Manpower is the most critical issue facing the travel, aviation and hospitality industry. While layoffs are a major byproduct of the pandemic, the flip side entails a major HR overhaul of existing manpower with reskilling and multi-tasking as essential to responsibilities.
Today’s Traveller put these important issues before Agnihotri, currently heading Human Resources for the Radisson Hotel Group, South Asia, and managing talent capital for 94 operating hotels, impacting 18,000 employees.
Agnihotri is the right man in the right place as he has the distinction of achieving business growth in rapid change environments, as well as designing and implementing innovative systems, processes, standards and policies for HR operations, retention and diversity, employees’ effectiveness and reduction of HR costs.
In a candid interview, Agnihotri speaks on critical issues of our times and how these will shape future trends in Training and HR policies in the Hospitality industry.
TT : In the post COVID scenario, what factors will determine a company’s staffing goals and strategies to support profitable business operations?
Yogendra Agnihotri: Human Resources as a function needs to be agile and resilient during such unprecedented times to support business continuity. As we move forward, organizations will have to redefine their staffing strategies with a value driven mindset. At Radisson Hotel Group, we are strongly leveraging our India Unification Strategy, that builds on the strength of our network and delivers efficiency across five focus areas.
Manpower is one of these key areas, apart from procurement, food & beverage (F&B), operations and commercial. Under the manpower strategy, the following key initiatives have been undertaken:
- Cluster General Manager Program to optimize the potential of our human resources along with managing their career aspirations and providing them enriched job content
- General Manager Lead Referral Program to leverage and reward relationships built in-house to grow the brand through a result-oriented incentive program
- Manning Blueprint to develop a future-ready organization, in order to deliver greater efficiencies led by a quality-driven mindset
We are looking into digitally enabled processes supported by task management and engineering software and internal communication platforms. Much before the crisis, we had developed internal processes to enable employee feedback to flow freely to the management and these listening exercises have become even more critical in the current situation.
TT: Hotels are being asked to go back to the drawing board and bring in austerity measures, inventiveness and adaptation to survive. As manpower is a major factor in this equation, what will be the new rules of engagement?
Yogendra Agnihotri: Our teams have been working tirelessly to overcome the challenges posed by the global pandemic, and our primary focus is the health and wellbeing of all our guests and colleagues.
Our endeavor is to strengthen the bond with our colleagues further through a three-fold approach – Communicate, Connect and Care. We are supporting our colleagues and helping them stay inspired through various engagement initiatives such as –
- Periodic Newsletters around relatable topics ranging from remote working management, to inspirational pieces, personal development, and lifestyle tips
- Weekly Learning Vitamins to enhance leadership and functional capabilities
- Radisson Talks Live Sessions, wherein senior leaders connect with employees globally and share success stories and provide updates
- Virtual Coffee sessions wherein employees catch up with Human Resource team and share how they are coping with the complexities of the new environment
- Going forward, Radisson Academy Online will take center stage for employees and most of our new programs would be administered through this new initiative to ensure convenient online access to all.
TT: Do you see drastic change in staffing plans, compensation, benefits on the cards?
Yogendra Agnihotri: The long-term fundamentals of our business in India remain strong and we are positive that people engagement and training efforts will enable our business to tide over these temporary challenges. With a robust network of 94 operating hotels, we are in a unique position to leverage the strength of our scale to deploy talent in an optimal manner.
TT: In what way will training and development policies change?
Yogendra Agnihotri: Hospitality sector will require rigorous reskilling, upskilling and new trainings for employees. Apart from hygiene, various other aspects of customer service and back end operations will witness radical shifts due to accelerated use of emerging technologies across all guest touchpoints such as contactless check-in and check-out, touchless room service, digital menus and sensor and gesture based controls.
This will result in redefined roles and responsibilities of employees handling these key areas. To ensure our employees seamlessly transition to their new roles and exceed guest expectations, we have devised ‘Business Recovery & Re-Opening Training’ modules across all our hotels.
The training aims to empower our employees to make the right decisions and be fully prepared for complex scenarios. We have registered a positive response from our staff regarding these modules whereby they feel better equipped to deal with new guest requirements. We are committed to help our teams feel inspired and confident to deliver a differentiated guest experience.
TT: How do you see the future of jobs in the hospitality industry?
Yogendra Agnihotri: With a new normal in place in the post-pandemic era, there has been a significant shift in the hospitality business operations. Businesses will now certainly look for candidates that are proficient at multi-skilling and work well under pressure.
Candidates who possess distinctive qualities of problem solving, crisis leadership and critical thinking will certainly get preference. As our dependence on technology for interaction with guests has amplified, digital skills in sales, reservations, revenue, IT, and marketing will be in high demand.