Author Archives: Esther

  1. Blog ‘How can employee benefits be utilised to help attract and retain modern-day staff in our ever-competitive employment landscape?

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    Here are some of the key messages from the DAM research….

    “Society is forever undergoing change”

    Competition for staff is becoming harder and adding to the cost of high turnover, disengagement and recruitment costs, as well as onboarding and all the other stuff plus disruption, causes real concern. It is critical that we get this right and er’s should empower staff and support them through all the pillars of their employment.

    So what did they find out about this growing generation of our workforce? Gen Z makes up about 50% of the workplace now and this is expected to grow over next few years (hype statistics – they are always on their phone, selfish and only interested in themselves as a generation!!). Not true!

    Watch Simon Sinek interview on ‘Millennials in the workplace’ great video clip that positions an interesting viewpoint on the supporting part employer’s have to play…..

    Have you really considered what this generation wants in terms of benefits in the workplace DAM did qualitative, quantitative and focus groups research along with interviews, here are their findings;

    Finding 1: Communication is key; generic emails for onboarding is described as impersonal they want more regular communication and not have to seek it out they want more regular comms and Apps for alerts is now expected as the norm. Millennials want the opportunity to choose how they are kept informed….face to face, however, remains extremely valuable and builds trust. Mobile comms and Apps allows er’s to regulate communication. New technology enables you as er’s to keep in touch and reach out to staff.

    Finding 2: Knowledge is power: Just how aware are your employees of the benefits you offer? For many, they actually do not know. They expect transparency on your benefits package and want that clearer understanding of benefits at different levels clear tangible goals they can strive for at the different levels that benefits apply to. They appreciate the ‘touch of a button’ shopping basket approach to benefits. Does your provider invest in ethical funding as part of the pension provision? Many would like to know this as many do not know that their pension is a benefit, they see it as a normal part of their contract. Many would like to know what your organisation stands for (ethical piece) understanding what your ee’s want is key. Provide an annual benefits statement so people can see the long term value.

    Finding 3: The significance of Staff Wellbeing; Younger employees said they would rather invest in property than a pension, but they want to be empowered to make better financial decisions. Yet this is also the generation that is most likely to feel financial stress, so can you support them in this way? Do employers have a responsibility for raising awareness and educating staff as part of financial wellbeing? This could help part of your mental wellbeing initiatives and encourage more open discussions.

    Panel session

    The guest panel was Chaired by the wonderful Katie Jacobs; on the panel of hospitality experts were; Emma Jayne Director of People and Culture @ Dorchester and 45 Park Lane, Jon Dawson Director of HR @ Mandarin Oriental, Linda Stitger Director of People & Culture @ Four Seasons, Ninoska Leppard Group Personnel & Development Director @ Corbin & King and Dawn Vermiere Director of HR @ Grosvenor House Suites. 

    The shift in expectations: Often students and young applicants will first ask “So what can you offer me”?  Some er’s are also seeing a rise in the number of students applying for supervisory roles without experience in the role so how can you reasonably manage their demands and let them down gently without crushing them? Think about how you personalise and tailor your benefits to your audience that they can utilise for example; asking do you drive a car? If Yes, then tell them you can then get discounted car insurance! Ask, Do you do a weekly shop? If Yes, tell them you can get supermarket discount etc as part of the benefits of working for us. So, do you share all the benefits you offer on day one and in effect create information overload so they forget most of it, or could you spend more time later on with them telling them the most important things such as pensions?

    Financial wellbeing: some are already offering this and the impact has been really positive. Not taught at school even though it is a massive part of life. Mortgage workshops have been popular for some. So, what about getting your own accounts team to help your ee’s with financial planning? Should this be the er’s responsibility to educate staff?

    Mental wellbeing: This is more about BAU rather than a benefit and it is important to understand the language of the millennial generation, so saying ‘pull yourself together’ no longer works. Could more HR professionals be mental health first aid trained a valuable life skill to have and should this almost be mandatory for our role?  What about the impact of social media and self-worth and how people feel about themselves. Can we encourage people to follow accounts that inspire them rather than get fixated on how many likes they get? Shift patterns play a part so consider enabling more and more departments to move to flexible shift patterns and educate line managers that flexible working can work and how easy it can be to plan the rotas more. HR professionals have a massive role to play in work-life blend and balance and educating department heads in closing the gap between what senior leaders expect and to be more open to flexible working, as millennials do expect a better balance.  

    So what next? Some really thoughtful and interesting points raised by the panel for HR teams to consider. So now it is up to you to decide on what is relevant and what you need to do next. Get the senior leaders on board with the HR agenda and get them also to champion work-life balance and financial wellbeing. Use stats and data to support your agenda and share the impact.

  2. Case study – Excellence in employee engagement – Julia Murrell HRD, Firmdale Hotels

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    Close locations in London (but 1600 ee’s in UK and New York) unique that people can work in different locations just get off a different tube stop, they do not need to leave. Strong family culture driven by founders the Kemps.

    Four things that drive the business; design, the people, our high standards and inspirational service. As a business they deep dive into what their people think and the challenges people face. HR team really get insight into the metrics done monthly to see the trends and patterns in their people stats.

    This is what they did to engage their people…..They do breakfast clubs and in return for a full service breakfast they want to hear people’s views. Opinion page on their talent toolbox, best places to work survey gives them a lot of insight into what is important and they get rankings from this. Diverse workforce, 60% over age 30 and quarter more than 5 year’s service, third promoted in the business every year creates opportunities and giving people feedback on performance is key to retention. Getting social – people like the social side to the workplace, money rewards popular for the majority but not for everyone. They do a huge range of things to keep people engage, events to bring people together, so HR needed to build on what was already there but keep the family feel and have synergy with their guest brand.

