Delivering positive experiences key for success

The management team from Ramada and Days Hotels by Wyndham Singapore shares insights on their organisational approach during the pandemic and beyond.
By: | December 21, 2020

With Singapore edging closer to a phase 3 reopening, many companies operating in the country have a key decision to make. Do they return to the workplace, or do they continue to practice remote work?

Working from home (WFH) is a growing trend and is becoming the default norm in the current pandemic work environment, suggested Tan Lek Wan, Director of Revenue Management of the hotels.

She added, “Prior to the COVID-19 situation, our hotels had already embraced flexible work options such as telecommuting and variable work hours, which provide great support for our associates to better address business, work and family demands.”

As a working mother with two school-going children and elderly parents, this work flexibility is welcomed by Tan as she looks to balance between family and work. “Pre-COVID, due to my job nature, which is highly system-based, I was able to apply telecommute leave and worked remotely with Wi-Fi. This was very convenient whenever I needed to focus on some revenue analytical work,” Tan explained. “There was a period of time when I needed to be home-based on certain days due to family matter, and my GM trusted that work would continue to be done without my physical presence.”

Like many other companies, the hotels’ WFH policy continues to be fine-tuned to be in compliance with the government’s safe management guidelines, while also meeting the hotels’ own needs and requirements.

For instance, the hotels have progressively adapted and redesigned their associates’ job nature, responsibilities and processes to support all the various phases of business resumption as the develop. “With the pandemic, the majority of my team and I are working from home since the circuit breaker and only recently resumed to having limited staff back on-site.”

Happy employees allow Ramada and Day Hotels by Wyndham Singapore to thrive

At a time when employees’ wellbeing is being challenged negatively because of the pandemic, many companies are struggling to create a positive culture to alleviate some of the uncertainty and stress that their employees are currently facing.

For Ramada and Day Hotels by Wyndham Singapore, the safety of their associates is a top priority, even as they continue to look to form meaningful connections, shared Josephine Chua, the hotels’ Director of Human Resources & Quality.

She continued, “We are agile to adapt to the new norm and we introduce new programmes to manage our organisation’s overall mental wellness and associate engagement “health”. Our team-building activities, such as our Virtual Global Wellness Day, Departmental Christmas Decoration and Project 1000 Cranes create the opportunities for associates to have fun and stay engaged, while adhering to safe management guidelines.”

“Through the use of technology, we continue staff dialogue on digital platforms so as to regularly feel the pulse and address any concerns on a real-time basis. Our first e-firechat/townhall with our GM was very well received, and we have more than 50% of our team united virtually through the connected digital world!”

Highlighting the importance of creating a spirit of unity during difficult times, Chua said this helps to recognise the efforts of their associates, promote inclusiveness, provide clarity in directions and communications, while simultaneously keeping associates engaged.

She elaborated, “Not only does this spur creativity, but it also promotes sustainability, increases engagement and is a great way to bring our remote associates together. In the moment of crisis, our Count on Me! organisation culture can be clearly seen in the collective bahaviours that help pull the organisation together and get things done.”

Keeping communication lines open

While face-to-face meetings have been greatly reduced due to WFH during the pandemic, the hotels believe in the importance of ensuring regular and up-to-date communications with their associates.

Macy Cheng, Director of Sales & Marketing of the hotels, explained, “It is crucial to help everyone stay on the same page and continue to embrace core company values as the organisation rides through this challenging wave.”

As a leader of the Room Sales, Catering Sales and Marketing Communications departments, Cheng engages in regular Zoom meetings and casual online chats via Skype or WhatsApp with her team members, in order to connect, and help them overcome challenges associated with remote work.

She added, “RD Connect, our hotels’ customised mobile app, is a simplified and effective programme launched in 2019 to share HR-related information, support live recognition amongst our associates, and enable contactless appreciation.

As the use of digital technology to facilitate effective communications continues to intensify during the pandemic, the hotels believe that timely, transparent and repeated communications are critical to instill confidence and reduce anxiety.

“We send weekly updates through email to keep our associates abreast of the latest news, safety guidelines and the situation. Open communication channels with instant messaging is also one of our most highly utilised tools,” Cheng concluded.

READ: Embracing organisation culture, delivering positive experience

Leadership needs to step up during change

As a new world of work continues to be shaped, leaders are having to change and adapt. For Ramada and Day Hotels by Wyndham Singapore, every day has brought new developments, challenges and changes since the beginning of the pandemic, observed Tony Cousens, the hotels’ General Manager.

He said, “People can expect to explore a world of face masks, physical distancing, mandatory temperature checks and controlled crowds. We have to be constantly on the radar for changes, and implement strategies and exploring new tech tools, yet optimising the revenue in order to adapt to the new normality.”

“Likewise, organisations as a whole may embrace home working and continue to experiment with different ways of working even after the crisis is over. At the same time, we are taking the opportunity to give our associates more empowerment, responsibilities and learning opportunities.”

At Ramada and Day Hotels by Wyndham Singapore, leaders are steered by the hotels’ Count on Me! values, which are, being respectful, responsive and delivering great experiences, as well as creating a unified and motivated workforce. “The management team sets great examples for the organisation and live the values they preach,” Cousens highlighted. “With the clear set of ingrained values and shaped culture, we remain flexible to changes and influences while staying passionate and committed in our daily roles.”

Managing financial health for the organisation

Besides taking care of their people, the hotels have also been focusing on managing the organisation’s financial health during the pandemic.

Describing the pandemic as “unprecedented” and bringing “deep uncertainty”, Alan Tien, the hotels’ Director of Finance, said, “Hotels have to minimise all discretionary operational and capital expenditure, and stagger our maintenance schedule for cost effectiveness.”

“We must ensure that the hotels keep abreast of changes to the situation and their impact. Likewise, we have to focus on end-to-end cost optimisation, identify and prioritise what really matters now, and inject proven best practices and tracking results to ensure savings.”

While the need to contain cost for business viability is clear, the hotels also value their human capital, and collectively, is working as an organisation to manage payroll cost. “To support our banquet business resumption, all our office associates participate in the cross deployment to be Safety Management Officers (SMOs) and serve at events, even on weekends,” explained Tien.

This practice of prolonging the retention of their associates, as opposed to layoffs, not only helps to reduce costs, but also protects and take care of the hotels’ assets and staff through the crisis. “No-pay leave is painful for all of us, but it helps us ride through this pandemic together and remain employed with benefits, including medical coverage,” Tien concluded.