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By Lynne Koziey, MBA


Hilton worldwide uses an extensive benefits plan to compete in Calgary's tight job market.




Hiring can be a daunting task at the best of times, so you could forgive the management of Calgary’s newest Hampton Inn by Hilton for taking a break after successfully placing 35 fresh candidates.


But the team is hardly resting on its laurels. It now has another two hotels and a conference centre to staff, all part of the Calgary Airport Hotel and Conference Centre (CAHCC), developed by Prestige Hospitality Group and managed by Hilton Worldwide. The complex will include the 135-room Hampton Inn, which opened in December, a 122-room Homewood Suites, opening Spring 2014; a 266-room Hilton Hotel, opening in 2016; and a 30,000-square-foot Conference Centre, also opening in 2016.


In addition to the 35 employees hired for Hampton Inn, another 35 were hired in January 2014 for the Homewood Suites. Two hundred staff will be needed in early 2016 for Alberta’s first full-service Hilton Hotel and Conference Centre.


In Calgary’s tight job market, where job seekers have a lot to choose from, filling any position – let alone finding staff for three hotels and a conference centre – is no small task. Statistics Canada reports that in November 2013, Calgary’s unemployment rate was 4.6 per cent, one of the lowest in the country.


“The candidate pool is much different in Calgary,” said Hampton Inn hotel manager, William MacCallum, whose 13-year career in hospitality has been spent in Ontario.


“If I set up 10 interviews in Ontario for a front desk role, I would meet with 10 people. When I set up 10 interviews here in Calgary, five of them came in. I had a really difficult time meeting with candidates because there were a lot of other opportunities.”


MacCallum says that Hilton’s reputation as a premier brand along with an excellent benefits package helped secure the positions they needed.


Hilton’s benefits package, which includes life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment, long- and short-term disability and extended health, dental and medical coverage, aims to not only attract employees, but retain them – the hotel also offers an RRSP matching program after one year of service.


MacCallum says that while many prominent companies now offer benefits packages, Hilton’s sets them apart because it offers 100 per cent dental and health coverage.


Potential employees are informed of the benefits package during the interview process and MacCallum says he believes it makes a difference in employees' decision to work with Hilton as opposed to with another hotel.


However, given the competitive market and need to hire for multiple positions, it’s clear that a healthy benefits package alone wouldn’t draw in employees; it was critical that MacCallum and his team be strategic in their hiring approach to ensure they hired a stellar staff.


“It’s important to look outside of the box and not keep a narrow vision on trying to find a front desk agent, for instance,” he said. “As opposed to just hiring for that role, I always like to look two or three steps ahead. I’m thinking about where that person can go and how I can invest in them. I think that’s what HR professionals should be looking for these days – not just to fill a position but to see how you can grow and develop that person.”


Jenn Murray agrees. The 31-year-old Calgarian, with a diploma in Hospitality Management from SAIT Polytechnic, jumped at the opportunity to get on board early.


“I’ve worked for prestigious hotels in the past and I saw that the Hilton was coming to Calgary and I know that it’s a good, reputable brand... I wanted to be part of that and part of the growing team,” said Murray.


“I think it’s important for the employer to know what the employee wants to do and where they see themselves growing in the company. The fact that there will be a lot of room for movement and advancement within Hilton is another aspect that I was attracted to. The role is really exciting – we’re coming together as a group and building this hotel together.”

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