    Strengthen communication was their first step – so set up talent toolbox dashboard to be in one place as a communication platform. Jobs, careers, HR policies, handbook etc updates messages all in one place. Everyone has access to the platform and they made sure there was something for everyone. Focused on the whole ee’ journey – kept it simple and made sure it was all joined up.

    “Love what you do” – combines family feel, values what you stand for and what you believe in. This is their engagement thread. They got ee’s together to ask them what they thought incentives should be and the simple answer form employees was to be rewarded for demonstrating the values, people get recognised with a mannequin representing the values and these are publicly shared. They get £1 for every value they achieve, if they get all 5 they get a bonus of £25. They use the incentive to reach the harder to get to employers who maybe do not serve guests, but the simplicity of the scheme means back of house people are fully included.

    Set up employee engagement week – a different focus each day, L&D, R&R, knowledge day and Values, Housekeeping Olympics, chefs relays etc  They have now invested in longer activity ‘Firmdale Live’ to make it an experience that everyone could join in one day a month to focus on the different areas. Recreated the event so it would fit in a bedroom! L&D got the bathroom (rubber ducks in the bath) make it an interactive activity to fairground tunes, wellbeing and benefits is a big wheel that people get to spin and you get asked a question to win a prize or do an activity, the third area is Firmdale Live and this focuses on the social side to life in Firmdale.

    Knowledge days – developed the idea of where suppliers come together from butchers (guess the weight of the lamb), Wedgewood get to make your own mythical creatures mug that get put in the kiln and returned to people, eat drink and taste things. In 2018 a quarter of employees attended this.

    ‘Love what you do awards” to recognise those who go above and beyond. It is all live streamed if people do not have the opportunity to take part they can view it.

    Yapster is a news feed and is a mix of WhatsApp and instagram where people can simply stay in touch and share messages. Brought all their platforms together for single sign on – talent toolbox, Flow their learning platform as well as Yapster.

    Personal career paths – use the platform to share with their managers on what they wanted to do, created an interactive path of all the different leaning opportunities they can get involved with. English lessons – fully funded for their employees each week and can take their B1 certificate also funded this led to 96% retention of these employees and massively improved their communication.

    The results – 10% increase in revenue last year, engagement over 80%, 72% retention and high referrals for friends to work there. 9% who leave do come back. Firmdale strongly believe that investing in their people and engagement really pays off and it is a collaboration of all people in the business making this happen.

    HR needs to be creative and really think about putting themselves in their employees shoes to be able to engage them.

  3. Karen Beaven PX Innovation Hub and Founder, The HR Entrepreneurs Network, ‘Mental Health Breaking the Stigma’

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    Equipping HR with the skills we need to deal with mental health. To set the scene; Shared open personal yet powerful experiences of a breakdown when it finally happened at work. Approach was ‘go home early and we will see you Monday’ often helpful intent but not what is actually needed. Sometimes our bodies will give us the massive wake up call that we need to get ourselves mentally and physically well again and reassess where we are and rebuild.

    The facts; Dr Carey Stephens estimated at least 50% workplace absence due to mental health last year this is very high and often people do not realise there is a problem. How effective are we in HR at noticing the signs when often our employees do not see the signs themselves (denial)? 3 in 4 mental illnesses start in childhood (Guardian), almost 40% of the public think people with a mental health issue are prone to violence.

    Common mental health issues – OCD, bipolar, stress, PTSD, panic attacks, anxiety. How do we spot these things coming up and how do we help? Spotting the signs – Extreme or marked changes in behaviour, changes in diet, stop eating proper food, tiredness, absences can often be warning signs. If you are open to having an honest conversation with each other ask your HR team how they might spot the signs in each other as a team, how they might say something when they notice the signs, can really help early interventions?

    If you suspect someone is not well how do you approach them – ask them if they are okay (they will say yes), but then say you have noticed (picking up on factual changes you have noticed) always use “I” not we, that has noticed…give them the chance to talk but if they don’t, just ask twice then leave it and tell them where you are if they need you.

    The First Response advice – this is often HR that finds themselves in this position, in all scenarios this applies; ensure your own safety, listen, acknowledge without judgement, support through providing information, direct towards professional help, direct towards other sources of support (Samaritans or EAP) and again ensure your own safety….

    Improve your strength and resilience in 10 days – small actions and techniques to improve your own reset or use for your team.  Tried and tested. Should we call it Mind Matters? Take the stigma away from using the word Mental and Health, this is a term used by the NHS.

