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It has been a stunning year for the Firmdale Hotels human resources team. It was integral to the business scooping the Best Employer award at the 2017 Cateys, having been one of the highest-placed businesses in the Best Places to Work in Hospitality 2017 awards, and it can now add Hotel Cateys 2017 Human Resources Team of the Year to its trophy cabinet.
A major influence on employees in 2017 was Firmdale's Employee Engagement Week, a series of events curated to involve all departments in the wider businesses to network, upskill, learn and be enthused. During the week employees were inspired by Olympic medallist Leon Taylor, attended masterclasses, events, competitions and took part in the FirmdaleLife Facebook competition. The event was a huge success, prompting a 994% increase in traffic to the FirmdaleLife Facebook page, 14,282 video views in one week and a total reach of 22,232 people.
The people and development team not only delivers on the day job - with an employee engagement score of 83% and year-on-year improvements in the talent pipeline with 36% of vacancies being filled by those already in the business - but it has also launched a number of initiatives to ensure that Firmdale is considered an employer of choice. It has developed a consistent employer brand, Love What You Do, to bring together all people-related initiatives, masterminded the business's second graduate intake, rolled out 'insights discovery', which offers personality profiling for managers, and organised quarterly recognition events with nominees featured in celebratory videos.
From being a reactive, employee relations-focused department, people and development is now a hands-on, supportive function. They have built strong relationships with managers, ensuring they have the tools to manage HR themselves, but with the support of the team when required, who ensure that the people ethos, culture and values are never lost.
Of course, some of the things the people and development team deliver are initiatives that many other great employers do. The difference is how they do it. They think differently and they don't accept things as the norm. They look at how they can better something, make it more personal. Their team goals revolve around innovation, creativity and working intelligently with the operation to stand out as an employer of choice.
What the judges said
"Julia and her team stood out from the outset as a team who are embedded in the business and respected for their contribution to its success. The HR team's passion, energy and focus is evident in all Firmdale properties." Zoe Jenkins
"This entry was fresh, relevant and many of the team's new ideas and approaches to HR were inspirational." John Scanlon
"There is a clear focus on delivering innovative HR practices in the company which have clearly had an impact on the hotels. A fantastic people culture and ethos." Ros Young
The Belfry Hotel & Resort, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands
Firmdale Hotels, Principal People Team
2016 London Edition
2015 The Red Carnation Hotel Collection
2014 Dorchester Collection
2013 Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5
2012 Dorchester Collection
2011 Royal Garden Hotel London
2010 Jumeirah Hotels
2009 The Berkeley London
2008 The Dorchester London