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Cateys 2019: Best Employer Award – The Grand Brighton

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Cateys 2019: Best Employer Award – The Grand Brighton

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“We deliver exceptional hospitality. That’s something ‘unusually good’, something outstanding. Exceptional requires an extraordinary team.”

The opening paragraphs of the Grand Brighton’s Best Employer Catey entry sets the tone for the blueprint the hotel has used to build, retain and develop its exceptional team.

While the Grand’s employees have always been at the heart of its culture, the hotel used a change of ownership in 2014 (when De Vere sold the property to Wittington Investments) to bring a refreshed and added importance to the people function of the luxury 201-bedroom hotel on Brighton’s famous seafront.

Creating a pipeline of talent, grown locally, retained but not held back, became the Grand’s mission, and its business mantra – people, delivery, sales – puts people first on every agenda, from boardroom to staff meeting.

An employee engagement survey that highlighted the need for improved communication was a real step-change for the business. In 2018 the hotel swapped unread post for the Grand Engage communication app, and introduced interactive quarterly communication meetings, involving games and activities.

Its ‘10 Grand Commandments’ underpin the culture the business has created, and end with: “communicate – leave no job undone”. Meanwhile, a Think Grand team is made up of employee representatives from each department to ensure ideas and voices are shared.

The Grand takes an innovative approach to recognising colleagues. Standout employees receive ‘Grands’, and every six months, employees who have earned 25 Grands are entered into a prize draw to win a two-night, all-expenses-paid trip to destinations including St Tropez, Venice and Amsterdam.

Exceptional People Weeks, held three times a year, give teams the opportunity to take part in social events, including quizzes, sports and wellbeing activities, but the highlight of the year is the Grand Hotel Awards, where the management team celebrate the successes of its most exceptional people.

Talent development is key, and the supervisory development programme has seen 55 employees graduate, with 95% securing promotions within six months of completion. The management academy has mentored 22 future managers, with 40% receiving promotions and two rising to head of department roles.

Back in 2014, only 47% of the Grand’s staff had more than one year’s service, and engagement levels stood at 82%. In 2018, 70% of staff had 12 months’ service and engage­ment levels had rocketed to 90%.

Staff clearly love working at the Grand – but when they are put so firmly at the heart of the business, who can be surprised?

What the judges said

“An extremely strong submission with great association with the heritage of the hotel. Solid values, especially through change and decision-making.”
Janet Roberts

“An ambitious take on a best employer practice with plenty of evidence to support the hotel’s initiatives. A real statement of intent for its people and a great attitude to match.”
Steve Rockey


The shortlist

CH&Co

Firmdale Hotels

The Grand Brighton

Manor House Lindley Huddersfield

Red Carnation Hotels

The judges

Julia Edmonds Managing director, Lexington Catering

Stephanie Hamilton Director of people and culture UK and Ireland, ISS Facility Services

Jo Harley Managing director, Purple Cubed

Moira Laird HR director, Valor Hospitality

Janet Roberts Senior partner and lead culture coach, Cycas Hospitality

Steve Rockey People director, Home Grown Hotels and Lime Wood Group

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