Hand Picked Hotels consists of 20 country house hotels spread across the UK, so maintaining strong and healthy staff levels is crucial for success. Here we get the inside scoop from Lesley Pritt, head of training & quality on the group’s recruitment processes, training schemes and what they do to ensure every staff member is appreciated.
How do you advertise new job roles both internally and externally within the business?
Our vacancies are advertised on our website and our own online job boards and internal vacancy lists that are shared each week within the business. We also use a few recruitment websites that we know work for us. Though we do work with some agencies, the bulk of our recruitment is direct and we encourage that, not just because it’s more cost effective for us but vitally, it drives interested candidates direct to our brand so they can get a feel for our vision and values.
What techniques and avenues work best and garner the best response rate?
The recruitment websites work well for us but our recommend a friend scheme is very successful. It works on the simple basis that where candidates are recommended by a team member, that team member will be rewarded with a monetary incentive on completion of their friend’s three months’ service. We also run a series of recruitment fairs and our senior team often speak at local colleges to attract emerging talent. This works particularly well for engaging new spa and beauty therapists following their training.
What budget do you allocate to recruitment and training staff each year?
We allocate significant budget towards recruitment, training and retention initiatives across the year. Training includes everything from statutory training qualifications in areas such as health and safety, along with our Being Hand Picked induction process which is an intensive on-site programme which covers the focus areas that drive our vision and values.
Our sales team undertake external training each year and each of our central support team leaders has a dedicated budget to support their team members and their own professional development.
What training schemes do you currently have in place?
For every job role, we have a training journey mapped out that identifies the training each team member should receive from their start date, through their 12 week induction period and then beyond. This involves using a series of techniques from on-the-job skills training, customer service programmes, offsite training and online via our new Online Work Learning platform which was introduced this year.
We also offer apprenticeships, leadership development programmes for heads of department and general manager development programmes –a GM Assessment Centre – that identifies managers that have the potential to progress to hotel, deputy or general managers. It has been incredibly successful. From our last group, three were promoted to general manager and one to hotel manager, moving across the group to experience a new destination, product and team.
What is it that staff really want right now?
A work life balance is important but I also feel the opportunity for team members to get really involved in the business, have a voice within the workplace, be able to put ideas forward, be heard and see some of those ideas implemented – that’s essential for employee engagement and satisfaction.
To have an honest, open culture where business goals are shared is important but so is the opportunity for progression across the estate. We know our team members also care about our CSR policies too and we involve them in activities such as beekeeping, developing bird boxes, tending to our herb gardens and of course, local charity and community events.
How does your recruitment process work?
Generally candidates apply online and applications go into our recruitment system where the HR representative for that hotel or region will review their CV and make a shortlist. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to the telephone interview stage and then a face to face interview will take place following that. To make sure each team member is a cultural fit with our values and demonstrates our behaviours, general managers meet with every candidate before an offer is made.
What incentives and rewards do you offer?
We have flexible working options, life insurance and pension schemes as well as heavily-discounted hotel stays for team members and their friends and family. Employees are recognised with length of service rewards and our employee of the month/quarter/year accolade. Employee support is also taken incredibly seriously; with a completely confidential employee assistance scheme in place should anyone need to offer 24/7 helpline support and face-to-face counselling among other benefits.