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Cateys 2017: Best Employer Award, Firmdale Hotels

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Written by:
Cateys 2017: Best Employer Award, Firmdale Hotels

Sponsored by Amadeus

Like all of the Top 30 Best places to Work in Hospitality, Firmdale Hotels puts  people at the heart of its business strategy. But despite its size, this operator maintains a family-like culture, with a positive working environment and regular get-togethers to enhance camaraderie and ensure everyone knows they  are valued.

Owners Tim and Kit Kemp are a regular presence among staff at their eight  London hotels, while people initiatives and recognition are discussed alongside service and standards, both daily and at quarterly board meetings.

This focus has delivered a 5.25% increase in revenue in the past year, while  employee turnover last year was 31% and employee retention 76%. A quarter of all employees have more than five years’ service.

Reinforcing this people-centric approach, three people and development  managers transitioned from an employee relations team to a hands-on support function at the end of 2015.

As a result, employee relations issues reduced by 54% in a year – a figure that has dropped a further 12% in the past year – along with a 34% decrease in long-term sickness absence.

Running through an employee’s experience at Firmdale is its ‘Love What You Do’  employer brand, which details the business’s culture and values. Its core  foundations are set out in its values, which are passion, enthusiasm, relationships, resilience and attention to detail. These values are lived in day-to- day operations and through numerous activities, including Friday afternoon teas, staff appreciation weeks, staff film clubs, bowling, company quiz nights, netball and football teams and a company-wide incentive programme. An annual summer picnic is also held for 800 employees.

In January 2017, Firmdale organised its first Employee Engagement Week. The  programme of activities and events was designed 2017 winner Firmdale Hotels
to showcase everything that can help support Firmdale teams to further their careers and make their jobs more enjoyable.

Informing such initiatives are formalised methods of collecting employee  feedback. Breakfast clubs are held quarterly, where employees from across the group give their  opinion on what it is like to work at Firmdale and what would make it a better place to work.

Meanwhile, people are kept informed on a day-to-day basis through the Talent Toolbox dashboard, which showcases what’s happening in Firmdale Life, internal vacancies, recognition and achievements, benefits and social events. In the first year of launch, Firmdale saw over 70,500 hits on the dashboard and 1,636 hours spent on the system.

On top of the numerous awards received by employees, the data speaks for itself. The 2017 Best Places to Work in Hospitality survey results indicated a 7% increase in employees who are proud to work for Firmdale, an employee engagement score of 82.66% (a 2.6% increase on previous year) and a 7.5% increase in employees who are happy to work at the business. And to confirm the success of the strategy, the Talent Toolbox temperature check demonstrated that 86% of employees ‘love what they do’.

What the judges said
“Firmdale has clear senior buy-in with good alignment and business energy. It’s great to see some truly unique and innovative approaches.”
Moira Laird

“This was an outstanding entry, clearly demonstrating a strong people-led  culture. The charitable work shows an ability to add value to the employee journey.”
Stephanie Hamilton

The shortlist
CD Pub Company
Ego Restaurants
Firmdale Hotels
The London Edition

The judges
Julia Edmonds, Lexington Catering
Stephanie Hamilton, ISS Facilities Services, Food & Hospitality
Jo Harley, Purple Cubed
Tim Jones, CH&Co Group
Moira Laird, Valor Hospitality
Emily Rockey, Humm Media
Steve Rockey, Home Grown Hotels & Lime Wood Group

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