhile generation. Arif Khan, director of HR, India for Hyatt Hotels and Resorts urges hoteliers to keep pace with changing times so that they don’t end up managing a 21st century workforce with 20th century workplace practices

By Vinita Bhatia

Speak to an hotelier about the contemporary business challenges they face and in all probability manpower will be amongst the top three of those issues. While it might appear that human resource management – from hiring, training to retaining – is an issue that is plaguing the industry over the past few years, the fact is that the hospitality industry has always had to ride this dragon.

Arif Khan, director of HR, India of Hyatt Hotels and Resorts tells Vinita Bhatia that the biggest challenge is actually the shortage of skilled manpower. His definition of skilled people is people who have an interest to join the hospitality business and remain in this industry for a long time, and who have the affinity and ability to connect with guests. Getting and retaining people with this mindset, passion and devotion is increasingly becoming an uphill task.

What are the reasons behind the staffing crisis that the hotel industry has been facing over the past few years?
There are several factors that have contributed to this situation. On the macro-level, the growth of the IT and retail sectors weaned away potential talent from the hospitality sector, which was experiencing sluggish growth and offered limited opportunities during the past few years.

How has inadequate staffing affected the industry in terms of loss revenue and profitability, in addition to lowered guest satisfaction?
It is not the shortage of manpower but the shortage of skilled as well as motivated talent, which has a direct bearing on the guest service levels. This, in turn impacts the guest loyalty and advocacy factor, thereby impacting potential businesses. This shortage of motivated and skilled manpower can also lead to high staff turnover, as one has to be very passionate about working in our industry to make a career. A high churn rate is never a desirable situation for any business, as it increases cost and impacts customer service and ultimately profitability.

Which is the most critical challenge when it comes to manpower management in the hospitality domain – attracting talent, retention, or retraining?
Today, attracting the right talent and retaining them is a big challenge in the hospitality sector. Historically, our industry didn’t have the best reputation due to long working hours, to match a business that operates 24/7, and the intense work of being in touch with customers pretty much all the time.
A number of hospitality companies have started reacting to the signs of time, by implementing talent management practices that are more conducive to the new generation. Many others, unfortunately, are still applying fairly archaic practices around compensation, scheduling and working hours, which doesn’t do much good to the reputation of our industry.
Compared to previous generations, millennials demand to be heard and expect an interesting, relevant and faster career progression. They want to know exactly what is expected of them, and are looking for ongoing feedback on how they are progressing. Moreover, they do not value job security in the same way as their predecessors did, but will stay with their employer as long as their career progression is interesting and experiential; they move jobs regularly if they see a clearer, more stimulating and rapid path to a senior roles with a better work/life balance.

How does a high attrition rate put a burden on the existing staff in the longer run?
The higher-than-usual turnover definitely takes a toll on other colleagues, as well as on the internal recruitment, onboarding and development function. We often see that turnover also has a significant impact on customer satisfaction (or NPS, in our case), as new colleagues need time to settle in their new roles, and their buddies are often taken away from their day-to-day jobs to assist in their onboarding. So yes, the high turnover in many places does affect other existing colleagues, if employers don’t plan for measures to alleviate this additional stress.
At Hyatt, we try to anticipate turnover based on historical data, and ensure that we have a pipeline of motivated colleagues to join us when opportunities become available. This way, the onboarding process becomes more fun for existing colleagues, and also provides them with a great learning opportunity to develop others.

How can hoteliers create an encouraging work environment for associates?
At Hyatt, we are trying to create a workplace that is conducive to all generations currently in our workforce. Keeping care in mind, and anticipating the expectations of colleagues who will join us in the future, we introduced some decisions to enhance the work culture of our colleagues. This commitment, launched by our group president and VP for HR, includes a five-day work week (or eight days off a month) for all colleagues, work rosters published a minimum of seven days in advance so that colleagues can plan their schedules and have a better work-life balance, adherence to working hours so associates leave on time and get compensated for hours worked, and a Global ‘Family Assistance Policy’, which includes among many other benefits a fairly unique paternity leave.
Since its implementation in 2017, this has significantly impacted the engagement levels of our colleagues and has emerged as a key employee value proposition in attracting the right talent. We have also empowered our colleagues to chart their own careers plans, at their own pace, and they have a free-flow process to move to different Hyatt-branded properties and locations across the country, region and even the world.

In addition to initiatives like overtime and other benefits, how else can hoteliers avoid existing staff ‘s burnout?
Wellbeing, alignment with an organisation’s purpose, and tong-term job satisfaction is the key to avoiding staff burnout. Colleagues today are looking for roles that are meaningful to them, where they can align their own values to the organisation’s values and purpose.
Talking about values, our CSR programme, Hyatt Thrive, gives our colleagues the opportunity to care not only about our customers and other colleagues but also about the community and environment. April 2018, which is our Global Month of Service across Hyatt, saw our colleagues in India put in more than 9000 man-hours for the betterment of the community.

