By Jane Sunley, Co-founder, Hendrick & Hyde
Whilst people tech providers, Korero, partner with Best Workplaces in Travel, our down to earth consulting business, Hendrick & Hyde, is commissioned to comment on the outcomes and provide some ‘how to’ for those travel companies who enter and are driven towards year-on-year improvement. During post survey conversations, what many organisations within travel want to know is ‘what good looks like’. I explain that borrowing ideas and initiatives from other companies is rarely effective in the longer term because they are unlikely to be authentic to the culture of their companies. And they don’t always fit in with ‘the way we do things around here’. Isolated ideas and initiatives are unlikely to bring the results, and therefore the returns on investment, that they might elsewhere. What travel organisations need is a really great, authentic people plan.
What Hendrick & Hyde advise is for travel businesses to use their Best Workplaces in Travel survey outcomes to identify priority areas for improvement and then conduct a deeper dive into the reality by consulting with their people. And then to use this information to build a plan that is clear, prioritised, deliverable and practical.
Key areas to consider:
Hendrick & Hyde’s 10-point plan for becoming an even better Best Workplace in Travel
What your business stands for, what’s important to you collectively and ‘how we do things around here’. The only way to get this right is to consult your people. The Best Workplaces in Travel survey is a great start, though every travel organisation is different so you’ll need a deeper dive into what would make the most powerful impacts on your culture. Think independent surveys, focus groups and interviews. Work out what’s different and special about working for your travel business, define it, communicate internally, live it, and then build out your People Promise and deliver on it. Easier said than done, though that’s where we come in…
This has emerged as a major issue for the Best Workplaces in Travel survey respondents, so avoid issuing directives and talk through the pros, cons and logistics with people instead. Make your ‘non-negotiables’ clear though also fair, justified and appropriate to the culture you have worked so hard to create.
Ensure leaders at all levels are ready, willing and able to lead in a contemporary way and one that may well be quite different from what they experienced ‘on the way up’. Once your values and behaviours are clear, leaders at all levels must be able to role model your defined values and behaviours and use them to support, strengthen and develop your unique culture.
Review and consider ways of working that will make a difference to your people and to the reputation of your business and the industry at large. Be prepared to invest and change the way things are done. For example, think about how decisions that affect the workforce are made – via collaboration and transparency with the context and rational explained and feedback heard, or always from the top, issued as directives, informed by those who often know best because they’re at the sharp end.
5. Pay and conditions:
Regularly review and address these though, if you’re getting everything else right, it becomes less about the money and more about working in a positive environment with purpose where the work is enjoyable, leaders are supportive, people can work towards their potential, the team are great, and people feel proud of the valuable and recognised contribution they make. If you’re unable to move on pay/benefits, explain the rationale and promote the other positive aspects of your ‘people promise’.
We live in a digital world, so embrace the possibilities. For example, feedback, career and development conversations need to be ‘always on’ and triggered by the employee. Be open to doing things differently. Review your digital people strategy to provide user-friendly, integrated, consumer-grade tools that people expect and will want to use.
Put simple yet powerful people metrics in place, such as the employee net promoter score which is identified and can be benchmarked via Best Workplaces in Travel. This is a fast and easy way to track whether you’re getting it right and picking up any anomalies quickly so they can be dealt with before they erode your culture.
Even if you’re unable to move on salaries, this becomes less of a looming issue if you get the other stuff right. For example, building a culture of kindness and respect where people receive a genuine thank you for a job well done, being fair, ensuring people can thrive and progress by having regular check ins with them.
It’s a major challenge in almost every business because of the fast and furious pace of today’s world together with the sheer volume of information that bombards everyone every day. This is heightened within multi-site travel operations and/or remote working. Consider implementing a digital ‘one place’ for everything where people can find out what they need to know when they need it.
Ensure you have mechanisms in place for career and development conversations on an ongoing basis so that people can trigger these when they need to, rather than at an (outdated) annual appraisal or even when they’re about to leave.
All of the above will need to be examined and prioritised into a plan, remembering this is a marathon not a sprint. However, those travel companies who do follow our ’10 commandments’ will reap the rewards of attracting, engaging, developing and retaining the talented people they need to prosper and grow, with enviable positioning within the travel labour market and beyond. And who knows, one day they might even top the Best Workplaces in Travel listings…
How Hendrick & Hyde can help:
Conduct a deeper dive via focus groups and one to one interviews.
Make sense of diagnostic outcomes and other information.
Facilitate great planning sessions with senior leaders.
Provide some of the ‘how to’, recommending tools and techniques.
Work with senior leaders individually or in a group to develop team dynamics and capabilities.
Companies that enter Best Workplaces in Travel are eligible for a discounted initial one hour virtual consultation, the cost of which is deducted from any subsequent work completed.