Putting People First at Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels

By Sujata Guin

Employee Engagement is critical at Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels!

At The Park, we put our People First. Our People Philosophy is clearly defined by our Mission statement: “We believe our strength is our people and we will encourage their development. We respect them as individuals and believe that teamwork, commitment and integrity are values that will lead us to success.”

In today’s world, the demographics in any workplace mostly include five generations of people – the New Generation which includes the Millennials (Gen Y) and the iGen also known as Gen Z who have recently started interning and training. There are also the Gen X, Baby Boomers and Traditionalists.

At The Park Hotels, our People Practices are continuously evolving to ensure that processes and policies remain relevant to the current times and team expectations. We have a vibrant multi-generational workforce comprising of almost all of the above: Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers. We aim to create synergy and connect between the diverse groups. It is important to be able to communicate, motivate, train and retain teams across the segments.

Considering that a New Generation of employees with different set of knowledge, attitude and aspirations are entering the industry, we try to refresh our HR practices to make the company-employee connection enduring & sustainable. In terms of the New Gen, we have been consistently realigning our internal people practices and policies to ensure we are able to engage, groom and retain them.

We make conscious use of Social Media and the Digital Space – ranging from our brand site, our Facebook Career page, The Park Connect Group on Facebook to the high end ESS module of SAP ERP.  ESS (Employee Self Service) is built on a SAP platform. This enables our employees to login from the comfort of their desks or homes and manage their attendance, leave as well as appraisals.

From the operations and business end, we have kept a huge focus on online selling and e-marketing & this matches the aspirations and needs of the New Gen youngsters. The availability of high end gadgets in our work place further creates inspiration & motivation among them.

Additionally, we ensure continuous skill building and competency building of the New Gen so that they can be groomed for and assigned challenging projects and roles (regardless of age or tenure). At The Park, one of our guiding principles is a strong focus on results along with corresponding Reward, Recognition & Appreciation for achieving the results. We recognize our teams through the following awards:

  • I Make the Difference Award for Outstanding Performance
  • I Make the Difference Award for Innovation Excellence
  • Special Awards or Spot Awards for immediate recognition of exemplary service or activity.

Reward & Recognition at The Park Kolkata.jpgWe also reward teams through various incentive programmes for Sales and Targets achievement. Internal Talent Development is a significant area for us at The Park.   Along with Apeejay Institute of Hospitality – our educational Partner, we groom, train & skill freshers and existing team members. Some of our learning and development initiatives are

  1. International programs – executives are sponsored for professional development programs at Cornell University, USA and others such as NUS, UCLA
  2. Programmes at Indian Institutes of Management
  3. Programmes at Apeejay Institute of Hospitality, our institute for hospitality and leadership education.
  4. Best practice tours within the properties to study benchmarking and best practices.
  5. National and international familiarization tours for F&B/ Sales/ PR.
  6. Chefs sponsored for culinary courses in Europe.
  7. Management Training Programmes
  8. Supervisory development programmes
  9. Induction and Orientation for all new hires under the program Welcome to our ABO (Anything But Ordinary) World

At The Park, we strive to maintain a Gender-Neutral workplace. We recognize and reward merit regardless of gender or any other discriminatory aspect. Career growth, task enhancements, compensation, etc. are determined on the basis of results, merit, competency & contribution to the organization.

Picnic 1.jpgWork-Life Balance is another important need and we strive to provide the same. Currently, we work five and a half days and the aim is to further enhance this balance. Overall, we aim to create a workplace that is Anything but Ordinary™ – built on fun, happiness, result-orientation, speed, technology, empowerment, respect and excellence.

Employee Engagement is critical! Taking it a step forward, it is more about keeping our teams “Enchanted”! We achieve this first and foremost, through Culture building. Our Culture Code – The Park Way emphasizes four basic pillars –

  1. To be creatively inspiring
  2. Spontaneously joyous
  3. Daringly different
  4. Make things fun

CSR .jpgWe infuse our practices with the above and build on our vision of “Leadership through Differentiation” & brand promise of being Anything But Ordinary™. Some of our initiatives are –

  • Fun @ Work & Positive People Practices We curate a host of activities and events throughout the year & offer a basket of benefits. For example, The “Get Set Go” Week is an annual affair that dedicates one week each year for all Team members – a week to celebrate our teams & us and say thank you for the service, support, commitment & contribution. The GSG Week has been recognized as a HR Best Practice in the 2nd edition of Dun & BradStreet’s premier publication titled ‘HR Best Practices 2017 – Transforming the Thinking’.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility – All employees actively encouraged and required to give back to the community. Example – Various charitable causes, World Environment Day, In-house cleanliness drives, voluntary donations to public causes, supporting senior citizen initiatives, orphanages and more.
  • Wellness and well-being – Annual occupational health examination, In-house doctor on call, In-house employee gym, participation in sports and athletics, tie-ups with various medical institutes & visiting consultants who educate our people on various health topics and conduct workshops and camps.
  • Paternity Policy for new Dads along with a robust Maternity Policy for new Mothers.
  • Recognition and Rewards – (a) I Make the Difference Awards (B) Special Mention awards and (C) Truly Extraordinary – An Annual Event that’s coming soon!
  • Refer A Buddy Programme – A popular incentive-based hiring program through referrals from our team members.
  • Welcome Back Programme – We look forward to welcoming back ex-team members with positive performance record and those who displayed contribution and commitment during their past tenure with us.

Empowerment & Autonomy is a huge differentiator. At every level of the organization, our people at The Park are empowered to work and act with autonomy and independence. This is most sought after & valued as has been reflected in our team surveys.

IMG_8731The Park Hotels was recognized with the Gallup Great Workplace Award in 2007, as one of the top 12 great workplaces in the world. In an internal survey that was conducted at The Park recently, 93% of employees stated that they loved working at The Park.  The Top 3 things that employees liked about The Park were – Empowerment, Learning & Fun at Work.  87% of employees stated they had good friends at work while 84% of employees felt that they had Fun at Work. In the Great Place to Work survey, The Park scored high on Credibility, Communication, Competence, Integrity, Support & Justice in the Trust Index Feedback.

Today, Attrition is a major concern in the service industry, more so in the hospitality segment which is targeted for its well-groomed and trained manpower.  We lose our people to the Aviation sector, Retail, Banking, BPOs, Educational sector, Cruise liners as well as the Food & Beverage sectors abroad. So retention of talent is a major focus area. Keeping in mind today’s “Gig Economy”, we are consciously designing a more Blended Workforce that comprises not only On-roll full time employees, but also Part- timers, Consultants, Contractors, Freelancers & other Contingent workforce. Work-from-home options and such are also actively assessed.

IMG_8711.JPGAs a progressive organization, we, at The Park, aim at promoting the well-being of our human assets. We give diverse opportunities to our employees to learn, grow and develop professionally and personally. Empowered to make decisions, function with autonomy, experiment, innovate and ask questions, our people are actively encouraged and supported as they explore and achieve their potential. Being an equal opportunity employer, we strive to build a stimulating, fun and open workplace that fosters teamwork, fairness, respect and diversity.

Sujata Guin is Corporate Director & Associate Vice President, Human Resources, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels Ltd

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