The Caterer

Hotel Cateys 2019: HR Team of the Year

29 November 2019
Hotel Cateys 2019: HR Team of the Year

2019 winner: Aviator by Tag, Farnborough

Sponsored by Davidson Asset Management

Consisting of just three full-time staff, the HR team at the four-red-AA-star, 169-bedroom Aviator by Tag hotel in Farnborough, Hampshire, looks after approximately 150 employees.

To increase employee engagement, Aviator entered the 2017 Best Employers in Hospitality survey and the HR team quantified this data further through focus groups at entry, supervisor and head of department level.

From this, key themes and trends became goals for the team. After re-entering the survey in 2018, the hotel’s scores improved by 3.45% following initiatives implemented across the business, including introducing a four-day working week in the kitchen and an overhaul of the employee review process. The HR team also launched its own bimonthly survey in June 2019 to gain more understanding about how employees feel about their working environment, development and pastoral care.

With recruitment an ongoing industry challenge, over the past year the team’s focus has primarily been on employee retention through training, internal promotion and development.

This focus has been wide-ranging, from Wine & Spirit Educational Trust and financial qualifications to product training and internal leadership modules.

As a result of all the training taken up last year, Aviator achieved 100% management retention, and overall retention for the hotel at the half-year point this year was 89%, a significant year-on-year improvement. Recognising a skills gap at supervisor level, which coincided with a lower retention level, the team devised a two-day, off-site training course, covering areas such as finance, HR and soft skills.

The Aviator team has used social media and postcards to promote vacancies within the local area, introduced an innovative employee referral scheme, and engaged with local college and university careers fairs to drive direct recruitment.

As a result, agency recruitment costs fell by £35,000 between 2016 and 2018. The HR team has been driving awareness of employee mental and physical health in the workplace over the past 12 months. At the hotel’s quarterly all-staff business communications meetings, the team organises activities including complimentary health MOTs and shiatsu massages, and meditation and mindfulness sessions. It’s no surprise that employee attendance is above 90%.

The team has also introduced free weekly pilates classes and a quarterly wellness week. Two employees have become mental health first-aiders, while a further 10 have trained as mental health first-aid champions.


“This team has demonstrated that in a very challenging market they can attract, retain and develop an engaged team.”

Zoe Jenkins, general manager, Coworth Park

“With a relatively small team, they strive and exceed the programmes and schemes of other, larger teams with much more corporate support, which continues to keep them at the forefront of the HR industry.”

Katie Meyrick-Scott, general manager, Battlesteads


  • Aviator by Tag Farnborough
  • Bankside Hotel London
  • The Dorchester London
  • Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane London
  • Kew Green Hotels


  • 2018 the Ned, London
  • 2017 Firmdale Hotels
  • 2016 the London Edition
  • 2015 Red Carnation Hotels
  • 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

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