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Grand careers at Grand Hyatt

Published on Friday, 02 Mar 2012
Jeanette Robson (left) and Vida Chow (right).
Photo: May Tse


Companies that neglect employee learning and development miss out on one of the most important factors in hiring and managing their employees. Furthermore, beyond this, learning and development hugely contribute to the company's bottom line.

Therefore, it is no underestimation to say that learning and development is a massive unique selling point for a firm in terms of recruitment, retention and the development of employees. It is absolutely integral to a company's human resource management.


Our employees have the opportunity to develop through the highly systematic structure of the Hyatt Leadership Network that comprises four units - the School of Hospitality, offering skill training necessary for the job; the School of General Studies, covering product knowledge and service skills; the School of Management, that trains managers; and the Leadership Institute, for general managers or those who will shortly become general managers.

Fresh hires receive a personalised development plan that starts with a three-month intensive programme, covering all the knowledge that is needed for the position and which is completed and graded at the same time that the probation takes place. This is followed by additional training which is to be completed in six months to a year.

Every employee has a "Performance Development Plan" (PDP) with objectives set at the beginning of the year, with agreed-on learning and development activities.

This is followed up by a mid-year review and a year-end summary. The PDP and the twice yearly follow-ups uncover any staff development needs.

To top off development opportunities, our employees can participate in "cross-exposure programmes" usually within Asia Pacific, to share best practices during a short stay in another property - and on "support assignments" of three to six weeks, helping out at hotel openings or special food promotions.


We, at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, no longer use the word "training", because we believe the expression to be "very one-way", and passive, which does not accurately reflect the learning process that our employees undergo, to acquire the necessary knowledge for their jobs.

Neither does the word include the aspect of development that is the next step, taking employees to the destination that they want to reach. 

In maintaining our core message, we regularly update teaching materials, helped by in-house experts and consultants.

Learning and development managers are sent on a full week's programme in their first year to ensure the consistency of their delivery. After all, they are our culture carriers who carry the Hyatt message.

These kinds of meetings are intermittently organised for members of the management team as well, helping to develop a support network.

Outside experts are also hired for specific purposes, such as language teaching, first aid and safety. Knowledge is localised through the contribution and participation of the management in the teaching process.

The internal branding is systematically worked out and mirrors the guest experience. Just as the guests book, are welcomed at check in, interact with staff and get a big thank you when they leave, so too do employees apply for a job, are welcomed and receive orientation. 

Future plans 

Measuring the results of such a development programme is not easy, but there are signs of its impact. Our goal is to drive preference. This refers to the preference of customers, employees and investors. Talent development is hugely important to driving preference, with some of the key indicators of success being employee engagement, employee turnover, guest satisfaction, revenue and profit.

We track the repeat guest factor, and the likelihood or frequency of guest recommendations. For our Hyatt satisfaction survey, we contact guests who stayed with any of our hotels in the previous month.

There is a consumer audit programme - or "mystery shopper" - while the outcomes from the leadership training can be seen by how the leadership team manages the business, change, our employees and customers.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong was the winner of the Aon Hewitt Best Employer Award in 2011 in Hong Kong and in Asia Pacific.

Editor's Note This is a joint contribution from Jeanette Robson (below left), training and marketing consultant, and Vida Chow (below right), HR area director, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

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