Riding the Talent Roller Coaster

By Sue Sanders, EVP & Chief Human Resources Officer

If you've ever ridden Steel Vengeance at Cedar Point, you know the simultaneous fright and delight of riding a roller coaster. One minute, the wind is blowing your hair around while your car click-clacks up a steep incline; the next you are screaming through an equally steep drop.

In many ways, the heart-pounding, throat-clenching, palm-dampening experience of a truly great roller coaster is what talent leaders in the hotel business have experienced over the last 18 months.

First, there was a talent drought, and hotels scrambled to fill open positions.

Then came the pandemic, causing a free-fall from too many unfilled jobs to too many unfilled guest rooms.

And now, just as it feels like the ride is slowing, hotel occupancies have started climbing, picking up speed fueled by vaccinations and pent-up travel demand.

How can a hotelier keep the coaster car on the track? Is it possible to balance ramped-up staffing and bottom-line results?

We estimate an addition of approximately 33% to our workforce by July 2021 to meet forecasted revenue projections. At HVMG, we have been laying the track for just this eventuality. Here are three things we are doing to meet this challenge and protect the interests of both associates and owners.

1. We have equipped our hotels with new tools to attract talent.

"The rare balance between independent entrepreneurial spirit and access to quality support. HVMG has found a way to keep them both in harmony." - HVMG 2020 GM Satisfaction Survey

  • Our properties are equipped with a playbook of recruitment strategies to draw upon as needed, with the goal that each hotel is a leading employer in its market.
  • We offer flexible schedules and part-time hours to meet the workforce where and when they are available to work.
  • We have identified untapped candidate sources in each of our operating markets and work with hiring managers to appeal to them.
  • We meet people where they are across digital platforms and have stayed in close contact through our Talent Network.

2. We make our talent a priority all the time.

"I believe the company is looking out for the welfare of our associates, especially during this challenging time." - HVMG 2020 GM Satisfaction Survey

  • We are as focused on retention as we are on recruitment. We lead with culture and back it up with training and traditions that celebrate excellence, resulting in being named a Top Workplace in Atlanta (2018, 2019, 2020).
  • We help team members in need with financial grants through our Associate Relief Fund.
  • We were the first hotel company to provide paid time off to associates who choose to get vaccinated.
  • We invest in our associates through a proprietary development tool. Each year 25% to 50% of our General Managers openings are filled through internal promotions.
  • We listen to our teams and modify workplace policies to meet their needs.

3. We are always improving.

"Best management company I have worked for so far. Lives and breathes the culture." - HVMG 2020 GM Satisfaction Survey

  • Our associates are constantly in touch with leaders and peers from across the organization through a mobile-enabled communication application.
  • We survey wages and benefits in every market to ensure we are positioned competitively.
  • We actively engage with a variety of national and community-based programs to support diverse recruitment practices and improve the communities in which we operate.
  • We have increased the number of women in the General Manager role across our hotels by 10%, putting us at 45%. Women also represent 50% of HVMG's corporate Leadership Team.

From our long-term diversity and inclusion initiatives to our internal recognition programs, HVMG has never stopped caring for our associates. As a result, our hotels are prepared to meet rebounding demand head-on. We are firmly strapped in and ready for the bumpy ride ahead.

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