Reinventing Hotel Human Resources
By Erik Van Slyke Managing Director, Solleva | June 26, 2011
For the past twenty years, there has been an extraordinary amount of dialog among executives, HR professionals, and academics about reinventing the human resources function. The hotel industry, in particular, has called for improved HR effectiveness to respond to the property-level challenges of attraction, retention and training as well as broader corporate concerns such as cost containment and improved leadership capability. The goal has been to strike the right balance between higher quality, more strategic service delivery and cost-effective, operational efficiency.
Unfortunately, most HR functions have delivered neither the value promised by more strategic HR, nor the operational efficiency expected of new technologies, 6-Sigma, shared services or outsourcing. More than ever, organizations must rethink their approach to HR. They must redefine the underlying assumptions that guide transformation initiatives so HR can achieve a higher level of operational effectiveness, and as a result, shape practices that drive improved organization performance.
Nothing has revealed the core of this challenge more dramatically than the implementation of new HR technologies. Even simple technology implementations have exposed the extent to which HR functions have tailored data, process and HR governance to meet the specific requirements of countries, divisions, functions and individual managers. This decentralized complexity has made it tricky to achieve both efficiency and quality goals because of technical constraints and --- more painfully --- organizational resistance to any amount of standardization.
Consider the situation faced by the senior vice president of HR for one global company. After two years of being challenged by her CEO to streamline the operations of her organization, she put forward a plan that promised not only to reduce the cost of HR, but also to deliver "higher value" services that would enhance the decision-making of individual managers.
Three years into the initiative, the SVP publicly declared the effort a success as they achieved short-term cost reductions and delivered new technologies to the organization. Privately, she confessed the function was still "an operational mess" because they were far from the transformation required for sustainable gains to efficiency.
The result? It still took 3 months to get a basic headcount report despite new technologies, lower cost HR process, and the supposed increase to staff capacity for more "strategic" HR work. And worse yet, managers still complained about burdensome administrative processes and poor advice from HR professionals. As one manager complained, "HR limits our ability to manage well by overemphasizing outdated and ineffective policies and process."