Mandarin Oriental Creates An Impactful Work Environment For Employees.
By Melanie Nayer ~ Exclusive Column
Wednesday, 23rd February 2011
Stress presents itself in various ways, in various jobs throughout all industries, but the hospitality industry faces a different type of stress.

On a daily basis, hotel employees manage hard-to-accomplish requests, customer complaints and the daily dose of management expectations. We've seen reports detailing difficult customers, harassment claims and damages to hotel rooms. Still, it's the hotel employee's responsibility to manage each issue with grace and dignity.

In a recent article published on 4Hoteliers.com, writer Andreas Augustin discussed the details of Mandarin Oriental Bangkok's new O-Zone, a zen-like area in the hotel accessed only by employees and meant to be a place of zen and relaxation. I caught up with Mandarin Oriental to learn more about their employee empowerment approach, and get their insight on how this luxury hotel brand helps employees manage the day-to-day stress of the job.

Mandarin Oriental set up 'stress free' zones in various hotels around the world, including Singapore and Hong Kong. The areas, in general, are open spaces where employees can wind down and relax after a shift. Similar to an employee lounge concept, the 'zones' are usually comprised of movies, comfy sofas and chairs, food stations, gym equipment and some facilities offer yoga classes and spa treatments specifically for employees. Each zone varies by destination, but the concept is the same: to create a safe and relaxing environment for employees.

So what about managing the everyday stressors that pop up during a shift? Debbie Schwarz, HR Departments Learning & Development Manager for Mandarin Oriental, New York, says an open dialogue among staff is the first step in combating difficult days.

"We are constantly talking to colleagues about things they have to deal with. Everything is first time," said Schwarz. "It's about encouraging people to be empowered, creative, think through the process and think about what might come next and how we can improve."

In Washington, DC, for example, the Mandarin Oriental offers a "colleague resource center" to help employees balance their personal and professional lives. Services including weight loss programs,language services, stop-smoking programs and general personal therapy services to deal with everything from domestic abuse to financial problems are offered.

"I am conscience of the stress that people could suffer in their working life which can parlay into their perosnal life," said Amanda Hyndman, General Manager of Mandarin Oriental, Washington DC. On a monthly basis, the hotel hosts an employee success event where Hyndman presents a financial update, quality scores, shares guest feedback and hands out awards for employee successes. celebrating success.

"My personal philosophy is that people need to understand their role in the organization to make a contribution," said Hydman.

"We have 57 different nationalities of colleagues in this hotel, all with different languages and different shift hours. It's important to make sure people know they're appreciated. Everyone likes someone to say thank you to them. You can never do it enough."

Melanie Nayer is a hotel reviewer and expert on luxury travel around the world. She has covered all aspects of hotels including corporate restructures, re-branding initiatives, historical aspects and the best of the best in luxury hotels around the world.

Melanie writes a weekly exclusive column for 4Hoteliers.com
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