How has Hyatt evolved some of its hiring practices to get more candidates through the door?
Our search for talent has evolved from and is guided by the belief that hiring individuals with tremendous passion about caring for others will produce better results, such as the ability to connect with guests and other colleagues, than simply focusing on prior experience. We believe in caring for people so they can be their best, and in order to fulfill our purpose from a recruiting standpoint, we have a global task force, made up of colleagues from all over the world who are exploring ways to improve our recruiting processes across all countries we are operating in.
Going along with time, recruiting today has to be digital as well in order to attract the new generation to the industry, and to our hotels. We have an interactive talent website that allows candidates to experience Hyatt before they join us, read and view testimonials, and hear about potential career plans. If they like what they see, hear and feel, the site also facilitates an easily on-line application process, where candidates can potentially apply to any opportunity across the many countries we are operating in.
We implement a variety of practices to reach out and attract the right kind of candidates – from employment advertisements and recruitment videos on social media channels, to a career site designed to help potential candidates get a sense of Hyatt’s culture. We also have Colleague Referral programs to encourage our colleagues to refer external candidates. Historically, referrals stay longer and perform better because they share our same dedication of delivering authentic hospitality and caring for others.

While many hotels promote the idea of hiring local employees, do you think it is practical and possible in the hospitality industry?
Companies that embrace diversity and inclusion in all aspects of their business statistically outperform their peers. At Hyatt, we believe that diversity and inclusion in our workforce, workplace, and marketplace enriches our perspectives, expands our thinking, extends our knowledge and enhances our creativity and innovation. It is through the effective harnessing of all people, that we strengthen our position as a leader in global hospitality for our colleagues and customers around the world.
We understand that demographics alone do not automatically make us an inclusive workplace. We can only be a truly diverse and inclusive workplace if the people who work at our hotels can be themselves. Our programmes and policies in the diversity and inclusion arena are centered on the promotion of individual authenticity. Encouraging individual authenticity makes it easier for all our colleagues to provide authentic hospitality to our guests and colleagues.
It is both practical and logical for a hospitality company to hire staff locally. Although, the talent pool of skilled and motivated colleagues is not very big, we predominantly hire locally on only bring in talent from abroad if specific skills or experience are required.

How has Hyatt tried to reduce its internal turnover rate to retain more of its existing staff?
Our selection process begins with attracting and engaging candidates that share Hyatt’s values. Our leaders find candidates that share our values, and can help us brining our purpose of care to life. Secondly, they find positions that fit prospective colleagues’ passion and skill set. It is critical that our colleagues share a common value system to be successful in our company culture, and a role where they can bring their strengths to life. And when work is meaningful, and colleagues can potentially get into this stage of ‘flow’ because they do what they do best, then motivation will grow.
Often in our industry, the first 90 days is when you see the highest attrition rates when employers don’t handle the on boarding carefully enough. Our ‘Welcome to Hyatt’ new hire orientation is specially developed to integrate new hires into our culture and introduce them the authentic hospitality that defines our brands. Through a design thinking process involving empathy interviews with dozens of newly hired colleagues, we learned what our new hires want – and don’t want – from their orientation experience.
Feedback Sessions are administered within 30 to 90 days of joining. This is an opportunity for new hires to provide feedback on their experiences to date, and to share suggestions on how the hotel can better support their progression. ‘Hyatt Talks’ are confidential, small group discussions that encourage colleagues to share their operational knowledge, insights, thoughts, viewpoints, issues and suggestions with a member of their hotel’s leadership committee.

What kind of flexible and individualised roadmaps for advancement does Hyatt provide for its associates who want to move up in the organizations?
We advocate internal growth and offer our existing colleagues the first preference for an opportunity before posting it to external candidates. We also have a robust transfer and mobility policy where we work diligently to provide a workplace environment that constantly challenges our colleagues to grow their careers in different roles and locations at Hyatt. We assist colleagues in fulfilling transfer requests to other Hyatt-branded properties around the world, and even provide the financial assistance necessary to help them relocate for these opportunities.
We also have internal programmes like Corporate Leadership Trainee programmes through which high-potential graduates are put on a fast track programme to become a first-time manager, New Manager Development programmes for first time people managers with Hyatt, and a Foundation for the Future for potential General Managers.
We also have a programme running where inter-department transfers take place. In India, we have managed to help colleagues answer their true calling. We have many examples where chefs have moved into sales, front office to HR, F&B Service to Production and Housekeeping to front desk, all across our various Hyatt properties in India.

Does Hyatt plan to rely on outsourcing non-core domains like housekeeping, maintenance, etc, so that the HR department can focus on more core functions?
The reason for outsourcing is usually not connected to the work of the HR function, nor to non-core, if related to housekeeping and maintenance, but is a business decision based on the market we are operating in. In some locations, there are opportunities to outsource parts of housekeeping and engineering; but we are still striving to provide the same working environment to colleagues from outsource companies as we do for other colleagues.
Outsource opportunities are more often considered for true non-core domains, such as administration or payroll, where real synergy can be created even between properties to allow us to spend more time and efforts on our core stakeholders – our owners, guests and colleagues.

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