      1. ‘This ain’t my stuff’ tree, Find a tree that you walk past everyday not in your own garden but close to work, at the end of a work day just gently touch the tree (so it does not look weird) imagining you are leaving work there all the stuff and thoughts and stress as you brush your fingers on the tree and you can pick them up in the morning  if you need to. This is a way to tell your brain it is okay to leave things and that you are not forgetting them though.
      2. ‘Shape your diet’; this is the absolute foundation of physical and mental wellbeing if you are fuelling yourself with rubbish your output will be poor. If you want to deliver quality results you need to fuel your body and hydrate. For 10 days keep a food diary, everything that goes into your mouth and bring awareness to what you eat you can resolve it yourself.
      3. ‘Sleep’; not getting enough, disturbed and interrupted Sleep Council suggests 7-9 hours is optimum for what we need. What are the reasons? Screen time in the evening (phone, TV etc) for last hour before bed no technology, ban it and try this to see if it helps? Do you keep your phone by your bed, maybe move it to somewhere else?
      4. Triggers and sources of stress; Post it note junkies! Think about every source of stress write one per post it note, turn it over and write on the sticky side up (the wrong side), divide them into 2 piles ‘I can do something about this’ and second pile ‘I cannot do anything to impact this’ then put them in priority order biggest stress first. Turn over the post it note to the correct side and write one thing you could do in that week to deal with the stress and work your way through the stress. Trigger of stress is on the reverse but the action you can do is facing you in priority order. The action you take resolves the stress. The pile you cannot do anything about rip them up burn them, you cannot do anything about it so do not hold on to it, let it go!
      5. Self talk; Believe you can and you’re halfway there! To get rid of self-talk that inner voice, who does it sound like? Is it another version of you or someone else? Think about praise as you need to reframe it make it sound like Yoda from Star Wars for some reason it works!
      6. Sources of strength – think about the things that bring you strength, a person, a song, a place? Write one per post it note and put them in priority order, then write down the last time you did it, or went there or met that person. Then ask yourself if you have become disconnected from these things? What are your ‘rocks’? Reconnect with things that bring you strength.
      7. Mindfulness; If you start to feel in the moment emotions getting out of control (cry, scream, shout) find 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Your extreme emotion will be diffused it gives your brain time to reset
      8. Choose your battles; You do not need to fight all of them in HR it is about energy, do you have allies you can call on to support you, Is it a battle you would put your career on the line for, could you back your team if there is a chance to win it, if you can answer yes then carry on.
      9. Bravery; think about it as motivation you can be brave if you are motivated enough. Question your purpose as to why you want to do something?  Train for something, prepare and learn as you increase your knowledge the fear starts to subside (public speaking for example). Set yourself up for a series of small successive wins on the way to build confidence.
      10. Your plan; give yourself a 10-day plan, do one thing a day where you put your own self-care first so you can be in a more robust position to support your team and company. We have to role model and embody it.

    It is important that HR embeds good wellbeing practices but also that we look after ourselves.

  4. In conversation with… David Taylor – VP Operations Principal Hotels with Janet Harmer, Hotels Editor The Caterer.

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    David has been involved in some exciting innovative hotels that have inspired the industry.

    A common thread for businesses getting it right is to have a solid Mission, Vision and Values and being really clear about what it is and being able to work out how to create the magic and how people are pivotal in this. David has been a key player for 3 distinct brands recently, that make people feel engaged and have a high level of ownership and therefore do the right thing for the customer if they think it is the right thing to do. We need to understand what we need to do, hire the misfits who maybe fail the ‘corporate perfect fit’ test and we need to think about the guest and then hire the right people. We know pay does not drive loyalty, but it is key to getting real time engagement, paying the right wages.

    What do you want to be known for? What is the story and journey you are going on? This needs to be clear and should start with your people proposition. This is why your ‘wingman’ HR person is critical to senior leaders, they work alongside you, HR needs to be fully aligned with the CEO and should be the go-to person for the leader. The approach to HR evolves and people’s perception of the brand, your employees want to be engaged with your brand, whether it is experiences we should be able to talk to our people about what the brand, style is.

    Skills leaders look for in their HR guru? HR leaders have accepted the role of being editor not always authors! HR leader today needs to be the author, writing the future, thinking about how we can do things differently, knowing the answer to fundamental questions like ‘that organisation chart looks 1970’s, how do we meet the requirements of millennials and younger, when it is so out of date’? We need to meet the fundamentals and think of strategies that are not only 3 years but 3 months to meet needs of next generation. How effective are we in HR at being the author?

    Engaging staff – not sitting in the office! GM’s should not be ‘floating’ around their business, they need to be ‘in the room’ let teams make the right decisions around the business but GM’s know what is going on. Leaders need to have that connection in their business, what is it that gives them that smile? We need to look differently at what we are doing; how do we get different people into our businesses?

    So, HR needs to be more author than editor!

    David Taylor MI FIH, VP Operations – Principal Hotels at InterContinental Hotels Group & 2018 Hotelier of the Year
  5. Angela O’Connor CEO HR Lounge – How to drive our own high performance

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    Productivity and engagement and what really makes a difference?  How do we create an environment to be productive and understand ourselves and our own role in being productive we are super great at managing others development and telling them why they should be engaged and putting together leadership programmes, but what about our views and ourselves? We need to do things for ourselves and not just for others. We have to make difficult decisions but always should be with integrity and kindness but what about our dreams and making them come true. IMF Global Productivity Crisis – doesn’t matter if you have the best benefits or rewards we need to utilise the skills and talents of our ee’s every single day. We may have great days or ‘crappy’ days this happens to all of us, but what about the traditional approaches we use to drive productivity and engagement we all do things similar, but the world has changed and things happen quickly, pace, digitalisation work is now 24/7 always connected….What we have been doing is just a backdrop to the important work we do we need to explore beyond the standard approach to give people ‘fire’ to shine?

    Helping people achieve their dreams – development and reward strategy creating meaningful work is just the back drop so how do we go beyond this? Boards realise they need to do a lot more than just the basics. Thinking about what else we can use the other connectors the role of the board or line managers.

    The secrets of the coaching room – nobody talks about performance appraisal other than to say they absolutely hate it!! Either delivering it or being subject to it. It should be a conversation not a tick box exercise. The other thing senior people talk about in the coaching room is talent management the 9 box grid ‘which box are you in’ how can you do this if your managers have never had a conversation with you. We should know ourselves well enough. We need to get people to open up and share what they really want; write a book, go on an adventure safari – our job in HR is to connect people and understand their dreams they bring their whole self in to work. We need to bring managers and their teams together and connect them in conversations to understand what people want and engage them in their work.

