3rd April 2019

With a central focus on people, hospitality is an industry where employee attraction and retention is king. This comes into sharp focus with uncertainties caused by political and economic events like Brexit, with reports of reducing numbers of EU8 being a particular cause of concern for the industry, and leading to more temporary workers being placed in 2019 than in 2018 across all industries, including hospitality*.

The UK’s leading independent hotel management company, RBH, aims to be a driving force in ensuring that hospitality is seen as an industry of choice by a wide variety of people looking for a diverse, rewarding career. And its Director of Human Resources, Martin MacPhail, has announced major changes internally to make this goal a reality.

The hotel operator, which has more than 40 properties amongst its growing portfolio, has moved its HR focus from generalist to specialist in a bid to further its ethos of finding the right people – and keeping them.

Martin said:

Our internal HR team has always been made up of generalist roles – people with a broad knowledge of all facets of recruitment and human resource – which in the past worked quite well for us.

However, over the years we’ve been trying to shift and challenge the perception that working in hospitality and hotels is a short-term career option. More recently, we have had to deal with labour market changes that have resulted from uncertainties surrounding Brexit.

To spread the message that hospitality is a rich and long-term career path both externally, to those we want to attract into the industry, and internally, to those we want to retain, nurture and develop, we’ve had to make changes at our very core, which has meant evolving from generalist roles and focusing on three main specialist HR areas.”

The strategy has seen three top HR specialists take on key roles across the RBH group – but not, MacPhail insists, at any detriment to the more general knowledge that is undoubtedly still required from a central HR function.

He continued:

I’m lucky enough to have a team of HR leaders with a wealth of general experience, but a keen eye on the three areas we as a business want to focus on as an employer of choice – culture, learning and development, and talent.”

As a result of the changes, Niki Fincham, the existing Group Learning and Development Manager is joined by Joyce Broomhead in the role of Group Talent and Resourcing Manager and Hannah Elliott as Group Culture and Reward Manager – both of whom were formerly Area HR Managers within RBH.

Between the three, they boast more than 70 years’ experience in hotel industry human resources, and have each been tasked with three main areas of focus to truly position RBH as an employer of choice.

Martin added:

Niki has worked in the role of Group Learning and Development Manager since 2011, and has set up some truly pioneering training initiatives and programmes that have opened up myriad options for our team members in terms of career paths throughout the group. For example, the Pyramid Programme, which is aimed at catapulting promising heads of department into Deputy General Management roles, has just entered its fourth year. Over the last three years it has seen 21 graduates step into more senior positions as a result of personal mentoring and focused skills development workshops.

The work that Joyce and Hannah will carry out will perfectly complement the work already being undertaken by Niki. As Group Talent and Resourcing Manager, Joyce will act as a dedicated in-house recruiter, focusing on employer branding and attracting the very best talent; whilst Hannah, in the role of Group Culture and Reward Manager, will concentrate on compensation, wellbeing, communication, engagement and ensuring our teams enjoy their work.

The reward and culture element is especially important, and equips us with the tools we need to attract and retain the best people. Hospitality attracts common misconceptions about low pay and long hours, and we want to combat those stereotypes and demonstrate just how rewarding a career in the hotel industry can be.

This marks the start of a whole new approach for us – one that we’ve been working to introduce for a number of months. It’s a prime example of how RBH is constantly evolving to ensure we’re delivering the very best results, whether for our owners, our hotels or our people.”

*OnRec – 8 March 2019: Employment fears as EU net migration drops to 10-year low