Brook­street Ho­tel

Ottawa Business Journal - HR Update - - Awards 2009-10 -

When em­ploy­ees are re­ferred to as “ p a r t n e r s , ” new re­cruits are ini­ti­ated game show-style and HR man­agers re­ferred to as “cast­ing direc­tors,” you get a good sense of the work­ing at­mos­phere at Brook­street Ho­tel.

Af­ter all, the four-di­a­mond ho­tel, of­fer­ing a full-ser­vice spa, fine din­ing, golf course and state-of-the-art fit­ness stu­dio isn’t just re­ju­ve­nat­ing for its guests – it’s also a place where cre­ativ­ity, shared chal­lenges and fun take cen­tre stage for em­ploy­ees.

Man­age­ment put a lot of thought into the in­ter­nal en­vi­ron­ment be­fore open­ing its doors in 2003, ex­plains cast­ing di­rec­tor Chan­tal Smitheram.

“We chose to call our em­ploy­ees ‘part­ners’ to re­flect the type of re­la­tion­ship we would strive to have with the peo­ple who would choose to work for Brook­street,” she says. “We strive to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment where part­ners’ ideas are not only val­ued but en­cour­aged, where man­age­ment and em­ploy­ees work in part­ner­ship and where part­ners can be who they are at work, and their unique tal­ents are ap­pre­ci­ated.”

“Be You, Be Brook­street” is the re­cruit­ment tagline, and it seems em­ploy­ees are all for it. The fol­low­ing com­ments are taken from an in­ter­nal em­ployee sur­vey con­ducted ear­lier this year:

“I have wit­nessed first-hand the pos­i­tive re­sults of con­stant em­ployee/em­ployer re­la­tions. When I men­tion I work for Brook­street I say it proudly and with my head held high be­cause I know that we truly are the best,” wrote one.

“Best place I’ve ever worked by far! Ben­e­fit pack­age is great, fa­cil­i­ties are beau­ti­ful, wages are com­pet­i­tive, peo­ple are over­all won­der­ful,” an­other com­mented.

The ex­ten­sive ben­e­fits in­clude med­i­cal, RRSPs that are 50-per-cent em­ployer-matched (up to a cer­tain limit), two leisure days, up to $50 per month dry clean­ing al­lowance, dis­counts on room rates, golf, food and spa for fam­ily and friends, 24-7 coun­selling ser­vices, Hertz, Costco and CAA dis­counts, along with train­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and events.

Ms. Smitheram says the Brook­street team works hard to be creative in ev­ery­thing they do.

“We are about to launch a new first day on the job ori­en­ta­tion pro­gram that in­cludes a game we de­vel­oped in­ter­nally called Brook­street Land, based on the Candy Land game.”

Other ex­am­ples in­clude game show healt­hand-safety train­ing, a scavenger hunt to launch its strate­gic plan to em­ploy­ees and “un­chain your brain” train­ing ses­sions.

With such in­no­va­tive ap­proaches to com­mu­ni­ca­tion, it’s in­ter­est­ing that em­ploy­ees flagged more op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­put and bet­ter com­mu­ni­ca­tion across de­part­ments as ar­eas to im­prove on dur­ing the 2009 Em­ploy­ees’ Choice Awards sur­vey. But feed­back was over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive with many writ­ing that they couldn’t think of any­thing to change. The “S.P.I.C.I.E.R.” awards, for part­ners who best demon­strate the val­ues of sen­sa­tional ex­pe­ri­ences, pas­sion, in­tegrity, com­mit­ment, in­no­va­tion, empowerment and re­spect, re­ceived the most con­sis­tent praise.

“They en­sure we know how we on an in­di­vid­ual ba­sis have an im­pact on the suc­cess of the or­ga­ni­za­tional goals,” wrote one em­ployee.

“It’s not about the one thing that the ho­tel does, it is about the whole pack­age. Work­ing here is truly a re­ward­ing and ful­fill­ing ex­pe­ri­ence!” praised an­other.

“We never stop try­ing!” agrees Ms. Smitheram. “Our val­ues are much more than a poster on the wall – they are our daily guide to how we do busi­ness and how we in­ter­act with our part­ners.”

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