    We are all different – if we are going to understand peoples dreams in HR we understand how people are different the obvious; gender, age, race, disability, but there is a lot more to humans than just that. Our socio up-bringing is all different and this makes us unique. Some people are lucky they have people to talk to at work, but some do not. We need to be aware that it might not be safe to share what we want people are worried if they share their dreams and that the organisation may not want to hear what they want. We need to create time for people to have conversations….

    Drivers – what are our drivers for us personally? A love of learning? But what stops us or gets in the way – maybe it is a formal qualification, such as the CIPD? We often balance our learning with full time work, we never stop learning even things outside work? Making a difference to people’s lives is often a key part of our role in HR and the difference we can make through support, mentoring others so the receivers of our services our treated respectfully is important.

    What goes on in your head – imagine in a year’s time you were living a completely perfect life what would you be doing in the evening, who would you be with where would you live? Leave your selfish thinking and focus on what you would be doing. Until you start being able to visualise it and put life into it we do not always know what we want because we are running so fast thinking about outcomes. What 3 things am I putting up with right now? My boss, neighbours, awful commute, my partner or it might be you, are we getting in our own way? Finances if only I could it might be about the money, but there is lots we can do without money? Last visualisation – find a quiet chair shut your eyes and visualise that you are going to an appointment with yourself at 80 years of age, see where you live ring the bell sit down together and observe everything about 80 year old you and the 80 year old you has some advice what advice will you give yourself??

    How we experience the world – loads of tools out there that can help us, MBTi etc useful but nothing more than that. It is useful to figure out the environments we work well in and when we feel stressed what is driving this in us? What is it we do that leaves us feeling fabulous and what is it we do that exhausts us?

    How many hats are we wearing – we all have so many write them down you may be amazed how many hats we wear. What stage in our life are we at? Sometimes in HR we introduce one size fits all in terms of policies, but this does not always work. People want different things in work and life, how much do we ask people and take this into consideration, there are many things we don’t talk about such as mental health for example. Yet we bring all of this stuff to work.


    The good the bad the ugly – we need to understand what we do when things go wrong and we get really stressed, what are our reactions? Everyone may react differently, and it is good to explore some of these things in ourselves. The recipe for productivity ‘HR can’t do it all so think about some of the interventions you can use; cultivating mentors, coaching, sponsors, friend at work, networking, time to think, access to tools and access to learning can all be useful.

    Our job in HR is to create the environment to make it happen!


  6. Blog “Talent management and its role in the development of a customer centric culture within the hospitality sector”

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    Blog “Talent management and its role in the development of a customer centric culture within the hospitality sector”
    HR in hospitality event 07 June 2018 (Esther O’Halloran)

    Kindly hosted by DAM at the ‘In & Out Club’ St James Square
    Peter Reilly from the Institute of Employment Studies provided some great context to the start of the discussion. We work in culture of instant gratification where people are impatient and want to see change happening. Is talent management a strategic priority in your business? One of the challenges is that talent is hard to define and it means different things to different organisations, so where is your focus? Do you look at everyone as talent or just leaders, critical roles, HIPO’s or who has the potential to become future leaders? The model you choose to adopt will become your focus on talent development.

    There is a shift change in more bespoke products and development and a move from standardisation, so stretch what you offer. Rethink the way in which you organise yourself, structures, processes, incentives and building capability. Talent management needs to be reimagined so it will be a fundamental change from what you currently do if you want to stay ahead.

    There are some interesting themes that emerged through a recent study in ‘Worldwide Hospitality and Tourism Themes’ edited by Norma D’Annunzio-Green that challenge some assumptions and raised a number of questions:
    • Is hospitality a hire and fire sort of sector?
    • Do we make people go through so many hoops and ‘audition’ for roles?
    • Are the sort of jobs we are asking people to do a ‘big ask’ considering the wages we pay?
    • Have we shifted the power dynamic enough from employer to employee?
    • Do we put too many processes in place as we love a process, (but it can stop effective work)?
    • Have we been explicit enough in our definition of the behaviours we require and how we recognise them?
    After all, we are now in the experience economy where people expect to be ‘delighted’ by our service. So we now need to look at a different approach to talent management from the Supply side; hire for attitude and train for skills, build more than buy (set targets for the proportion of jobs filled internally). To Business integration; flexible development and deployment to Cultural development; performance management and reward.

    The panel discussion continued the debate further expertly led by respected industry journalist Katie Jacobs, alongside Andrew Stembridge, Eamonn Cole and Liz Cave. Some of the advice, insight and tips that came through from our experts really resonated with the audience;

    • Culture & Strategy – ensure talent management is part of your culture where everyone lives and breathes it, ensure it is embedded in your strategy documents. Healthy to have a debate around talent in the senior team, disagree and challenge each other. The younger generation will not adapt to your organisation you need to adapt to them and senior leaders need to be aware of this. One talent management strategy for the whole business does not work, there is no ‘one size fits all’, this approach is no longer relevant. Make it fit for the different departments, teams and individual needs. Leadership skills has become harder for line managers, the diversity of the skills they need today is 100 times greater than before, they are stretched in so many ways, so you need to set your strategy to know where as HR you need to closely manage talent and equally know where it can go wrong (those pinch points).

    • Talent exists in every individual - Consider how you structure your L&D, nurture and grow your talent from your KP’s, Housekeeping to FnB. Your philosophy should be to treat every individual as being equally important. Talk regularly to your people about how you can support their development, not just once a year. Ensure you have the tools and mechanisms to support them to be the best they can be. Consider how prepared are you to support the wider hospitality industry, think outside your own organisation.

    • Can you change the supply of people into your organisation? The retail sector is going through a tough time at the moment with many well known high street brands closing or shrinking their footprint. Many skills are transferrable between retail and hospitality, both are customer facing and provide service. We have some great stories to tell in our sector of how we develop talent, so can we tap into this and attract more talent from outside such as from the retail sector? After all we are a more attractive sector in comparison to retail!

