The Ritz Carlton VS. The Taj Hotels Service Culture

The level of dedication and professionalism exemplified by the Taj employees to their guests in the article “Heroes of Taj” really tugged at my heartstrings, to think that people would sacrifice their life to complete their job. It could not have been accomplished without a strong corporate culture.

Being a tourism student before entering NUS, The Ritz Carlton would always be an example when citing exemplary service and its corporate culture is the essence of it all. Ex-CEO Simon Cooper mentions that the key to building The Ritz Carlton’s successful corporate culture is trust that the management and its employees would live the values required by the organisation. With the culture revolving around the motto “we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen”, it requires all employees in all departments to put their ladies and gentlemen at their top priority. The video below shows the exemplary service provided by The Ritz Carlton’s internal ladies and gentlemen, to ladies and gentlemen worldwide.

Similar to Taj Hotels, they too take recruiting the right people very seriously by picking candidates that fit with their strong service culture rather than their technical skills, simply because skills are trainable while values and attitudes are not. There are also strong consistency in its training by introducing “The 12 Service Values,” “The Credo,” “The Three Steps of Service,” “The 6th Diamond” to be practiced by all employees throughout all properties worldwide, which aided employees in guiding their responses to managing uncertainty.

Another aspect of how The Ritz Carlton strengthens its culture is through employee empowerment that would encourage ethnocentrism amongst employees. The organisation entrusted employees to spend up to $2000 on a guest per accident and having that trust resulted in The Ritz Carlton gaining its employee’s loyalty such that their turnover is lower than industry average. And I would like to share an example of excellent service at The Ritz Carlton. A kid left his soft toy in the hotel room after checkout and when they arrived back home, his dad requested the hotel to take a photo of the toy before it was sent over because the boy was feeling depressed. The next day, the dad received a few photos and a note stating that the toy is currently enjoying a holiday at The Ritz Carlton property by the beach, playing golf and enjoying a spa. This is really something unexpected, a pleasant way to delight both the kid and the dad while showing the company’s culture through small and consistent touches. This could only be possible with cultural fit between the employee and the organisation as shared beliefs and priorities would assist them in coming up with fun and creative solutions. This really showed me a lot as to how much they feel engaged and enjoy their job at The Ritz Carlton. They too have a habit to share “wow” stories among employees before work officially start and I feel that it creates positive communication, puts everyone on the same page and provide creative ideas for employees to delight their guests in similar situations.

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Another similarity between The Taj Hotels and The Ritz Carlton was that both were involved in terrorist incidents. In 2009, there was a fatal blast at The Ritz Carlton Jakarta by suicide bombers. What kept me thinking was why were there different responses between the two incidents. While the Taj garnered support, The Ritz Carlton’s occupancy rates dropped after its opening, there were no local support like in the Taj case, American businessmen were interviewed stating that they would not be back and companies had The Ritz Carlton blacklisted for future corporate trips.

Perhaps it was due to the type of terrorist attack. The explosion at The Ritz Carlton was immediate; there was no chance for the employees to evacuate their guests or opportunity to showcase them putting their guest first. While, the gunmen at Taj held on for hours, enabling the employees to showcase their selfless acts, made painful decisions and put their guest above all, which was inline with their culture. Or perhaps to the local Indonesian community, The Ritz Carlton was merely an overseas investment property, a hotel for the rich, without any significant meaning to the people, while the Taj was symbolic to the Indians that they were eager to provide their full support. Another possible reason was that there were previous bombings at The Ritz Carlton Jakarta and there is a probability that it could be a future terrorist target as well, thus reducing the safety perception of the hotel. However, I do like to note that if it was a lesser-known overseas brand, it could have gone out of business, rather than having the ability to hold out and rebuild, just like The Ritz Carlton did.

 

http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/30/simon-cooper-ritz-leadership-ceonetwork-hotels.html

http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1914269,00.html

http://www.hcamag.com/profiles/living-values-the-ritzcarlton-way-113078.aspx

 

Matured Workers in Singapore

After the Alexandra Hospital case discussion, I felt that most companies would have some capacity to hire matured workers, with the defining factors being the companies’ attitude and perception towards the matured workers. However, after experiencing two Human Resource Internships, I feel that there are more issues to consider.

