Excellence Through People Winners

06 November 2001 by
Excellence Through People Winners

People are the lifeblood of the hospitality industry. Building up a fully motivated and focused workforce is therefore the number one priority for all forward thinking operators, and is the raison d'Áªtre behind the Excellence Through People Awards.

Now in their third year, the awards recognise businesses that have formulated innovative and exciting ideas aimed at attracting, retaining and motivating staff.

Three winners of the 2001 awards, representing small, medium and large establishments, were honoured at a presentation lunch at Claridge's in London on 1 November. All have introduced inspiring schemes which are helping to create keen and long-serving workforces.

Organised by the British Hospitality Association (BHA) and Caterer & Hotelkeeper, and sponsored by the Savoy Educational Trust and the DCMS, the awards are an extension of the BHA's Excellence Through People programme which encourages the hospitality industry to introduce and implement best employment practice.

Amongst the ideas implemented by the winners and runners-up are initiatives for building team spirit, multi-skilling and flexibility of staff, greater empowerment of staff, improved induction and training opportunities, and closer working relationships with schools and colleges. All are concepts which other employers could adopt and adapt for their own workplace to help meet the constant challenge of staff recruitment, retention and motivation.

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Small Establishments (up to 24 staff) #### Winner: The Prestbury House Hotel Prestbury, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire Á¢Â€ÂœWe wanted to give a common message to all employees that they were part of one team with no barriers between departments,Á¢Â€Â says proprietor Stephen Whitbourn. To this end he inititiated a two-prong approach. Firstly, he set up a half-day induction programme for all new staff to undertake during the first three months of joining the hotel. This included information on the background and business direction of Prestbury House, together with individual training schedules for every employee. Secondly, a one-day team-building course Á¢Â€Â" held every six months Á¢Â€Â" was put together for all 25 members of staff. On these occasions, customer care training videos and outdoor problem solving exercises, followed by a staff social event Á¢Â€Â" such as bowling or a Chinese meal Á¢Â€Â" help build a workforce which is mutually supportive of one anotherÁ¢Â€Â™s differences. Á¢Â€ÂœAs well as providing a more effective and enjoyable way of working, it has also been beneficial to customers, providing them with a more enjoyable stay at the hotel,Á¢Â€Â says Whitbourn. ###
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Medium Establishments (25-99 staff) #### Winner Dalhousie Castle Bonnyrigg, Edinburgh Á¢Â€ÂœMagic MomentsÁ¢Â€Â initiated by reception staff at the 34 bedroom Dalhousie Castle have boosted both staff morale and guest satisfaction. Each of the eight receptionists has a budget of up to Á‚£10 per day to spend on helping to enhance a guestÁ¢Â€Â™s stay. For example, a guest who is travelling on to Inverness, might ask a receptionist some details about the city. A quick thinking receptionist would then buy that guest a guidebook to Inverness and present it to him or her later that day. Or, in response to a woman who had forgotten her lipstick, a receptionist would purchase a selection from which the guest could choose one, with the rest being returned to the shop. As well as empowering the staff, a competitive edge has also been created amongst them as, as they strive to come up with the most imaginative ideas or reach the top of the league table for being the most frequent giver of Á¢Â€ÂœMagic MomentsÁ¢Â€Â. Guest satisfaction has also increased by around 15% as measured by the guest questionnaire analysis. Á¢Â€ÂœThe initiative has really fired the enthusiasm and imagination of the staff,Á¢Â€Â says general manager Chris Ling. Á¢Â€ÂœIt has encouraged a Á¢Â€Âœcan doÁ¢Â€Â attitude and helps them understand why they are in their jobs in the first place.Á¢Â€Â ###
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LARGE ESTABLISHMENTS (100-plus staff) #### Winner London Marriott, Marble Arch London The opportunity for staff at the four-star London Marriott, Marble Arch to cross train in different skills has resulted in reduced labour costs and an increased opportunity for departments to share staff when the need arises. Discovery Cross Training was offered to all 150 associates (staff) within 14 departments at the 240-bedroom hotel during March and April 2001. Forty one-day sessions were subsequently completed. Caroline Lowe, the hotelÁ¢Â€Â™s human resources manager who initiated the idea, says that as well as increase the skills and abilities of associates to allow them to successfully fulfil the demands of their current jobs, the training also allows staff to become multi-skilled and flexible in order to increase opportunities for promotion into higher or sideways positions. As a result, associates who may have otherwise have left the hotel have been retained. Labour turnover at 31% is the lowest for a Marriott hotel within the London region. As a result of Discovery, a two week cross training programme has been incorporated into new associatesÁ¢Â€Â™ 90 day induction plan, allowing them to develop skills within critical departments. A new restaurant associate, for example, will also spend time in the kitchen, bar and banqueting areas. The programme is also available to existing staff wishing to develop new skills. ### Selecting the Winners Entries were considered within three categories: - Small businesses employing 25 or fewer staff - Medium businesses with between 26 and 99 staff. - Large businesses with more than 100 staff. In each category the judges looked for innovation and imagination, reasons behind the idea, proven benefits, ideas which can easily be replicated by small employers, and initiatives which represented value for money, #### The Judges Jane Cartwright, group projects manager, *Caterer & Hotelkeeper* (chair); Bob Cotton, chief executive, British Hospitality Association; Jason Fox, human resources manager, Brighton Thistle Hotel; Glenn Jones, club secretary, City of London Club; Julia Sibley, chief executive, Savoy Educational Trust; David Battersby, managing director, Hospitality & Leisure Manpower; Declan Swan, Hospitality Training.
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