    Interesting areas for us to explore and I would encourage your HR teams to really think wider about talent management and what this actually means for you and your organisation as well as the wider sector. Are we doing enough?
    The slides from Peter’s presentation will also be available on the HR in Hospitality website.

    Talent Management presentation by Peter Reilly 07 June 18 HR in Hosptiality

  7. Blog “Mental Health Awareness – what makes hospitality a stressful environment?”

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    Blog “Mental Health Awareness – what makes hospitality a stressful environment?”
    Panel event hosted by Mark Lewis CEO Hospitality Action (a force for good helping hospitality staff in crisis). HR in hospitality event Thursday 17 May 2018 (Esther O’Halloran)

    Hosted in collaboration with charity partner Hospitality Action at the Royal Lancaster London
    I was sat next to an amazing volunteer Denise Haugh who has volunteered for Hospitality Action since 1976 she has fully supported the charity since then and continues to do so today. Mark Lewis shared some interesting statistics on our industry to provide context to the discussion.
    1. Is your job a stressful one? Only 5% said rarely, over 50% said most of the time!
    2. 34% said colleagues had suffered stress and 33% were resigned to it, it is part and parcel of working life!
    3. Has stress increased in your organisation over the last 3 years? Over 70% said yes!
    4. When asked the main cause of employee stress 76% said work pressures
    So, are we creating a pressure cooking that is about to boil over?

    Here are some of the key messages that resonated with me and our HR audience from the panel;

    Do you have the right work structures?: Sally Beck, General Manager of the Royal Lancaster London recognises we are a 24 hour business that does not stop, shift work and late nights are the norm, but over the years expectations of 12-15 hour shifts are diminishing. Look at your structures, something is wrong if it requires those long hours. Hawksmoor HRM, Sofia Gassne says they have worked hard to drive a culture of 52 hours maximum and they do not allow a “Hell’s Kitchen” environment to emerge in their restaurants.

    Building a culture of trust: 39% cite poor management as a cause for stress! It is a pity that GP’s cannot simply sign a prescription for “get a better boss”! Take the fear out of discussions introduce mediation as an approach with disciplinary action being a last resort. Both the Royal Lancaster and Hawksmoor have trained their managers to mediate to resolve difference or conflict and creating a culture of trust has made a massive difference. Once managers are really on side and open to talking you will find that the number of disciplinaries will drop significantly. Take the stance and insist they sign a trust contract after mediation.

    Is hospitality any different to other sectors? Karen Archer MD at Law Express sees a greater prevalence in mental health issues being brought into work conversations. It may not always be stress at work it is often what goes on behind the scenes at home that can tip into the workplace. It is good to know the sector is no different to other sectors. In the service industry you are ‘programmed’ to help others and no often ask for help for yourself. Home and work overlap, life is complex and the world of work is changing so you need to know what goes on behind the scenes in your employees lives, what are they worried about, what is bothering them that can impact on their work. Set up support mechanisms that can help them.

    How can you identify that tipping point? Training is critical, we promote people into management but do not fully prepare them to take that step up. Managers are in a powerful position if they can spot those early signs. Prevention is often better than cure. You need to get buy in form leaders to raise awareness of EAP and hw that can support employees and managers do not wait for a crisis to happen.

    Is there an age difference to stress? Levels of depression are high among young men the social fabric of the millennial generation and the new digital natives or IGen (I want, I need, I must have, IPhones!) has added a different dimension to stress in the workplace. How will you deal with employees who expect to have their phones with them 24/7 when you inform them to put it away in their locker? How will you deal with their expectations that they will be head of the department within 6 months of joining at entry level? Adopt work practices and approaches that consider the needs of the next generation and how you will manage them.

    So the key takeaways Mark and the panel gave us to think about mental wellbeing were;
    1. Mind healthy = Mind wealthy: Work to remove the stigma still associated with mental health
    2. Trust: acknowledge and share to build trust
    3. Conversations: Create moments where honest frank open conversations happen.
    4. EAP: Our advice is make sure you have one and promote it in your workplace
    5. Watch: Simon Sinek on Millennials in the Workplace, they are tough to manage and are accused of being entitled and narcistic YouTube video clip
    6. Read: Mark Lewis blog on the HA website ‘Recovery through positivity’ a story of a young hospitality worker at Le Manoir getting back on track.

  8. Blog – “Resilience: Life after sport, from boot room to boardroom”

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    Blog “Resilience: Life after sport, from boot room to boardroom” Guest speaker Leon Lloyd, Leicester Tigers and England rugby player.
    HR in hospitality event Monday 12 March 2018 (Esther O’Halloran)

    Hosted by Park Plaza Hotels, Riverbank
    “Any type of transition is a scary reality that we all face in our day to day lives, be that a promotion at work” or changing a job. What are the transferrable skills you have and the things you have learnt and how can these help you? Leon Lloyd shared some really great insights and experiences that he learnt sometimes the hard way from sport, that helped him transition into a more business role and from a HR perspective there are some great lessons we can learn also.

    Here are some of the key messages that resonated with me and our HR audience;

    Mentoring: We all encourage mentoring in our businesses as a way to develop and support others and it is interesting to think of it in this way, not only for sharing our knowledge and experience but reflecting on what we have done so; “What would you tell a younger version of yourself if you had your time again?”

