HR has now joined hands with the business in its truest sense: Satish Kumar

HR has now joined hands with the business in its truest sense: Satish Kumar

Satish Kumar, Senior Director Talent and Culture, India & South Asia, Accor, spoke to Human Capital about the hospitality industry's outlook. He also shared how Accor is upping its talent game to support employees and business stay ahead of the curve, and how HR leaders can help organisations emerge on the other side stronger than before.


Uncertain. Struggling. Downbeat. These are a few words we’ve heard time and again about the hospitality industry since the pandemic. As grim as all that might sound, we’ve heard a lot of other words, too. Transformation. Reset. Opportunity. How has COVID-19 been a catalyst for change in the hospitality industry?


The ongoing pandemic has impacted almost every industry adversely. The hospitality industry is no exception. It has suffered a massive setback in both short- and long-term views. However, coping with the pandemic and experiencing how unprepared most businesses were to sail through such a crisis has paved the way for an all-new world that is much more equipped, capable, agile, and experimental than before.


COVID-19 has played the role of a catalyst, necessitating rapid business and workplace transformations. The hospitality industry is constantly reinventing and meeting the requirements of today while preparing for the future. Who would have thought of contactless check-ins and checkouts a year ago in the pre-COVID era?


Our transformation has been well received by guests. We have elevated our hygiene and cleanliness standards by launching the ‘ALLSAFE’ program and introducing new ways of engaging and collaborating with guests. The changes in the ways we operate will continue to meet the ever changing business requirements.


With several million people unemployed, there will be more competition for jobs. Moreover, the pandemic has dried up some roles while making others sought-after. What will be the top job drivers in the hospitality industry — now and after COVID-19 abates?


Until very recently, the hospitality industry had a very conventional talent strategy. However, the pandemic has brought many age-old practices and methods under critical scrutiny, leading us to consider new ways of collaborating with business needs. The people strategy required today is much more experimental and out-of-the-box. At Accor, reskilling and capability enhancement of existing talent is in tune with emerging new-age hospitality roles. We have reintroduced roles into skill clusters. A combination of build and buy strategies are being explored in line with current and future business needs while differentiating between roles and skills.


Revamping the entire talent strategy includes but is not limited to part-timers, professionals entering the second inning of their career, fixed-term contracts, a diverse workforce operating in changing roles aligned with evolving business requirements, and others, as the key drivers.


The available qualified talent pool that matches the requirement of the revamped talent strategy is limited. Therefore, getting the right people will be more difficult than ever before.


There will be increased emphasis on hiring for potential, attitude, humility, agility, and character, rather than primarily for domain knowledge. Culture alignment will be a game-changer when it comes to ensuring the right fit for any organisation.


Some capabilities and prominent factors for talent to be relevant in the employment market are constant reskilling, learning and unlearning, knowledge of industry changes, gathering competitive insight, networking, and collaboration.


What are some of the top strategies being employed at Accor to support employees and business through this difficult time?


As a leading hospitality player, Accor has always aimed to provide an unparalleled guest experience. Our promise to our guests and customers is to deliver experiences so they can ‘Live Limitless’.


Employees are at the heart of every strategic initiative, project, action and decision. In this world of the unknown, our focus on enhanced employee relations has been much stronger, giving special attention to:


i. Making a conscious choice of building the right company culture:


The energy, support, and trust within our teams while responding to uncertainty became possible because we are intentionally aligned to shared mission and values. Honest communication, empowerment, and discipline have been the most important enablers, steering the right company culture for us.


ii. Holistic talent wellbeing:


Physical Environment – Communicating daily with our employees, ensuring their safety, providing masks, sanitiser, PPE kits, social distancing guidelines, and changing the design of workplaces are important considerations for us in securing the physical wellbeing of employees across hotels.


Through COVID-19 care support, we are housing employees in our hotels where necessary, providing them with nutritious packed meals and supplying groceries, among other things.


Emotional wellbeing – We introduced several initiatives intended to keep our employees motivated, including the launch of 24*7 Employee Wellness Assistance Plan, which enables them and their family members to seek professional help from practising psychological counsellors.


We have also created interactive virtual programs suited to better manage the ongoing crisis, such as ‘Happiness in Times of Uncertainty’ and ‘Mission 2021’, among others.


Financial wellbeing – Accor launched the ‘ALL Heartist Fund’, a €70 million COVID-19 specialpurpose vehicle, which has been assisting employees, pledging to pay COVID-19-related hospital expenses for those who do not have social security or medical insurance, and on a case-by-case basis, to furloughed employees suffering financial distress.


iii.Capability enhancement: We provide free online learning opportunities for employees to acquire new skills.


iv. Finding a broader purpose in life: Our virtual volunteering program provides an opportunity for employees who are passionate about making a difference to society but are currently restricted due to the ongoing pandemic and social distancing norms. Through this project, our talents have been able to reach out to communities from their homes and contribute to the greater good.


While the pandemic has put many work trends on fast-forward, it has altered the direction of others and initiated some future trends. Which HR trends do you believe will persist in the hospitality industry post-COVID-19?


COVID-19 has changed the way HR, as a function, is being practised. In the face of unprecedented challenges, the HR function has become the guardian of the health, safety, and wellbeing of the workforce.


We play a critical role on several fronts, such as ensuring employees’ safety, leading the communication between leadership and talent, developing policies, preserving as many jobs as possible while navigating through uncharted territories, and executing out-of-the-box plans to support the business and managing cash flows.


HR has now joined hands with the business in its truest sense. The trend of supporting business sustainability and the overall health of the workforce will continue going forward. Moreover, linking people strategy to business strategy, reskilling talent, monitoring and driving talent productivity and efficiency, leading a performance-driven culture, having robust recruitment techniques, exploring varied sources of hiring and employment types, and investing in people development will be of paramount importance for this function.

With 6+ years of experience, Ankita has performed diverse roles across the entire spectrum of corporate HR — from hire to retire. She is currently Deputy Editor at Human Capital.


0/3000 Free Article Left >Subscribe