According Atkinson (2000, p.6), human resource management is “a distinctive approach to employment management which seeks to achieve competitive advantage through the strategic deployment of a highly committed and capable workforce, using an integrated array of cultural, structural and personal technique”
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The hospitality industry is one of the most challenging industries in terms of human resource and employee relations all over the world. This is attributed to the numerous legislations and regulations that govern their operations in different countries and the fact that it is an industry where customer reigns supreme (Chang 1999, p.1257). To remain competitive, it is always necessary for the players in the industry (hoteliers) to not just meet the expectations of the clients, but attempt to surpass them. Hilton International Hotel, as part of the Hilton Group plc noticed this human resource phenomenon where the training and development of staff becomes the first step in quality service delivery to much the company brand (Brown 2004, p.24). As a well known brand, Hilton developed a strategy and invested on their training and development program for its staff members in order to equip them with the right skills to ensure the guests get good experience in terms of quality service. The inherent issues at Hilton as concerns human resource is critical for any hospitality business, since they are tasked with developing human resource strategy as one of the main dimension for quality service that match its cadre as an international hotel. The paper explores the human resource strategy at Hilton International that matches its quality service element. This is due to the high expectation from the customers in terms of high standards required by the customers such as: (a) that the staff will deliver a service, (b) that the staff will deliver the service appropriately and timely, and (c) that the staff will deliver the service with a smile (Brown 2004, p. 25).
As an intangible resource in any company, human resource management strategies often elude many executives of major companies, especially the continuously complex hospitality industry (Armstrong 1988, p.8). The paper explores the achievement of quality service strategy (equilibrium) at Hilton through their training program for their staff, thus provide a base for other hoteliers to replicate or redesign to conform to their desired goals for success in the industry.
According to the Hilton International Human Resource Vice President (Asia), Rosie Holis, quality service “is the customer packages…we (Hilton) are not in the race if we are not delivering quality service”, thus the dependence of quality service on the level of staff professionalism, especially those in direct contact with customers (Brown 2004, p.26). In order to achieve their objective, Hilton commissioned Kenexa to develop a program, HR Talent @ Hilton. Kenexa developed the program through the use of talent focus groups, job analysis and questionnaires to analyze the human resource talents (p.28). This is after noting that developing their human resource directed at quality service equilibrium had a direct positive impact on the customer satisfaction.
Kenexa subsequently designed a web- based solution that would measure Human Resource candidates against the trait cultures linked to four human resource talent types inclined towards David Ulrich model of four roles of human resource, i.e. Technical Expert, Team Member Champion, Change Agent and Strategic Partner (Brown 2004, p.29). The underlined candidates answer detailed questions that are cored on every trait and a situational judgment component. Candidates are then given a comparison of their scores against the Hilton human resource exemplar population in their feedback report (p.30).
The talent @ Hilton is an important part of the Hilton’s development program, Top Gear Program where between 15 and 20 human resource professionals attend the four designed modules to enhance their competencies on the four concepts of talent curve (Atkinson 2000, p.9). Through this the organization has managed to not only attract and retain talents but also to develop their skills.
In order to investigate the fundamental aspects of training at Hilton, I developed a strategic analysis of the training program adopted by Hilton International and how it has impacted on their operations in this critical hospitality industry. To understand the important connection between the organizational culture and its aim of quality service to its customers, I have analyzed the company’s goal of expansion and the global diversity challenge in terms of language, culture, religion in connection to their training program. Their continuous success in terms of expansion and retaining of their employees were used to gauge the importance of the program for their staff.
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In a broader perspective, Hilton quality service equilibrium training strategy was to influence staff behavior especially with guests and with each other, association that would be either direct or indirect, thus instilling the right type of organizational culture that would create appropriate employee/ employee and employee/ guest relationship (Armstrong 1988, p.68).
In essence, there was a challenge in developing the equilibrium service culture to impact on all the Hilton Global networks in four regions. Considering the decentralized organizational structure, the management teams in each region were to be oriented to the program so that the training could be carried out at the regional level. This is due to the fact that every region had its cultural diversity issues which would definitely challenge the uniform marketing of the Hilton brand since quality in Tokyo does not necessarily mean quality in London” (Del Vecchio 1999, p.1221). For example, Asia with its diverse range of cultural philosophy, religion, and language, America with its diverse and different expectations form North and South, where the latter has a more relaxed and less affluent population, while the former is with higher and structurally pressurized lifestyles. In this perspective, Hilton adopted “soft” human resource approach emphasizes the value of organizational culture, individual commitment and mutuality of objectives and beliefs of both organizations employee (Chang 1999, p.1258), that can be entrenched through training.
Hilton as one of the leading international hospitality industry has managed to streamline training programs for its staff and the newly recruited staff in order to manage their customers professionally for customer satisfaction. They have shown how training is critical in the integration of organizational culture through their continual expansion into new global markets that they had not ventured before. Other organizations operating in similar industry may decide to adopt such strategies, but should make sure it is tailored to their individual needs.
List of References
- Armstrong M 1988, A Handbook of Personnel Management Practice, London, Kogan Page.
- Atkinson P 2000, “The strategic Imperative: Creating a customer focused Organization”, Change Management.
- Baum T 1997, “Policy dimensions of human resource management in the tourism and hospitality industries”, International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 9/5/6,221-9.
- Brown S 2004, “Hilton hits the heights of hotel service with HR initiative: Equilibrium scheme creates the right balance for guests, Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 12, Issue 6, pp. 24-26
- Chang E 1999, “Career commitment as a complex moderator of organizational commitment and turnover intention”, Human Realtions, 52, 1257-78 Management for Hospitality Services . London, International Thompson Business Press
- Del Vecchio G A 1999, “Determinants of job satisfaction and organizational commitment after an acquisition”, Proquets Digital Dissertations, Publication number AAT-9926486, 1221.