    People: Understand those around you so they can better understand you! What is the perception of your team or peers of you? How do people see you? When you think of Richard Branson or see his image an immediate perception is formed (entrepreneur, successful) even if you have never met him. He is often quoted as saying “The best way of learning about anything is by doing” and this is a good approach that we often adopt for on-job training. If you asked your colleagues to pick 3 words to describe you would they be the same 3 words you would use to describe yourself? Try it! The key point here is understanding your role within the team and appreciating other roles.

    Teamwork: This is critical to every organisation and very much so in a sports team. Leon likened organisation teamwork to that of key rugby positions and why these roles are critical. Think about your work environment in these terms; The Prop (usually the guys with the cauliflower ears who dive in head first, go places others would not want to….) these are your ‘Cornerstones’ the ones who do all the hard often dirty work but often do not get recognised. Or the ‘Worker Bees’ these are your Hookers in rugby the ones who co-ordinate things, work fast keep it all together, so who does that in your organisation? However, the glory and recognition often go to the Captain (and we cannot all be captains), we all have leaders of our business, but we also have leaders within our business! It is important that we get the balance right in our organisations and understand the roles people play in our teams, who are the real heroes in yours? How often do you walk around your business and see things from their perspective?

    Dealing with Challenges: Preparing for and dealing with change how ready are we? We live and operate in an increasing volatile, uncertain, chaotic and ambiguous (VUCA) world and being able to manage and support people through change and challenges is an important part of not only a manager’s role but also HR in supporting them. The Kubler Ross Curve is a perfect example to use when dealing with challenge and change. When Leon first shared the quote below asking us to guess the date of when this might be, our immediate thoughts were Brexit, or maybe the 2008 financial crisis but no, guess again….
    “It is a gloomy moment in the history of our country. Not in the lifetime of most men has there been so much grave and deep apprehension. Never has the future seemed so uncertain. The domestic economic situation is in chaos. Our currency is weak throughout the world. The political cauldron seethes and bubbles with uncertainty. It is a solemn moment. Of our troubles no man can see the end.”
    Harpers Weekly Gazette – October 1857

    This really made me reflect on the fact that some things just never change but how we deal with it does. So, thinking in terms of the constant change in the hospitality industry, what plans and support mechanisms do you have in place to communicate, engage and support people through change in your organisation?

    As with the Kubler Ross Curve the emotions and feelings people go through when dealing with any change is common, whether it is dealing with a change of team or boss or moving into a new department or organisation, it is important to remember how we could all easily dip into those lows. For HR and line managers we need to notice these dips and intervene to encourage and motivate people out of the ‘valley of despair’ and convince them they have made the right decision or to change the path if they need to.

    Sweet & Sour experience: To fully appreciate the sweet you must first taste the sour, reflecting on lessons learnt when you do not always ‘win’ (the job, promotion) or get that good news you hoped for. So a lesson from sport when players reflect after every match, what could they do better next time and who helped them win? Close your eyes and picture that winning moment. Who is the first person you call, what do you say to them, what does it feel like and who has helped you on your journey of success? Helping people to deal with setbacks and being prepared for winning is a key part of our role. “if it is worth having, it might painful getting there and it will certainly be a bumpy ride, but it will be worth it”

    So the 3 takeaways Leon gave us to think about resilience were;
    1. People: how do people see you and how do you want to be seen?
    2. Challenge: embrace challenge and change and control the controllable.
    3. Resilience: success is a journey not a destination. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

  9. “Mental wellbeing at work – How to manage employees with mental impairments in the workplace” – Blog: Wednesday 24th January 2018

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    HR in Hospitality event Senior HR Leaders Round Table dinner discussion
    “Mental wellbeing at work – How to manage employees with mental impairments in the workplace”

    Hosted by Fieldfisher, European Law Firm
    Nick Thorpe, Partner & Dr Mike Drayton, Clinical Psychologist hosted an exclusive round table dinner debate for a small group of members who are senior HR leaders on the challenges leaders face in managing employees with their issues
    Over a superb 5* dinner that would rival some of our invited guests establishments, that consisted of Brixham crab on seaweed jelly, Beef fillet with a bordelaise sauce followed by bitter chocolate mousse all served with wine of course, the conversation flowed. So I thought I would share some of the ideas, reflections and viewpoints that were raised around the table by your peers…

    “How does poor mental health impact on your business”?
    Stress and mental health are two of the top three causes of long-term absence from work. The most common sign to look for in your employees is ‘loss of concentration’ and the impact this has on productivity or guest service. They often take longer to perform tasks and even find it difficult to make decisions. CIPD research in 2016 found that more than three people in ten have experienced mental ill health while in employment. So it’s likely that we’ll be either affected ourselves by a mental health issue or be supporting someone who is. Former Health Minister Paul Burstow found that mental health problems cost UK employers £26 billion each year, averaging £1,035 per employee. You may want to start doing the maths for your organisation and calculate what it might be costing you!

    “Why is it so difficult to talk about mental health at work”?
    As an employer we have the responsibility to protect the rest of the team, however there is a shared responsibility with the employee, asking them “what would help you” is often a trigger for some solutions or adjustments that they think will help them. Asking them “what can you do to help yourself” is equally worth saying as this should be a two-way conversation. Some organisations have found that Millennials and younger employees are far more open about mental health issues and having open conversations about how they are feeling, it is part of their DNA and this is just normal for them to be talking about this topic. You may want to consider creating discussion groups that include representatives of all the different generations in your workplace as a way to start fostering an open culture!

    “How can you talk to an employee about their mental health without making things worse”?
    You need to foster an open culture and an environment where people feel they will be supported. Starting an open conversation with someone saying “I think you are really lucky if you get through life with no mental health issues” as a way to encourage people to open up to you, works for one senior leader. However does ‘calling out’ a mental health issue when it is not cause more reluctance for HR or line managers to tackle the issues? CIPD research identified that among people who describe their mental health as poor, 7% say this is the result of problems at work and 37% believe this is due to problems outside work in their personal life; however, the majority (54%) attribute their poor mental health to a combination of problems at work and outside work in their personal life. You need to acknowledge people’s feelings and show them you care for them as a person, give them the time to listen and trust that you will not make it worse!

