MANAGERS at the Holiday Inn Leeds Brighouse recognise the crucial role played by its employees.

General manager Louise Dodd said: “The challenge of retaining guests as well as attracting new ones became more important than ever during the last year with both leisure and business travellers having to tighten their purse strings as the recession bit.

“Our employees are crucial to helping us do this.”

She said: “We work hard to attract and recruit appropriate staff and then we have a structured 12-week orientation programme which shows them what Holiday Inn as a brand is like.

“We believe that our staff are the one thing that can set us aside from the competition. We use the guests’ own feedback – verbally, through an online questionnaire and most importantly by return visits and recommendations.”

Despite the downturn, the hotel recruited for six part-time vacancies this year.

With statistics showing worker loyalty is decreasing, the Holiday Inn can boast 41% of its staff with five or more years service against the UK average of 24% – while its longest-serving employee has notched up 37 years with the company.

Personal development and training plans are undertaken by staff in consultation with line managers with mid-year and end-of-year reviews. NVQs are taught in-house while job-swaps and cross-departmental training is offered regularly.

Staff are thanked and rewarded for their loyalty and long service at celebratory lunches held every month and those with more than 10 years service also celebrate annually at regional level. Employee of the Month and Employee of the Year Awards are also held while daily employee successes are recognised by cards which can be redeemed for prizes of the employees’ choice.

There are special parties for staff and their families at Christmas, Easter and Hallowe’en. Staff get ready for the weekends with a “Filling Friday” breakfast and staff are invited to watch football tournaments on the big screen in the bar lounge. Celebrate Service Week is held twice a year with treats such as coffee and bacon rolls, a visit from the ice cream van, afternoon tea and lottery scratch cards for each employee.

Staff are offered complimentary membership of the health and fitness facilities.

The hotel has also improved the results of its annual employee survey in areas including pay, employee engagement, the quality of food and drinks in the employee cafe and staff opinions of the management team.

Employees are encouraged to “be themselves” and allow their personalities, quirks and diversity to shine through.

Staff at the hotel have been involved with several community projects, including cleaning the local canal, hosting a Diamond Jubilee party at nearby Clifton village and raising money for causes such as Overgate Hospice, the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice and Hollybank School.

Said Louise: “We all know that happy employees equal a more productive workforce and a happier workplace. The way to achieve this is to make them a part of what you do. Make them feel at home, allow them to be themselves and allow them to offer their opinions and ideas.

“We are achieving this at Holiday Inn and we are proud of the work we do on a daily basis.”