HRM in Maldives resorts is in need of a paradigm shift in management philosophy

Human Resource Management (HRM) is one of the key support functions for any hospitality operation. As someone who has been in HR for a long time, I’d like to share some of my thoughts that which, in my opinion, will make the HRM process more efficient and effective in today’s competitive environment. I believe that they might be helpful in addressing some of the complex challenges we have in the industry today

Accept reality – high turnover is here to stay
Vacancy ads come out every day. However, there isn’t enough labor to fill even the immediate vacancies in the industry. We are currently looking at more than 6000 employees for resorts due to open in the next 6 to 12 months. This is already becoming a daunting task for HR teams since the pool is not enough for everyone. Quit wasting time to change reality when perception is the real issue. Tourism is still not considered as a viable career in small island communities and nothing has been done over the past 46 years to change this perspective.

A staff at Four Seasons taking care of a little girl
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Discard old paradigms
One of the key guiding mantras for HR for a long time had been retaining people for a longer time. I have seen resorts where retention became an issue when people decide to stay for too long because they weren’t obtaining their objective and were falling back. My argument and my advice to employees is that, if someone is stuck in the same position for more than 2 years and their future looks bleak, move on and look for something else.

All employees are not created equal
Differentiating yourself from the competition is sometimes easier said than done. Remember that there are strengths you can leverage off if you are a small independent brand. You must also remember that all employees are not created equal. Instead of looking for people with individual brilliance, consider people for the contribution they can make to the existing team.

Train and retrain teams to overcome biases and assumptions
Find algorithms that will work for your organization to eliminate ‘noise’ in the system that clouds a manager’s judgment. More often than not, essential processes like recruitment get implicitly sabotaged by assumptions and biases. HR must take the lead in training their own teams and other HoDs to make sure that they are aware of any such potential pitfalls. As much as possible, base all decisions, especially people related decisions on data and facts rather than assumptions.

Pay more attention to engagement
I have always used varying combinations of training, development and recreational activities for the team to achieve the motivation that stimulates engagement. However, everything depends on the specific conditions of the resort, team size and available facilities. I have used up to 40 different training titles and of all these, found IT for the everyday user generated the most excitement. Look for activities that large groups of people can interact together and concentrate on those without neglecting the minorities. I am starting a new strategy where I group everyone by their hobbies and facilitate clubs for music, art, environmental stewardship and so on.

A Maldivian artist showing off her talent at Kula, an art initiative hosted by Kandima Maldives

Efficiency is not always the same as effectiveness
Take a long hard look at your processes and procedures. Do these procedures add any value to your teams of operations? If not, just scrap them, or review them if you need to keep them. I am sure a lot of HR managers find processes like yearly performance appraisals just create more paperwork and headache than anything else.

Tap into the free power source – social media
If we can get all our 100 or 200 team members to work as ambassadors for us on social media that is a lot of social power! They will keep their social group engaged in what is happening at the resort. Hence, encourage team members to share fun team activities on social media for maximum exposure. Publicity is always good and just like word of mouth is the best form of advertising to attract new customers, it is a better medium to attract new employees.

Encourage your staff to engage their social group with the activities that happen in your resort

If you want to get that competitive edge over your neighbors, find five to ten processes that allow you to climb over that edge. I have in one of my previous blog posts, highlighted the importance of striking a balance between being people-centric or process-centric in your HRM. It is therefore important for each management to determine which approach will add the most value to their HRM function. Instead of looking for the perfect, best groomed, most meritorious candidate, look beyond their first impression, dig deeper and choose the most enthusiastic candidate who will be the missing piece on your team jigsaw.

Mr. Hassan Saeed, Resort Manager at Dhigali Maldives

This blog was written by Mr. Hassan Saeed. Mr. Hassan Saeed is a career hotelier with over 25 years of experience in Maldives tourism and resort operation. He is passionate about behavioral economics and how concepts like ‘Nudge’ can be applied in service settings. Hassan identifies himself as a lifelong learner. He currently holds the position of Resort Manager at Dhigali Maldives.

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