    “Is it better for a person with a mental health problem to be on sick leave”?
    Consider what is ethical as an employer. You need to determine if the operational risks outweigh the legal risks when deciding if you have to let someone leave through a capability dismissal or agreement. Some of the practical pieces of advice shared around the table included; “Don’t ‘pussyfoot’ around an employee or keep them in a job they really cannot do” and “Don’t let the fear factor stop you dealing with the issue”. Quite often it is the HR person who picks up all the issues from the employees and absorbs their issues, so that over a period of time they too can start to feel low and take on the burden from the employee, soaking up all their anxiety through compassion and empathy. You need to be alert to your own HR teams behaviour so that this does not impact them!

    “Do you have mental wellbeing strategy”?
    We suggested making mental health a visible part of your wider wellbeing strategy, ensure that it covers both physical and mental wellbeing. Here are some of the top tips that leaders shared around the table….
    • Train the middle managers on how to listen, really listen, more actively and raise their awareness of mental health issues and what to spot, simply asking if everything is okay is not always enough. Offering half-day workshops can help demystify mental health issues.
    • We all provide emergency first aid and food safety training so why not mental wellbeing training as mandatory? Think of it as ‘Psychological First Aid training’.
    • Level 2 counselling course could be a good route for HR professionals and line managers to pick up on some of the skills and knowledge and confidence to deal with mental health conversations at work.
    • Think of the terminology and language you use when talking about the support you can give, “Executive coaching” is more socially acceptable than “counselling” especially for senior employees in your organisations.
    • Encourage use of your EAP and if you are seeking external expert advice consider choosing the right professional. Psychologists have a more holistic approach and are often better than your standard occupational health physician.
    • Mind the mental health charity and CIPD provide a lot of research and insight into the topic as well as advice if you love
    • There is a great TED Talk worth watching, only about 14 minutes on YouTube “How to make stress your friend” by Kelly McGonigal.

    We hope to do more events in this more intimate format throughout the year on other hot topics around the science of behaviour and of course the legal aspects that need to be considered.

  10. BLOG HR in Hospitality – Esther O’Halloran – 02/11/17

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    Today was the first time that HR in Hospitality had the opportunity to take a key part and partner with HOSPA at their annual conference held at the Royal Lancaster London. We often hear HR professionals saying they are ‘no good with numbers’ or ‘data is too complex and scary’ but today we heard from the experts who demystified HR data and we had the opportunity to gain insight into how you can use it. Our sessions from the HR experts inspired us and helped us believe that data is good and it is how we use it that counts. Here is a summary of their thoughts and key messages…..

    “Evidence based HR, friend or foe?” What came first people or data?”
    • Ann Whelan, Vice President HRD @ Jumeirah Europe
    • Laura Wigley, Global Talent Director Dorchester Collection
    • Emma Jayne, HRD @ Fairmont Savoy Hotel
    • Stephen Bevan, Panel Chair, Institute for Employment Studies

    Stephen Bevan - What motivates employees to turn up and stay with you? Good people data is critical to understanding and predicting employee behaviour. HR data can make the intangible more tangible (so you do not have to dance slavishly to the tune of the FD!) but we do need to use data intelligently, be able to interpret data and speak the right language. HR professionals need to assert the strategic people dimension more in their organisations. This is an area of untapped potential and challenges of the demand for HR data.

    Ann Whelan – Holy trinity of finance, general managers and HR and yes HR language can be different but we need to collaborate. Data has a huge part to play on the HR agenda and provides insight. It is of no use unless you can join the dots of data combine to create stories, predictions of going into the future, labour turnover, retention. Labour productivity is always a challenge so you need to go through an education process of supporting managers to make the links and read data from a cost perspective and support them in managing costs in line.

    Emma Jayne – Retaining the Forbes 5 star rating is important to us, this sets huge expectation of guests, there are 600 employees but in effect the employees are relatively new after the refurbishment. Started from a point of not having much data or systems. We started measuring engagement twice per year to champion retention and educating our leaders. Whatever we do if it is not measured it does not get done so this was our starting point we measure everything to do with our people on a monthly basis.

