Last week I attended the 10th annual HR in Hospitality Conference & Expo at the Talking Stick Resort and Casino in Scottsdale Arizona. This year’s conference was attended by approximately 550 human resource professionals across the U.S. The sessions were led by hospitality industry human resource executives, industry experts from Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, legal professionals and human resource consultants. Sessions included panels of HR Executives sharing best practices and their most pressing concerns, and legal professionals discussing and debating the latest regulatory changes and Supreme Court decisions such as the joint employer relationship and how the McDonald’s Joint Employer case will impact hotel franchise businesses, and the FLSA Overtime “white collar” changes that will go into effect later this year.
The conference focused on the current challenges for human resources today including the minimum wage movement – the fight for $15 an hour, how to work with unions – improving guest service and productivity while making the relationship beneficial to both sides, and strategies for working with hotel owners that identified key obstacles and how to build a healthy and sustainable working relationship. Diversity remained a top concern of the hospitality HR Executives with a large percentage of ethnic groups working in the ranks and over 50% of management trainees female, yet as you move up through the management levels to executives, this drops drastically. There are still fewer than 10% female General Managers on average. Sessions focused on obstacles that impede movement of ethnicities and women into upper management levels of their companies and on programs and policies that promote the inclusion of all diversity categories such as recruiting sources and management training programs that target ethnic groups and on various work-life balance initiatives such as flexible work schedules that make it easier for women to succeed in top management positions such as General Manager.
HR Tips and Trends, is an attendees’ favorite session where respected industry leaders Debbie Brown of Four Season Hotels & Resorts, Carolyn Clark of Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, Robert Mellwig of Destination Hotels and Resorts/Lowe Enterprises, and Alan Momeyer of Loews Corporation shared best practices and expert guidance on key HR strategies. Among the topics discussed was doing away with the Performance Review and in its place creating a culture of feedback and provide specific training such as training managers on the art of conversation. Wage compression was a serious concern with the upcoming FLSA overtime changes combined with the increases in minimum wages across the country.
Innovation and out of the box thinking were themes that ran through many of the sessions as human resources look to keep up with the fast pace of change such as new and pending regulations, state and city living wage ordinances, state sick leave regulations, employer health care, methods of communicating to employees and future employees that is effective to the varying needs and motivations of each of the four generations in the workforce today. They are striving to embrace failure and the lessons that emerge, nurture all ideas versus immediately dismissing, try things – don’t wait for perfection, include non-experts who can add fresh new out-of-the-box ideas to old processes. These innovative HR leaders are thinking about and piloting some new ideas and approaches to many of the HR challenges such as the performance review process, working on new approaches to employee engagement and embracing the changes that the millennial generation is bringing to the workplace.
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