Akin to passing autumn clouds – to paraphrase the words of Buddha – today’s workforces are becoming more transient.

There is a growing belief, shared by many, that employee loyalty is fast becoming a thing of the past; that tying one’s colours to the company mast is anathema to young workers. However, this should not be confused with the idea of the downtrodden ‘company man’ of yore, whose allegiance to the company came before anything else, including himself, family and fellow employees. Instead, today’s hotel operators are presented with the challenge of conveying a simple message to their workforces: career progression and contentment is at your fingertips if you stick with us. Players are being forced to rise to the challenge of incubating talent and fending off competition from rival hotel groups, as well as outside industries.

Training from within

“Whether it's in our industry or other industries, there is more mobility among the workforce in general,” says Iñigo Capell, executive vice-president and global chief resources officer at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. “If companies don’t give talent what they need, it will go elsewhere.”

According to Capell, 75% of Rezidor’s general managers are ‘home-grown’ – an impressive statistic that emphasises the group’s onus on educating and nurturing its people. “There is a natural link between developing talent and driving the business,” he adds. “Put simply, we know that the better our people are, and the more successful we enable them to be, the better and more successful our business will be. We grow talent because we know our talent grows us.”

Rezidor’s investment in this area covers a mix of classroom and online learning, as well as on-the-job training (OJT). The latter has “proved very worthwhile”, according to Capell, and was revitalised and implemented as part of a new programme.

The group runs one-day training sessions that are overseen by a certified on-the-job trainer; these have a maximum of eight participants or can be tailored to suit individual employees. The hotel's demographic is department trainers, who will help to increase the number of OJTs available at the group’s hotels across the EMEA region.

“One thing is constant in our industry and life, and that's change,” states Capell. “We are living in hectic times, but just because things change around us, it doesn't mean that we need to say goodbye to the tried and tested methods of development.”

“[OJT] is all about increasing ability, instilling the required behaviour and empowering team members to act. The focus is on team members learning new skills and understanding their powerful impact on creating the desired guest experience.”

A programme that thrives

Matthew Schuyler, Hilton’s chief of HR, mirrors Capell’s sentiment of a changing society. “We are living in a fast-paced world, where work and home lives are busier than ever,” he says.

With the aim of ensuring ‘our leaders and teams are working smarter’, Hilton launched a new initiative, Thrive@Hilton in July.

Developed in partnership with Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global – a new start-up focused on sustainable sciencebased education that enhances the performance and well-being of workers – it is already available to Hilton team members in over 103 countries.

With features that include various employee benefits – such as access to wellness programmes, paid family leave and flexible work environments – the scheme's central focus is dedicated to getting the very best out of talent.

“This focus begins with strong leaders, as we embed sustainable and mindful leadership in all of our Hilton leadership development programmes – from general managers to VPs and future leaders – by way of in-person and virtual learning experiences,” says Schuyler.

And how will Thrive@Hilton help the group to differentiate itself from competitors in the area of staff learning? In Schuyler’s eyes, the science of improving the health and wellbeing of the workforce is a branch of education in itself. Team members, he says, have access to Thrive toolkits, resources and guides and global e-courses that are designed to reduce stress.

“We are incorporating Thrive training into all of our leadership development curricula to help scale our efforts and drive change from the top,” explains Schuyler. “In short, Thrive@Hilton brings an additional level of expertise and science, in order to ensure our team members are able to balance work with other aspects of their life.”

More diversity and equality in the workplace

Training can be something of an umbrella term in business. Coordinating employee programmes with different brands and functions can be difficult for Hilton, Rezidor and other hotel groups that have thousands of staff spread across far-flung reaches of the world. To bridge this gap, Rezidor holds yearly talent review meetings across its covered regions, where “each and every employee, from heads of departments, is discussed in relation to their performance and potential,” says Capell.

“We then map succession plans,” he continues. “The language that we use to discuss each person is the same, setting the mark for what 'good' really looks like. We have many very important tailored programmes that support our ambitions as well.”

One that springs to mind is the group’s Mentee initiative, which has been designed to fast-track potential talent into functional leader positions, including general managers. “It’s a bespoke programme that develops the skills needed to have a challenging, exciting and long-term career at Rezidor,” explains Capell. “We are also very passionate about diversity at all levels, and one of our key focuses right now is balanced leadership.”

This also entails having a stronger female representation at the general manager level. In 2015, Rezidor launched STEPS, a scheme that aims to help women who are identified as having strong potential from area talent review meetings, to advance in the group. It is also hoped that this will motivate others to do the same.

In the two years that the scheme has been operating, 54% of its participants have reported career advancement, says Capell, who was promoted from a general manager position to the group’s people and performance division. In a recent survey, 74% said they would not have been promoted as quickly, or as easily, if they had not attended STEPS. The remaining 26% had not yet been promoted, but were keen to make the most out of an opportunity to progress.

“We don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach to our talent, recognising that we are all individuals with different skill sets and abilities,” says Capell. “We also don’t believe that there is one pathway. Just look at my progression. With a robust succession and development plan, we believe that if someone has the ambition and ability they can get to where they want to be, whether that is in operations or within a specialist support function, or somewhere between the two.”

For the hospitality industry, people are the greatest asset a business can have.

Working to get to grips with the current market

In today’s ephemeral job market, are Rezidor and Hilton’s efforts to incubate their talent and attract fresh blood enough? Is the European hospitality sector in danger of losing out to a brain drain? “For the hospitality industry, people are the greatest asset a business can have,” says Schuyler. “Attracting and retaining talent is one of the most important challenges facing our industry, and as sector leaders, we are extremely committed to providing a great place to work for current team members and the next generation of hoteliers.”

While conceding that Rezidor has, on occasion, seen strong talent head for the exit, Capell sees it as a revolving door, in which individuals can return to the group just as quickly as they left.

“Our people are passionate about the industry, and, as their careers evolve, their journey quite regularly takes them on a different path,” he states.“But they find themselves back at Rezidor. Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to go elsewhere to see something new.”

Progression: Hilton Worldwide University

With over 300,000 team members across corporate offices and hotels spanning more than 100 countries, training is a large-scale effort for Hilton Worldwide.

Hilton Worldwide University (HWU) provides more than five million hours of training each year with more than 2,500 courses that are delivered in a wide range of training formats, including classroom training, eLearning, webinars, ebooks, live and taped programmes, recommendations for on-the-job learning experiences, social learning and more.

Such an extensive curriculum enables team members to choose the right courses based on their role and individual development plans. HWU is guided by a strategic partnership with the company’s business leaders, who provide colleagues with remarkable opportunities for growth and success across the organisation.

The overriding philosophy is that ‘team members own their development’. HWU seeks to provide them with the tools and insight for endless learning and development opportunities; however, the institution is not only driven by creating the hotel managers of tomorrow. There is also an Owners College that is committed to supporting Hilton Worldwide’s property owners and franchise partners through scheduled programming and ongoing development opportunities.