Personnel Today Awards 2010: Employer brand crucial to engaging global workforce at IHG

In an international organisation with a large workforce it is challenging to get everyone behind the same company goals. Intercontinental Hotel Group’s (IHG) Tracy Robbins, Personnel Today’s 2010 HR director of the year, not only achieved this, she also harnessed employee commitment to drive the business forward.

After making a number of hotel acquisitions, IHG needed its more than 110,000 employees, operating across seven brands in more than 100 countries, to see themselves as one global team.

To add to the challenge, the organisation needed to engage the owners of thousands of IHG-branded hotels and their employees – who do not work directly for the company – in the corporate strategy.

Robbins comments: “The key is engaging our people so that they feel valued and are recognised for the huge contributions they make. That’s how you get everyone to pull together in the same direction, by making them feel they belong to something special.”

Additionally, the HR team had to battle with the hospitality industry’s low retention rates and recruit 215,000 high quality candidates to meet the company’s growth plans.

This programme also won IHG the Personnel Today 2010 award for innovation in recruitment.

Robbins says: “Our focus is not just on bringing in new people, but on engaging and motivating existing staff and encouraging career progression within the company.”

This commitment to staff has helped the company keep morale high through difficult times. Trust in the organisation has grown by 3% despite IHG making large savings through measures including wage freezes and corporate restructuring.

“Throughout the restructure we worked hard to make sure all decisions were in line with our core values, in a very thoughtful and caring way that treated people with respect,” explains Robbins.

“Because of this and the fact that we had created a culture of trust where everyone works together, our people had a better understanding of why we had to make some of the tough choices that affected them and their colleagues.”

And the advantage of creating a joined-up culture in the organisation wasn’t confined to HR. Guest satisfaction and revenue growth increased in line with employee engagement.

Judges for the 2010 Personnel Today HR director of the year award commended Robbins for the commercial approach taken by her HR function. Despite managing a huge number of employees globally, she created a joined-up culture that judges said “should be an inspiration to us all”.

Indeed, Robbins has helped HR to be seen as a valued partner at IHG, helping to deliver business strategy and developing and implementing company goals. Having a close involvement with both operational leaders and front line staff means Robbins has been able make the “people agenda” high on the list of organisational priorities.

“I was so proud to accept the award on behalf of the entire global HR team,” Robbins said. “It speaks of all their hard work and dedication over the last four years as we’ve built a culture that all our people feel proud of.”

More content on the Personnel Today Awards 2010

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