Skift Take

Unfortunately missing from these lists, however, are smaller firms that may, arguably, treat their employees just as well as these bigger ones do. Still, a lot of companies, regardless of industry, could learn from the ways in which they treat and value their workforces.

The fact that the global hospitality industry is huge cannot be understated.

In the U.S. alone, the leisure and hospitality sector, as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor, employs nearly 15.5 million people. Globally, the hospitality industry produced revenues of $457 billion in 2011 and this year, it is estimated to generate $550 billion.

And who’s powering all of that revenue? Millions of people around the world.

The battle to attract top talent and retain them over the years has also been a challenge, in particular for hospitality companies. This is especially true at a time when the industry must confront rising minimum wages in cities across the U.S., or potential labor-related challenges posed by the Brexit vote, as it pertains to foreign labor.

Dream Hotel Group CEO Jay Stein, for example, said, one of his biggest concerns involves finding the right people to work with him at his company.

“The labor issue is always something that’s affected our industry and it’s getting bigger and bigger,” Stein said. “One on just the cost of labor. It just continues to escalate. The quality of labor gets tougher and tougher as we have kids getting out of great hotel schools and they don’t have a desire to work in the entry-level and mid-level positions at hotels. They want to start out as vice presidents of operations the day they get out of school. So that’s a bit challenging.”

Hospitality schools are also taking note of this battle for attracting and retaining talent. Some have even conducted research on whether or not mentoring can help reduce the stress levels among hotel employees.

Bottom line? A career in hospitality can be rewarding, but like any job, it can be stressful, too. The following hospitality companies were noted for improving the work/life balance for their employees, and giving them the resources they need to be successful.

The Fortune 100

Since 1998, Fortune magazine has compiled a list of the “100 Best Companies to Work For,” and for every year the list has been compiled, Toronto-based Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and Bethesda, Maryland-based Marriott International have made it on the list. In 2016, Four Seasons ranked 70th, dropping from 47th place in 2015. In 2016, Marriott ranked 83rd, dropping from 53rd last year.

To be considered for the list, a company has to apply. As part of the process for determining the list, Fortune sends a Trust Index Employee Survey to a random sample of employees from each company, asking them about their attitudes toward management’s credibility, overall job satisfaction, and camaraderie. This determines two-thirds of a company’s survey score. The other third involves a culture audit.

In 2016, Four Seasons and Marriott were also joined by Fortune 100 regulars that include Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants (20th), and Hyatt Hotels & Resorts (47th), as well as a hospitality newcomer, Hilton Worldwide (56th).

Kimpton, which was purchased by InterContinental Hotels Group in December 2014, dropped slightly in its rankings from 2015 when it was ranked 11th, perhaps owing to some transitional changes taking place at the company following its acquisition. Still, it was the top-ranked hospitality company on the list overall, and Fortune also noted that for the past 11 consecutive years, the company received a 100-percent score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.

Hyatt rose up a bit this year, from 78th place in 2015. Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian has been a vocal proponent of “bringing humanity back to hospitality.” In the past year, the company spent $50,000 to upgrade its employee cafeterias to feel more like restaurants. Its hotel managers also host “Night Owl Breakfasts” during which managers break bread with night-shift employees. The company also chooses to promote from within 47 percent of the time.

In a Skift interview from 2014, Hoplamazian said, “The key issue from our perspective is figuring out how to take full advantage of what we consider our most valuable asset, which is our people on the ground in each market. If you figure out a way to allow them to increasingly bring themselves to what they do and to bring their experiences and the learnings from our guests into what we do then there are huge opportunities to take advantage of to really serve our guests differently as time goes on.”

Hilton Worldwide CEO Chris Nassetta was credited by the magazine for instituting a full “cultural turnaround” at the company since taking the helm in 2007, and focusing on internal promotions. The company was also noted for empowering female employees: of its 58,880 U.S. employees, women make up 51 percent, as well as 52 percent of all non-executive managers.

Marriott dropped slightly in its rankings in 2016. For Marriott, this year is a pivotal year in terms of focusing on its employees, especially as the company prepares to acquire Starwood to become the world’s largest hotel company, with a combined global workforce of more than 300,000 employees.

David Rodriguez, Marriott’s executive vice president and global chief human resources officer, said, “This is where a lot of M&A transactions go wrong, because I don’t think they think about the right way. Marriott culture actually is going to be one of the strongest reasons why this merger is going to be a home run. Marriott culture is actually very simple. It’s simply we take care of each other. When I’ve talked to people at Starwood and I describe what Marriott culture is about, they get excited. By the way, they say, ‘That’s really what our values are, too.’”

He added, “I think when M&A deals fail culturally, it’s because I don’t think companies take the time to listen to both sides and figure out what makes sense. Sometimes it’s not going to be how Marriott does things that’s going to be the best way. It’s going to be something that Starwood is doing.”

To that end, Rodriguez and his team have already tried to think of how to best merge both the Marriott and Starwood cultures and HR practices together.

“The other thing I would say is this,” he said. “Obviously we acquired Starwood, so it’s important that we show respect and acknowledge that they’re a great company that’s done a lot of great things. I’ll tell you, in the HR space, one of the decisions we made, which we’re going to take one of their innovations [the Starwood Associate Relief Fund] and bring them into the company.”

List Rank Company Name No. U.S. Employees Job Growth
20 Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants 7,754 -3%
47 Hyatt Hotels & Resorts 41,340 -4%
56 Hilton Worldwide 58,880 N/A
70 Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts 13,648 5%
83 Marriott International 102,301 N/A

Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work

Glassdoor, the online platform that’s akin to a Yelp for workplaces, unveiled its list of the “Best Places to Work” as determined by employee reviews and this year, Airbnb took the top honors.

While it’s debatable to some whether Airbnb is more tech platform or hospitality company, it’s clear from the company’s employee reviews that it has a loyal fan base among its employees, with a score of 4.6 out of five stars. One of the employees’ favorite perks for working at Airbnb is the quarterly travel voucher, allowing them to travel and meet its hosts around the world.

And in comparison to all the other hospitality companies listed on the Fortune 100, it’s valued much more than any of them. The company’s most recent valuation, pegged at $30 billion, is much more than the valuations for Hilton ($25 billion) and Marriott ($21 billion).

While there’s been much discussion about whether or not Airbnb will go public this year with an initial public offering (IPO), those rumors were put to rest last week when it was announced that the company’s employees would be selling approximately $200 million in stock to investors. This strategy will allow the company to continue to grow, raise cash, retain its top talent, and delay an IPO.

Oh, and definitely earn high scores on Glassdoor as early employees can cash in on options to investors.

Have a confidential tip for Skift? Get in touch

Tags: airbnb, four seasons, hilton, hyatt, kimpton hotels, marriott

Photo credit: Hyatt Hotels was named one of the 100 best companies to work for by Fortune magazine. Hyatt Hotels & Resorts

Up Next

Loading next stories