Unwittingly, but perhaps fittingly, this issue carries a common theme: people. Obviously, Hotelier Middle East is about the hospitality industry, and its backbone is its people — so really, every edition is all about them. However, in this one, nearly every interview or feature focused on this topic as an important one.

I last spoke about managing teams and retaining staff back in October 2016, but while that’s definitely a major concern in this region, so is hiring the right people for the job, those who are qualified and tick all the boxes.

When looking for new hires, I’ve sometimes been told you need to look for personality over skills — because training can always be given. And I believe it’s about finding someone who has that elusive balance of personality and basic skill-set, which gives employers a foundation to work on.

With appointing the correct person for the job, AccorHotels’ Sami Nasser [see pgs 30-34] admitted that selection of people does take a lot of time — and for good reason. He added: “We really take our time because we are building a team for the future. An important thing for me is to build a team and let them grow with the company.”

So, recruitment is not an easy process, and sometimes hiring mistakes can occur, but once you have the perfect fit, then it’s the operator’s responsibility to keep them motivated. I absolutely agreed with what Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah general manager David Wilson [see pgs 36-38] said: “They often say that if you hire really good people they are already motivated — just don’t demotivate them. Give them the freedom, give them the scope to be able to deliver the service and they’ll really get the feeling of reward from that.”

Empowerment is such a powerful tool if used correctly. It can help not just motivation levels among team members, but also the business. As many hoteliers often tell me, ‘A happy employee means a happy guest’.

A few months ago, TFG Asset Management released a white paper titled ‘The Impact of Staff Turnover on a Hotel’s Income Statement’ and within that the research detailed what it called the ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors — the former is controllable and if not addressed can make employees decide to leave, and the latter points are uncontrollable factors which prompt employees to seek alternative employment.

After surveying 3,000 hotel staff in Dubai, the research showed that demotivation is caused by poor relationships, lack of growth opportunities, lack of engagement in the organisation, and job insecurity. All of these are termed as ‘push’ factors and can be addressed by the leaders of any organisation early on.

This was backed up by Hilton director of spa & fitness operations & development MEA Sharon Barcock, who, during the spa & wellness roundtable [see pgs 50-54] said: “People always think that it’s incentives or money that keeps people rooted, but every year when we do our annual survey with the team members it all comes down to support, the relationship and the investment we make into them in terms of education and development.”

Many hotel operating companies do have wonderful sounding programmes to train, develop, and nurture employees, and some also place extra importance on workplace wellness, which contributes to that happy employee scenario. The last thing you want is for your colleagues to wake up every morning dreading coming in to work.

The key is to emphasise the benefits of working not just in the hospitality industry, but also in the Middle East, and make it the happiest place to work.

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