Ranking Human Capital from “taking them for granted” "the" link to success
— 13 C-Suite executives shared their view
Hospitality being the embodiment of people connecting to people, our human capital then automatically should be the most important asset we have. Every hotel or chain always talks a great deal about how important they judge their associates and all they do for them. But do they match their company values to their team members' values? Do they feel comfortable and able to empower their associates to deliver that important connection to their guests in full trust? Does selection still take place based on skill level and experience? Are interviews the right way to select?
In a digital tech world, where the environment and so many other demands take center stage and the financial influence of the past year's pandemic is so deeply felt, what should be the minimum base of human capital focus and what is your advice to all hotels/chains out there...
CEO, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa (EMEAA), IHG Hotels & Resorts
At its heart, hospitality is all about our incredible colleagues caring brilliantly for the guests who choose to stay with us. That's why it's vital that we invest in, and nurture, our people – all of whom have done such an outstanding job in the most difficult of circumstances since the pandemic began.
It's clearly people who bring a brand, a property and its surroundings to life. Their personalities and their work are what our guests remember, and it's why they come back to us.
We need to have enough people, doing a great job, to guarantee an outstanding guest experience – that will never change. But what about that has changed because of the pandemic? Many of you will know that we are facing significant industry staffing challenges across the Europe, Middle East, Asia and Africa region that I'm responsible for at IHG Hotels & Resorts, as well as globally. Many hotels are under serious financial pressure; not only are we having trouble hiring employees, but outstanding people are also returning from furlough perhaps without the necessary time for a refresher course before the doors (thankfully) reopen. And new recruits, many of whom may be working in the hospitality industry for the first time, are having to keep up with evolving health and safety advice. Everyone needs proper training and time to learn – but that's at a premium right now. At IHG, we've been focused on ensuring our hotels have the support they need to do these things – whether that's through new safety guidance, shorter, easy-to-access onboarding and new re-boarding guides or more frequent communication with leaders.
It's been wonderful to see so many guests return to our hotels, and understandably they have high expectations, especially as they've waited so long to finally get away. But while our purpose is to delight them, the human and financial challenges we're facing have never been more apparent – and that's why, at IHG, we're challenging ourselves to stay fully focused on our people while also constantly looking at how we can improve the efficiency of our operations – from bringing in new technology to pursuing better guest experiences and being as efficient as possible with how we work.
The right communications, offering relevant and regular resources that help people excel in their job, investing in training programmes, being clear on expectations and purpose – all these things need to have increased within hospitality during this pandemic. It's certainly been a big focus for us, not just for those working in our hotels now, but for those we need to join our teams as we recover and continue to grow.
How you deliver those things requires investment, too. And, one of our four global priorities is to Care for our People, Communities and Planet – ensuring we continue to prioritise our colleagues and keep this important area front and centre.
This pandemic has thrown a lot at us all and forced us to adapt in many ways, but our industry should never underestimate the importance of human contact. We need our people at their best to be able to deliver for our guests in the best possible way. A genuine smile, thoughtfulness, and an unforgettable experience – that's the beating heart of hospitality, and always will be.