The Top Hospitality HR Role: Beyond a Seat at the Table

By Ken Greger Partner, Ward Howell International | March 17, 2019

In my years as a retained search firm partner, I've heard many times the 'complaint' from human resources executives that they don't have – but want – a seat at the 'table.' The 'table,' of course, is a metaphor for being part of the inner circle, the Executive Committee or C-suite. While I believe this is not only important, but critical to successful enterprises, there is a bigger picture to consider.

But first, some basics: A company's approach to human resources (HR) is, in my opinion, philosophically based, whether by design or default. While there are various shades of importance placed on HR by top management, the bottom line is that a company either cares about its people or it doesn't. It either deeply understands the connection between people, performance and profit or it doesn't.

Anyone who pauses for an instant to think about it knows that every business – no matter what its product (unless we're talking about Bitcoin) – is comprised of people. It is people who make the company successful, and many of them are far removed from the 'table.' They are on the frontline in hotels, factories, and technology companies, to name a few. And, speaking of a "few," very few of the people at the table are making money for the company – revenue is being driven by those frontline employees who serve the customers, and by the sales force, etc. None of this is intended to infer in the slightest that those occupying the C-suite aren't valuable, nor is it my intent to get off track defending their roles. Rather, this commentary is focused on how the top HR executive can add real value.

In her article, Why Every CEO Should Give HR a Seat at the Table , Char Newell, sHRBP, CCLC, CRC and a member of Forbes' Human Resources Council, recounts spending the majority of her career setting up HR departments for companies that didn't have one, and points out that many companies operating without an HR department see personnel matters only as an administrative function (payroll, employee records, compliance, etc.) and don't see the value in HR. She goes on to state the following:

Organizations stand to gain a lot of value from having HR at the table. Our job is to care, nurture and discipline. We build trust while setting the tone of the organization. How we welcome and train each new hire determines the course and the direction of the company. Having a seat at the table allows us insight into the minds of the leadership team and expectations of the department.

At the end of the day, the most typical complaint HR receives is "there's no communication." This is why understanding the thought process of each leader is so important. I've been through a few mergers and acquisitions, and I've found that employees are not updated nearly as often as they should be, especially with all of the planning that the process involves. Often times, messages get tied up at the highest level and never make it down the line to managers.

Choose a Social Network!

The social network you are looking for is not available.

Close

Hotel Newswire Headlines Feed  

Stephanie Hilger
Sridhar Laveti
Robert M. O'Halloran
Megan (Sterritt) Taylor
Suzanne McIntosh
Daniel Link
Coming up in May 2019...

Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.