Leisure group benefits from secondment to US

Botanic Inns has adopted a range of new people management policies after its
HR manager spent six months working with US-based firm Marriott.

Cathy Donnelly, HR manager at Belfast-based Botanic, was seconded to the
hotel giant through the DTI’s International Technology Service, which also
part-funded her trip.

Donnelly told Personnel Today that Botanic, which employs 700 staff at its
chain of bars, hotels and restaurants, has introduced a wide range of policies
as a result of her time with Marriott. These include the development of close
links with local colleges to encourage young people to consider a career with
Botanic, and improved career development for its chefs to ensure they achieve
formal qualifications.

Botanic is also surveying new staff at induction stage to improve the
recruitment process.

"This was a first-class opportunity for me to enhance my skills and
knowledge of best practice in HR and training at a time when our business is
expanding," said Donnelly.

Staff development training has also been changed to recognise that not all
employees want to climb the management ladder. "Some people are happy to
be a bartender for the rest of their career and they are now identified and
planned for," Donnelly explained.

Botanic has also introduced staff focus groups to generate employee ideas on
how the business can be improved.

Benchmarking against a world-leader such as Marriott has allowed the HR
department to take a more active role in the business, Donnelly said.

She stressed, however, that the exercise is not a one-way process because
the 450-strong HR department at Marriott is also interested in learning about
the Botanic HR team’s approach to people management.

Donnelly returns to the US in May to continue to share best practice.

By Quentin Reade

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