    Laura Wigley – Previously worked in a large engineering organisation where data was king and future workforce planning was 10 years ahead and very analytical. In hotels she had to think differently about the data, how to apply the context to make the right decisions so much closer to the team and guests. In hospitality you can apply the context of data and tie everything back to guest engagement scores. Can you show a ROi on training? Yes! But you need to look to the right data.
    • Forecasting and diagnostic work – you need to understand the data and link it back to the strategy of the business objectives and be very much aligned.
    • Payroll is often the single biggest cost in a business so you need to be able to talk about trends, it is expected and part of HR credibility, talk the language.
    • Data should allow you to have the right focus and support direction.
    • Data can help line managers manage and engage their team, it needs to be an effective tool.
    • Management team have so much data, daily it can be huge almost daunting where do you focus on the data?
    • Build skill set in terms of data analysis where do you start, how do you pare it down to one or two key goals and work out the focus. HR needs to build the skills set of analytics in line managers.
    • Spotting trends in data is not always a natural skill set for operators so HR needs to develop this. You need to take an individualised approach and consider the diversity of your workforce from millennials who just love data and can read it quickly to older employees who need more time.
    Quality of customer data feedback how would HR influence this and deal with it? HR have asked to be present during the feedback sessions with the mystery shopper along with other key managers, asked for photos for evidence to understand how this might work and be more involved. HR are looking at a whole business approach to review guest and employee engagement surveys input from both sides and outputs of the data so pulling different perspectives together into deeper insight.
    How can you use data on mental wellbeing in the workplace? What you tend to see more of is trends in absence, take time to have human conversations. Industry is very pressurised, long hours perception, mental health is an important area for us to focus on. It is difficult to put a metric on mental health, it is not specifically measured, but organisations do put in many wellbeing initiatives (doggy de-stress in work day 3 dogs come in for staff to pet them, use an App for our EAP). Thinking about predictive analytics can give you insights where to look but they do not provide you with context, you need to be able to see what is happening and measure other indicators to support and measure wellbeing.
    • Sickness absence most organisations will collect data on but mental wellbeing more challenging. How do managers deal with sickness absence and understand the underlying issues and look under the skin of the data? This will be down to the culture of the organisations. Managers are often the squeezed middle.
    What about small hoteliers who do not have sophisticated systems or resources? Set up a mentee in the business for your person to go to for support, focus on the Values of your organisation, leaders being effective. You can still make very good decision’s you need the basic demographics and do not forget to look at this and apply your judgement to inform decisions. Keeping channels of communication open for people to talk, this is hugely important in a small business.
    HR professionals are strong advocates of business success and have a unique set of tools and capacity to join up the dots, challenge their colleagues and be that critical friend to senior executives and look at different views.

    1. HR Session driven by people – How we use Soft ‘qualitative’ data
    Ann Whelan and Emma Jayne to speak on the softer side of data and how it can work to achieve that balance. What is soft data?
    Gathering of informal communications and information on employees can be so much more difficult to apply vigor. Consider the employee lifecycle and each stage where data might apply. Attraction – salary survey suppliers provide benchmarking competitors data, pay and benefits is an important area. Consider base salary and then added service charge and how we manage data around this, trend has changed in terms of how important this is. Recruit – using social media to send out the message of what it is like to work here, how dynamic and fun, look at the workforce demographics, video clip applications. Recruitment data such as time to hire in the business so use of technology and systems to help you recruit more cost effectively. Record where people (applications) are coming from (source) and what it costs, build on this data on internal talent not just outside the organisation. On-boarding – this can be a costly area but it is key to get it right in terms of impact of process and how critical it is within the first 3 months. Break it down into actual costs build it into your budget, negotiate with finance the benefits of getting it right. Develop – difficult to show the ROi on training, but you do need great platforms for individuals, traditional classrooms have almost disappeared. What systems do you have to support development. Consider not relying on annual appraisals why wait a whole year to find out how you are doing? Consider investing in an App so everyone has their own portfolio for their own development, the more digital you can get the better. Engagement – most organisations have data and surveys, how different are the engagement results and data for senior leaders in comparison to core employees. Looking at this data can help inform decisions around engagement activities. Retain – exit interview data is critical what data are you trying to pull out of this, what questions are you asking when people leave. Look to spot trends and patterns, share the data with department heads and involve them in the outcomes. Do not ignore the data and what people say the reasons are for leaving. Often you can spot trends and correlation with engagement surveys.
    From the audience - Solutions to upskill line managers create finance/data internal workshops for groups (disciplines) of employees such as Chefs, Housekeeping etc to help them understand P&L’s and data. Know the core competencies required for each job, use psychometrics and individual development plans to invest in closing the gaps for people as part of the development plan linking data with people to ensure you promote the right people. How do you track and measure the softer skills and training when you hire or develop people? Look at attitudes not skill first, spend time developing skills (90 days) ensure there is a buddy/mentor to support the training and assess.
    You need to find the balance between hard and soft data take the senior team on the journey (culture).

    2. HR Session driven by data – How we use Hard ‘quantitative’ data ‘Letting the numbers guide the story’ – Laura Wigley Talent Director Dorchester Collection along with Paula Zylia Head of People Systems for Dorchester Collection, present their case study and journey on bringing in HR systems and what benefit it has been to the business.
    Go to the numbers first! Influence you to make logical decisions and gain insights. Does HR need to shift the mindset on how much data they need and become more analytical? You need to know what external factors of the future might be, trends that will happen so you can consider what impact this will have on your future workforce and what you might need (people/skills). Use data to challenge assumptions and status quo! Use external data to put context into your challenges or concerns such as is your turnover really high or is it acceptable? Start with a problem then consider how data can help you find the solution (correlation).
    Issue – “lots of our team members aren’t interested in completing their personal development plan every year” (older workers with long service assumed not interested) First look at the internal data are the assumptions of line managers correct? Then look at engagement data and benchmark other organisations. Solution - make the completion of self-assessment as optional, saw an increase of completion. This was a simple way of looking at data and finding solutions.
    Issue - “Work life balance is an almost impossible factor to get high engagement on in the hotel industry” this was a problem and perception – solution look at the data, ask the direct questions to get the right data rather than go searching through the data to get the answer you want (added in a qualitative question on why people scored the way they had). Able to see the impact once data had been collected and reviewed. Do we have too much data? Consider how do you use the analysis, decide on what you focus on?

    Hard Data summary thoughts to take away…….
    • Solve questions, don’t look for problems
    • Do not lose sight of the context look beyond the numbers
    • Continuously measure the impact
    • Join the dots (all sources of data, finance, guests etc)
    Closing points - Predictive analytics use alongside other insight – do not use it to make all your decisions you may be missing out. Make sure you use the right one (such as psychometric tools), how do you get the wild cards you might need etc? Make sure you data cleanse regularly to ensure accuracy and ensure it can be useful to make informed decisions.