Cateys 2021: Best Employer Award: PPHE Hotel Group

08 September 2021
Cateys 2021: Best Employer Award: PPHE Hotel Group

Sponsored by Nescafé (Nestlé Professional)

PPHE Hotel Group is an international hospitality and real-estate group with licence from Radisson Hotel Group to develop and operate Park Plaza Hotels & Resorts. It also wholly owns and operates the Art'otel brand.

With a UK headcount of 1,300, it is arguably a challenge to get the personal touches right. However, employee feedback from The Caterer's Best Places to Work in Hospitality survey, created in association with Purple Cubed, demonstrated that staff felt fully embraced during the pandemic, with 87% saying they were well supported, informed and prepared for a return to work.

Feedback related to a consistent personal management style, a supportive culture and HR's creation of ‘welcome back' and ‘big thank you' programmes for returning staff. There is a range of engagement initiatives and training interventions, both face to face and online, with a big focus on physical health, mental wellbeing and creating a comfortable and inspiring place to work.

A support strategy and infrastructure were also put in place to retain as much talent as possible and to reassure employees through their employment, deployment, furlough and, as a last resort, redundancy.

Regular engagement activities included quizzes, check-in conversations and newsletters, and teamwork was strengthened by senior leaders walking around all the hotels, open and closed, during lockdown to thank the people on the front line.

Regardless of their position, every employee was topped up to 80% of their salary, above the furlough cap, so no one would endure financial hardship. Free accommodation was provided throughout the crisis for all working employees who were unable to travel.

Leadership teams continue to be developed through the use of team-building events facilitated by an external expert partner using resilience modelling, activation response, leadership strategy and planning.

Talent, graduate, student placement and apprenticeship programmes have continued throughout the year, and an internal management foundation programme was successfully completed by all learners who enrolled in 2019.

What the judges said

"PPHE have gone above and beyond to ensure their people were cared for, engaged and had a continued sense of purpose. From practical help via an employee shop selling hard-to-get essentials to the leadership donating 20% of their salary to Hospitality Action, PPHE most definitely deserve to be Best Employer 2021." - Jo Harley

"I was blown away not only by PPHE's extraordinary community reach during the year, supporting the NHS and local communities with meals, but also their ethos in ensuring their people were cared for both physically and mentally. An outstanding example of how to thrive in a crisis. A truly worthy winner." - Andi Hirons

"A brilliant entry showing all the incredible work the team did throughout the lockdowns." - Steve Rockey

The shortlist

  • Cheval Collection
  • The Dorchester, London
  • Kaffeine, London
  • PPHE Hotel Group
  • Thomas Franks
  • Victorian House, Ambleside

The judges

  • Julia Edmonds, managing director, Lexington Catering
  • Jo Harley, director, Purple Cubed
  • Andi Hirons, people director, the Grand Brighton
  • Tim Jones, chairman, CH&Co
  • Julia Murrell, director of people and development, Firmdale Hotels
  • Steve Rockey, people director, Home Grown Hotels and Lime Wood Group
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