Strategies for Hotel Human Resource Managers & Directors.
By Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA MHS
Wednesday, 9th September 2009
With the ongoing turbulence facing our industry and global economies, the responsibility to find the time to "think" has become even more critical.

The regrettable propensity for knee jerk responses is evident if one watches the daily rise and fall of global stock market prices, as companies and industries are substantially devalued for reasons that have little to do with the actual company's quality or performance.

On a localized basis, as much as we want improved processes and product, we need to remember to maintain the foundations of our successes and not accept the negativity of the naysayers.

"Quality begins on the inside... and then works its way out."
Bob Moawad (1941-2007) Founder and Former Chairman of Edge Learning Institute

This column addresses the very core of all hotels. Without the proper planning and implementation of staffing and service, a hospitality business that interacts with guests 24 hours a day for 365 days a year has little chance for ongoing success.
Over the years, this responsibility has had a number of names: personnel, people, staffing, workforce development and human resources. Smaller hotels may not always have staff dedicated only to this activity, but this responsibility remains the same regardless of hotel or staff size.

Today's hospitality HR Management team must be straightforward communicators and able to work under pressure because there always seem to be crises. Those crises might be anything from technology breaches to staffing shortages to accusations that need research, but thriving in a multiple priority environment is often a requirement

The primary role of the HR Management team is to lead and support senior management and department heads in all aspects of recruitment, orientation, training and development, employment issues, staff relations, and organizational development. The HR Management team must constantly communicate with all levels of staff to guide the hotel's commitment to service.

At times, this means making the most of staff strengths and developing staff and at other times researching and examining issues or situations carefully.

"A Baker's Dozen" of Strategies for Hotel Human Resource Managers & Directors

Administration, Planning, Training and Development

1.Sets all recruiting and employment activities for both management and hourly positions on a timely basis. This includes organized and structured processes for recruiting, interviewing, hiring and the retention of qualified associates. There should be current and detailed Job Descriptions and specifications for all positions to make certain that everyone's expectations are understood.

2.Coordinates or provides organized orientation or on-boarding for ALL new staff at the earliest opportunity and preferably before any guest contact. This support of the investment in "human capital" of the hospitality business is essential, as the cost of turnover has been a historical nightmare to many hotels. This initial contact allows the HR Management team to function as a strategic partner to the General Manager and/or owner, and establishes the value of day-to-day HR management oversight throughout the hotel.

3.Administers the salary policies and programs. This includes preparing or overseeing payroll, benefits enrollment and billing. HR leadership should also review and recommend to ownership or management potential new programs based on evolving needs in the workforce or the market.

4.Oversees all associate insurance programs and annually recommends new programs and related costs. Unfortunately, not all hospitality businesses offer health or other insurance to their staff but there are potential options. National, state/provincial or other hospitality associations and some major brands do offer some types of insurance options and these should be evaluated semi-annually.

5.Directs and coordinates performance evaluations for hourly and non-exempt associates. This is an incredibly sensitive topic at every hospitality business and HR must have a well-organized system to keep this communication process effective and equitable. HR should also review and recommend salary ranges adjustments to ownership or management as needed every 12 to 18 months, via local wage surveys.

6.Stays abreast of all national and state/provincial laws and keeps management advised of changes affecting associates and operations. The responsibility to ensure compliance with all national and state/provincial laws as well as local regulations and court rulings that may pertain to HR also rests with this function.

7.Provides counsel and assistance to all management personnel in regards to associate problems dealing with supervision and administration. Specific training for this should be maintained regularly, as there may be liability issues involved. Counsel is a very sensitive topic and must include following hotel and/or company termination procedures

8.Acts as the primary communication center of any changes or new requirements in hotel or company policy and procedures as appropriate.

9.Directs and administers associates' reward and recognition program. This might include an annual associate attitude survey, which should be reviewed by ownership and corporate management.

10.Prepares annual budget forecasts for the Human Resource department. This is especially important relating to benefits and training expenses.

11.Oversees the safety program and Workers' Compensation Benefits.

12.Maintains all hotel personnel records and HR files ensure confidentiality,

13.Coordinates management development and associate training. This might include preparing with department heads a list of top talent within the hotel and introducing talent development plans. Specific training on systems and area-specific protocols, however, should remain the responsibility of the department head, and training programs may include brand-specific and/or local focused training.

The effectiveness of today's hospitality HR Management team is substantially dependent on a good relationship with all department heads. They must be self-motivated, with an intrinsic desire to see others succeed. They must be able to recognize potential in others and assist in their development. Finally, they must be able to either do it themselves or lead a small team to focus on the desired results and changes needed for continuous improvement.

Feel free to share an idea for a column at johnjhogan@yahoo.com anytime or contact customized workshops, speaking engagements or me regarding consulting.

Autographed copies of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD a COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES can be obtained from THE ROOMS CHRONICLE www.roomschronicle.com and other industry sources.

All rights reserved by John Hogan and this column may be included in an upcoming book on hotel management. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication.

John Hogan, a career hotelier and educator, is frequently invited to participate at franchise meetings, management company and hospitality association industry events. He is a successful senior executive with a record of accomplishment in leading hospitality industry organizations at multiple levels, with demonstrated competencies as a strong leader, relationship builder, problem solver and mentor. He conducts mystery-shopping reviews of quality in operations and marketing, including repositioning of hotels.


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