Why employee engagement is all about people

Andrew Newmark, CHRO of Marriott International in the APEC region, redefines employee engagement in evolving workforce dynamics.
By: | August 21, 2023

The intricate dynamics between employee expectations and employer perceptions have become a focal point in the modern workforce. Addressing this disparity and re-engaging disenchanted employees are challenges that Andrew Newmark, CHRO of Marriot International in the APEC (Asia-Pacific excluding Greater China) region, has been actively addressing.

Understanding the disconnection between what employees want and what employers believe they want is multifaceted, rooted in the diverse nature of today’s workforce. With different generations and backgrounds, employees bring unique preferences and expectations to the table.

Newmark told HRM Asia, “It is important for all employers to recognise this diversity and adapt to different needs rather than opting for a one-size-fits-all approach. This requires communication, transparency, and tailored engagement strategies.”

Marriott International, a global player in the hospitality industry, has been at the forefront of addressing this challenge. With a workforce exceeding 78,000 employees and spanning 24 brands and 22 countries in Asia-Pacific, the organisation has gained insights into employee needs through engagement surveys, performance evaluations, and interactive communication platforms.

One trend Newmark identified is the escalating demand for flexible work arrangements and avenues for professional growth, especially post-pandemic. Responding to this, Marriott International introduced iJobs (Integrated Jobs), a programme allowing employees to rotate through various roles within the hotels. This not only encourages professional development but also enhances scheduling flexibility, as he added, “The programme has been received positively by employees, resulting in higher engagement and productivity for the organisation. We look forward to expanding this effort.”

And leadership’s pivotal role in aligning organisational objectives with employee engagement cannot be overstated. Effective leaders are essential in translating the organisation’s vision throughout the organisational hierarchy, fostering collaboration, motivation, and transparent communication.

Newmark concluded, “We prioritise hiring leaders who understand and live our culture. This means we focus on filling leadership roles from within to ensure the Marriott culture continues to be strengthened by existing talent. When considering external talent, culture and people leadership attributes are prioritised in the selection decision.”

“Having the right leaders in place helps us grow great leaders, foster a culture of empowerment, invest in our employees’ wellbeing, and provide great opportunities for personal growth and professional development.”

Newmark’s insights will be showcased at HR Tech Fest Connect 2023, a one-day all-virtual event taking place on September 27, and will revolve around the theme The Connected Workplace: Empowering HR Leaders to Build an Engaged & Resilient Workforce. He will offer attendees two insights to keep an eye out for under his presentation titled Building a Thriving Culture: Why Employee Engagement Is All About People. The first centres on Marriott International’s resilience in the face of pandemic challenges, as he delves into how the organisation managed to not only weather the storm but also fortify its TakeCare initiative, emerging strong than before.

The second insight revolves around mental and physical health initiatives, as well as training and career development opportunities. Newmark will discuss how Marriott International adapted to the evolving needs of its employees, attracting, engaging, and nurturing the best talent in the process.