1. More re-employment for jobs which younger generations shuns

As I glance through the companies being featured for embracing the matured workforce (Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment, 2010), I realised that half are in the government sector whereby they are setting an example for the public sector to follow suit. While the other half made up of private companies in the transport, fast food and hotel industry, which requires low skilled labour, especially so with the tightening on foreign labour by the government in 2010 (Yahya, 2013). Well-educated Singaporeans are less willing to drive buses, clean tables and make the beds.

I personally experienced it, as I am a diploma graduate in Hospitality and Tourism Management; most of my classmates, like me, who are trained to work in hotels and restaurants, ended up furthering their studies in another area. With the younger generations being unwilling to do the job, these companies are forced to turn to foreign labour and matured workers. And that, I have a friend whose mother was not educated, at the age of 56 with back issues, she was delighted to be given the chance to do housekeeping at The Amara Hotel and it was a win-win situation for both parties. She has been re-employed several times by the hotel due to her hardworking attitude. However, if all of my classmates, who are trained in this field, applied for the job, would she be even given the opportunity?

2. Unionised companies face more pressure in re-employment

During my internship at PSA Marine, I managed to sit in for several union meetings and through that, I felt that unions does have great influence on the management, provided that the management sees the importance of how maintaining positive industrial relations affects job satisfaction and employee’s commitment. PSA Marine offers re-employment to matured employees, with a pre-requisite of the doctor’s approval during annual medical check-ups. If they were to fail, the union will come in to negotiate for a job redesign that requires less physical work and to maintain the harmonious relations, unionised companies have to handle every single case with care and all these negotiation requires time and effort.

However, it led me thinking as to how many jobs can the HR redesign? With the increase in matured workers, the demand for such jobs will far exceed the supply and there will be a point whereby companies will not be able to provided these matured workers suitable jobs. It is extremely critical when these matured workers possess either little skills or physical skills, which cannot be translated to the office environment. Therefore, before it reaches that juncture, companies could offer pre-retirement counselling or planning every five years once their employees reach 50 and motivate them to pick up new skills.

 3. Blue-collar vs. White-collar matured workers

There are matured workers in both white and blue-collar jobs. Nonetheless, I feel that white-collar workers are more fortunate because they are working in an environment that age does not necessarily hinder them, but instead, the profound knowledge they have gathered over the years gives them an advantage in being able to coach the younger generations. I know of many senior managers at PSA Marine and senior partners at Deloitte who are neither ready to retire, nor is the company willing to let them go.

However, it is somewhat opposite for the blue-collar workers, as most of their jobs require manual labour; if there are many younger and stronger individuals interested in their jobs, these matured workers, whose age affects their physical capabilities, could be replaceable. Therefore, they should either be equipped with different skillsets or be an expert in their current skill that they are needed by the company to provide training to new employees. However, sometimes it boils down to an individual’s personality and attitude to keep his job. I saw a video about a 102-year-old man still working at Wal-Mart because he wants to stay active and customers respect him for that.

4. Nudges for hiring matured workers & re-employment

With the aging population, there are plenty of societal pressures. The government and unions provides funding and award recognition to encourage re-employment. Media commercials and advertisements that features matured workers knowing their employment rights, the benefits of hiring them, as well as posters featuring their contributions (Ministry of Manpower, 2015). Our families and relatives who are matured and unemployed could be an unintentional nudge for us to give matured individuals a chance at work.

Videos:

1.  Wal-Mart’s 102-year-old employee:

2. Work-right video featuring matured workers knowing their rights:

3. Benefits of hiring older workers:

Media Poster:

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Works Cited:

  1. Ministry of Manpower. (2015, January 14). WorkRight. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from Ministry of Manpower: http://www.mom.gov.sg/employment-practices/employment-rights-conditions/workright/Pages/default.aspx
  1. Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment. (2010). Leading Practices for Managing Mature Employees. Retrieved February 10, 2015, from Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment:http://www.tafep.sg/sites/default/files/Publication%20-%20Leading%20Practices%20for%20Managing%20Mature%20Employees_0.pdf
  1. Yahya, Y. (2013, February 28). Foreign Labour Curbs Raise Concerns. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from STJOBS: http://www.stjobs.sg/career-resources/hr-updates/foreign-labour-curbs-raise-concerns/a/107807