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Holiday Inn offers room to be yourself

Published on Thursday, 19 Apr 2012
Holiday Inn Golden Mile Hong Kong’s director of human resources, Brian Liu (left), and its director of quality and training, Yuki Lu.
Photo: Berton Chang

Joining the Holiday Inn Golden Mile, the iconic hotel that has been a Tsim Sha Tsui  landmark for 37 years, must be like stepping into a well-planned world of existence, where every aspect of the business and every detail of the job have been carefully considered – including a commitment to employees.

Part of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), Holiday Inn’s main attraction to applicants is a well-thought-out programme of “room to be yourself”, says Brian Liu,  director of human resources (HR) and area champion of HR for Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

“At IHG, we value each individual’s passion to develop his or her career and talent. We have an environment where they can grow, develop and make a positive difference,” he says.

There are four major areas of development. “Room to have a great start” is ensured  by a thorough orientation programme, bringing new hires up to date on the company’s mission, values and vision.

“We want employees to understand and embrace all that because it is the foundation of teamwork for providing great services to our guests,” explains Yuki Lu, Holiday Inn’s director of quality and training, who hails originally from Taiwan and who joined the hotel after a long stint in the United States.

“Room to be involved” is the process of taking employees’ opinions into account through two employee surveys, one to find out their needs and another at the year’s end  to check the final outcome. “Room to grow” offers tailor-made training depending on the difficulties employees face. Everyone has a personal development plan indicating the type of training that would benefit them most.

“We delivered 700 hours of training and we had over 90 per cent participation in 2011,” Lu says.

There is also an e-learning platform where staff can study in their own time and space. “With the total number of employees at 450, our staff took 1,300 e-learning courses last year. We were  second in Greater China,” Lu adds.

The hotel is always on the lookout for outstanding  staff, says Liu, adding that positions are currently open at the front desk and in guest and bell services. The hotel is   seeking a reservation sales agent. The food and beverage department and the room division are also looking for staff.

To ensure low turnover, the hotel tries to hire people who fit in. “Starting from the selection process, we assess each candidate by asking them questions to establish if they love our ‘Winning Ways’,” Liu says.

“Winning ways” is the IHG value system that supports teamwork. It  includes “do the right thing”, “show we care”, “aim higher”, “celebrate the difference” and “work better together”.

“Celebrating the difference not only includes more than just race – everybody is different and only by respecting this difference can we work well together, under the same values and culture,” Lu says.

Beyond the IHG values, Holiday Inn has its own set of values and style that applicants need to aspire to with passion and belief. They should be friendly and open, rather than formal. They should also be professionally ready for the task, show they care for guests and colleagues, and take ownership of every task they do.

Aside from the advantages of a well-structured workplace, being part of IHG brings many opportunities.

“Multiple skills used to be important for opening up more opportunities, but now they are just basic for survival,” Lu says, referring to the cross-training opportunities between internal departments and IHG sister hotels.

Employees can also be promoted to new openings or other hotels within the group. “They can personally enter into the corporate recruitment system to see the opportunities with over 4,500 hotels,” Liu says.

There is also a talent-capture programme that recommends outstanding employees for promotion.

Lu and Liu say the hotel strongly supports those in need, so it organised 28 corporate responsibility programmes last year. To enhance team spirit, it also organises sport competitions as well as staff outings and parties. 

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