HR Grapevine
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Andi Hirons, People Director, The Grand Brighton

I’ve been at The Grand Brighton for 14 years now and I first joined as Deputy General Manager. Then five years...
Andi Hirons, People Director, The Grand Brighton
NAME

Andi Hirons,
People Director

Looking back at your time with the company, what are you most proud of?

I’ve been at The Grand Brighton for 14 years now and I first joined as Deputy General Manager. Then five years ago the hotel changed ownership and that’s when I took on the role of People Director. Those last five years have been a real journey, which included bringing the people function in-house where we set up that people focus within the business and really mapped out what those next five years would look like. I had a five-year strategy in place focusing on making sure we had effective leadership in recruitment, retention, development and my proudest moment at the end of those five years was that this year in July we were awarded ‘Best Employer Catey 2019’.

For me it cemented all the work we had done in terms of driving L&D into the property. When you’re a standalone function/business you don’t have that wider support of head office meaning everything we have done has been home grown and as such I’m really proud to see some of the academies, programmes and workshops that we’ve put in place that have really helped people’s careers flourish. There’s lots of examples which have led to that best employer status because it’s not something that is issued out, but we had some great successes with our retention. For example, when I took over the people function back in 2014, our on-year retention was at 47% and we grew that over time to over 70%, so we had a 23% growth in our retention of employees at the hotel, which are proud statistics.

 

 

What is the most exciting project you’re working on over the next 12 months?

One of the things that we have been working on is cementing the cultural values within our business. We’re taking that to the next level, and I have got a really exciting project I’m working on alongside our Director of Marketing. She’s been looking at refreshing our external brand and ensuring that we sit in the right place within all the different markets we operate. Now that project is over, we’re taking that to the next level and making sure we align our external brand with our internal brand and to ensure our internal brand and employee messages sit very much in conjunction with our external branding and mission. This is to ensure all of our employees can talk confidently about both – that internal and external branding – and everything is aligned so that we have got a really holistic brand, whether you are on the inside looking out or outside looking in. There’s a lot that involves including team profiling, customer profiling, tone of voice guidelines for our staff, re-writing our employee handbook and our internal comms strategy. There’s lots of different kinds of facets to that, but that’s a really meaty project that brings together all of the work we have done internally and externally over the last five years.

Looking back at your time with the company, what are you most proud of?

I’ve been at The Grand Brighton for 14 years now and I first joined as Deputy General Manager. Then five years ago the hotel changed ownership and that’s when I took on the role of People Director. Those last five years have been a real journey, which included bringing the people function in-house where we set up that people focus within the business and really mapped out what those next five years would look like. I had a five-year strategy in place focusing on making sure we had effective leadership in recruitment, retention, development and my proudest moment at the end of those five years was that this year in July we were awarded ‘Best Employer Catey 2019’.

For me it cemented all the work we had done in terms of driving L&D into the property. When you’re a standalone function/business you don’t have that wider support of head office meaning everything we have done has been home grown and as such I’m really proud to see some of the academies, programmes and workshops that we’ve put in place that have really helped people’s careers flourish. There’s lots of examples which have led to that best employer status because it’s not something that is issued out, but we had some great successes with our retention. For example, when I took over the people function back in 2014, our on-year retention was at 47% and we grew that over time to over 70%, so we had a 23% growth in our retention of employees at the hotel, which are proud statistics.

What do you hope to achieve at The Grand Brighton in the future?

I think when you’re such an iconic landmark in Brighton like we are, people’s perceptions sometimes can be that you can stay very dated and aligned to that history in the wrong way. So, one of our values is about being progressive and that we remain progressive in each of those areas within our people function, by continually evolving our engagement and development strategies to make sure that we’re always matching the diversifying needs of our workforce. We have got such a diverse workforce; 37 nationalities of staff work here, so we have to be continually reviewing everything we do to make sure it is hitting each of those needs of our employees.

What would you say your guiding philosophy for HR is?

I’m a firm believer that people are at the heart of our business strategy. Therefore, our business strategy starts with our people and we really focus on them first. For me, as the Director of that area, I see my role as a key influencer in business strategy to make sure that we keep people at the heart of that and continue to build that immersive experience for our workforce, while making sure that those values we have in our business remain solid and core and key to all of our strategic business decisions.

 

What is the most exciting project you’re working on over the next 12 months?

One of the things that we have been working on is cementing the cultural values within our business. We’re taking that to the next level, and I have got a really exciting project I’m working on alongside our Director of Marketing. She’s been looking at refreshing our external brand and ensuring that we sit in the right place within all the different markets we operate. Now that project is over, we’re taking that to the next level and making sure we align our external brand with our internal brand and to ensure our internal brand and employee messages sit very much in conjunction with our external branding and mission. This is to ensure all of our employees can talk confidently about both – that internal and external branding – and everything is aligned so that we have got a really holistic brand, whether you are on the inside looking out or outside looking in. There’s a lot that involves including team profiling, customer profiling, tone of voice guidelines for our staff, re-writing our employee handbook and our internal comms strategy. There’s lots of different kinds of facets to that, but that’s a really meaty project that brings together all of the work we have done internally and externally over the last five years.

What do you hope to achieve at The Grand Brighton in the future?

I think when you’re such an iconic landmark in Brighton like we are, people’s perceptions sometimes can be that you can stay very dated and aligned to that history in the wrong way. So, one of our values is about being progressive and that we remain progressive in each of those areas within our people function, by continually evolving our engagement and development strategies to make sure that we’re always matching the diversifying needs of our workforce. We have got such a diverse workforce; 37 nationalities of staff work here, so we have to be continually reviewing everything we do to make sure it is hitting each of those needs of our employees.

What would you say your guiding philosophy for HR is?

I’m a firm believer that people are at the heart of our business strategy. Therefore, our business strategy starts with our people and we really focus on them first. For me, as the Director of that area, I see my role as a key influencer in business strategy to make sure that we keep people at the heart of that and continue to build that immersive experience for our workforce, while making sure that those values we have in our business remain solid and core and key to all of our strategic business decisions. 

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