All Change: HR in 2015

Conor Kenny on big changes for HR directors in the hotel industry.

NOTE: This article was originally published in the Q4 2014 edition of Hotel Industry Magazine.

HR is changing fast. If you don’t believe me, research the characteristics of Generation Y.

A seismic economic shift creates a new landscape. New landscapes mean the some well-worn paths no longer exist. The old way will not be the new way and changing views will require new thinking which, in turn, require new strategies.

That’s one influence but new generations are decidedly different. They see the world very differently.

Is your HR policy ready to emerge from recession and manage new attitudes?

So what’s coming down the line for HR Management in 2015? The short answer is, “lots”.

The Law:

There’s a difference between understanding HR procedure versus Employment Law. Law changes fast and even the best HR Managers often don’t know the difference. In a litigious society where loyalty is thin, you need to be protected, up to date and compliant. Many think they are, but discover they’re not in the bosom of Court.


Generation Y and Z value recognition very highly. Yet, they are loyal to themselves, their career and their ambition. ‘Loyalty’ is now far more complex than lip service. Smart hotels are already strategising around this.


There are many HR managers who evolved into the role because, as one hotelier said to me recently, they are “good with people”. That’s dangerous. HR departments need expertise, not hugs. Over the next year, much higher and specialised expertise will be needed. In most cases, the regular hotel HR Manager will be a generalist rather than a specialist. The future requires niche expertise and that will lead to the growth in outsourcing and the death of average generalists.

Outsourced Expertise:

Beware of slick marketing that tells you that outsourced HR companies are the answer to all your worries. Read the terms and conditions first. I have come across far too many hotels who outsourced their HR to discover what was not included when the day in court dawned.


Psychology will become a much bigger part of business and understanding how we impact on people. Smart hotels are already on top of this. If you care about retaining your best staff and managing your loose cannons, then isn’t it worth investing in?


The world is full of “training generalists”. Take a look, a deep look, at their web page, their CV or their client list. It doesn’t take long to see that generalists are experts at very little and that will be reflected in the quality of their training. Specialists will get busier and generalists will die.

Training and Content:

Boring, dull, monotone lectures won’t teach new generations anything. They need to be engaged, involved and excited. People learn in different ways. Really good training and development acknowledges that and designs training around a real understanding of how young people engage. Similarly, dull content, often bought, franchised or roll out since the beginning of time, will kill enthusiasm and that will play into the hands of your competitors.


Recruiting will become more difficult for HR Departments for three distinct reasons:

  1. As we emerge from recession, employees will have more options.
  2. How you recruit using traditional interview routes will not appeal to Generation Y or Z.
  3. Your reputation in the community will be paramount. How’s it looking?


Are you counting hours or productivity? There’s a difference. Young generations do not adhere to 9-5. In fact, left to their own devices, they work longer. As more and more people work from home, the challenge in the New Year is how you measure performance and productivity, not the hours behind four walls.

Social Responsibility:

On its own, no clear social responsibility programme or commitment, is a very good reason for young people not to want to work with you. If you have not engaged meaningfully with those less fortunate, Generation Y simply won’t engage with you.


Work is your daily village for an enormous part of our lives. It would be great if we were emotionless machines that ran forever. We don’t. Emotions, ill health, fear and more conspire to inhibit performance.

The old way of being dictatorial and intolerant of human frailty will certainly get a quick response. The problem is, the response won’t be one that benefits you.

The most important part of any business is the people who live there. They are your brand.

How you treat them will say a lot about your brand and, more importantly, about your future prospects.

Tread carefully, it’s all change for the world of HR.

NOTE: This article was originally published in the Q4 2014 edition of Hotel Industry Magazine.

About Conor Kenny: Conor is the founder and principal of Conor Kenny & Associates in Ireland and the UK’s leading independent training, HR and L&D company for the hospitality industry. He is also the author of Sales Tales. Discover more:

Share Your View

Hotel Industry Magazine: | Articles (RSS) | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions
© 2015, Jamieson Media, a UK Registered Partnership