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Keeping staff motivated is the key to happy customers, says Claridge's general manager

02 April 2010

Running a luxury hotel is an exacting business. In the current tough economic climate, delivering the service that customers expect is more important than ever says Philippe Leboeuf, general manager at Claridge's.

One of the most critical ingredients in Claridge's success is our people. From the moment a guest walks into the hotel, each of our employees plays a part in ensuring they receive exceptional service.

Motivating every individual to deliver this quality experience is therefore a responsibility that I take very seriously. During my career I have worked in Paris and New York and both France and the US have very distinct challenges when it comes to employee relations. Everything I have learnt in these environments has played an important role in shaping my approach to employee engagement at Claridge's.

On the one hand this means ensuring that staff have the training and the practical tools that they need in their roles. We have a very strong HR programme to help deliver this.

To keep morale and motivation high it also very important that we ensure our employees are fit, healthy and enjoy a strong sense of wellbeing in the hotel. We have invested much time and energy in creating a genuine culture of wellbeing at Claridge's. We are therefore very proud to have recently received a new Investors in People Health and Wellbeing Best Practice Award, in recognition of our efforts.

For me, one of the most important ways in which we create a strong sense of wellbeing is through a culture of openness and communication. I rarely spend much time in my office - and when I do the door is always open. Instead I like to spend as much time as possible on the floor, interacting with fellow colleagues and of course guests. This helps ensure that I am always in touch with the issues that employees face in their day-to-day jobs. Importantly it also means that I get to know them as individuals. Understanding when employees might be under pressure in their personal life - perhaps because of illness or a bereavement - means that we can provide them with any additional support they might need at work.

Of course, creating a sense of health and wellbeing is not something that one person can do alone, so a big focus at Claridge's is to ensure this is very much a shared ethos. All of our people, particularly those with a management role, are encouraged to work hard to maintain a sense of family within the hotel. In fact, strong engagement skills and a supportive management style are things we insist on in our staff and when we are interviewing candidates.

The bottom line is that keeping staff motivated to keep Claridge's at the top of the industry is an everyday effort. Tackling challenges and enjoying success are very much shared at Claridge's, however, and this commitment to our people has stood us in good stead.

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