How Radisson Hotel Group makes its fresh talent pool future ready

From nurturing talent across levels — from the frontline to the general-manager level — to ensuring inclusivity and women’s representation, RHG has several initiatives in place to develop its talent pool


Post-COVID, the hospitality industry recovered faster than expected. Many hotel groups witnessed a strong rebound in the industry and took efforts to further develop their fresh pool of talent to meet the upcoming demand. Radisson Hotel Group (RHG) is also one of them.

The Hotel Group has formulated a robust growth plan for the country, aiming to open a new hotel almost every month. “Presently, we have over 110 operational hotels in the country. This year marks a special milestone, as we celebrate Radisson’s 25th anniversary in India. Additionally, we have a robust pipeline of upcoming hotels, with a total count of 150 when combining operational and planned properties,” shares Yogendra Agnihotri, senior director – human resource, Radisson Hotel Group, South Asia.

Looking ahead, the Group is readying to create nearly 6,000 new jobs in the country. It has a rigorous talent- acquisition process in place that involves a series of assessments to find the right individuals who align with its values. The hiring primarily emphasises attitude over skills, as the Group prioritises the right mindset and then trains the hires accordingly.

Building the talent pool

Considering the overall scarcity of talent in the external talent landscape, the Group utilises various alternate methods to build its talent pool across different levels.

Programmes for each level: At the management level, the Group has a well defined management-development programme called Radisson Future Leaders. As part of this initiative, the hiring team visits the top 15 hotel schools, conducting interviews and selecting a pool of talented individuals. “For instance, in our previous recruitment cycle, we interviewed over 2,000 candidates to identify ten management trainees. This demonstrates our commitment to hiring and developing high-quality talent,” says Agnihotri.

“By offering these targeted learning and development programmes, RHG ensures that individuals at different career levels receive the necessary training and development opportunities to progress within the organisation and assume senior leadership positions”

Yogendra Agnihotri, senior director – human resource, Radisson Hotel Group, South Asia

“At the frontline level as well as across other organisational levels, we are actively working on creating alternative talent pools to address the talent shortage effectively,” shares Agnihotri. The Group has launched a unique talent programme in India, developed in collaboration with Heinz Pro and Job Plus. Spanning over five months, the programme aims to create a frontline talent pool.

The Group plans to fill various positions and roles through its fresh pool of both internal and external talent.

When it comes to senior-level roles, the most prominent position is that of general manager (GM). Hence, the Group places a strong emphasis on internal talent as the primary source for filling GM vacancies. In fact, in recent times, over 70 per cent of GM vacancies have been filled internally.

To nurture talent at the general-management level, RHG has also implemented the ‘Leader’s Excellence’ programme. This programme provides a well-structured development path for GMs, including a focus on grooming high-potential individuals within the organisation. Another programme called ‘Accelerate’ spans nine to ten months, and is designed to develop and prepare high-potential heads of departments for future growth and potential GM roles.

“By offering these targeted learning and development programmes, RHG ensures that individuals at different career levels receive the necessary training and development opportunities to progress within the organisation and assume senior leadership positions,” asserts Agnihotri.

Likewise, the Group has implemented a Supervisors Development Programme to train and equip supervisors to become frontline managers, with numerous upskilling and skill-enhancement initiatives in place.

For management trainees, the Group has another crucial programme in place, called the ‘Radisson Future Leaders.’ This management-training initiative spans 18 to 24 months and specifically recruits fresh graduates from esteemed hotel schools. Depending on the department, such as front office, housekeeping, F&B service, sales and marketing, or human resources, candidates undergo an 18-month development programme. Additionally, there is a well-defined 24-month programme for culinary skills and food production, led by its corporate celebrity chef.

Women’s representation: Historically, the industry (hospitality) has been predominantly male dominated. However, recognising the existing gap, RHG has made women’s leadership a key focus area within its five-year plan. “Within RHG, there is already a representation of close to 30 per cent women in the corporate office team, while in hotels, the figure stands at around 17 to 18 per cent,” shares Agnihotri.

To ensure progress in this area, RHG has also established specific key performance indicators or KPIs to drive the increased representation of women in leadership roles. The primary focus is on enhancing the presence of women at the general management level within the hotels, where progress and traction have already been observed.

In support of this initiative, RHG has recently launched the ‘Radisson Pioneers Unstoppable’ programme that aims to highlight and showcase women in leadership positions across the company. The Group is also implementing inclusive practices in their development programmes, such as ‘Accelerate’ and ‘Radisson Future Leaders’. These initiatives reserve 50 per cent of seats for women — both for fresh hires (through Radisson Future Leaders) and for internal team members participating in Accelerate.

“The goal is to achieve a gender ratio of approximately 40 to 45 per cent across all levels of employment within the organisation. By setting specific targets, implementing supportive programmes, and creating a culture that encourages women’s leadership, RHG is actively working towards increasing the representation of women in leadership positions within the organisation,” reveals Agnihotri.

Diversity & inclusivity: The Group actively promotes inclusivity and addresses potential biases or barriers by emphasising the importance of diversity throughout the organisation. Based on the belief that awareness is crucial in ensuring inclusivity, the Group is working on developing specific learning and development programmes to increase awareness among employees. The goal is for everyone to understand the significance of diversity and its positive impact.

Employee retention: Currently employing over 14,000 individuals across India, it is important for the Group to retain this talent. Therefore, to ensure employee retention, the Group has implemented various initiatives focused on engagement, learning and development. The programmes are tailored to different levels within the organisation — from junior positions to general managers in the hotel.

For managerial and senior levels, the company has many programmes in place when it comes to skill development. For general managers, there is a ‘Leader’s Excellence Programme’ that aims to enhance leadership skills and capabilities. Heads of departments benefit from the ‘HODs’ Foundation for Success’ programme, while future general managers participate in the ‘Accelerate Programme,’ followed by a ‘Supervisory Development Programme’ that lays the foundation for success for supervisors.

Skill enhancement: The Group has collaborated with a leading online learning-service provider to target skill-enhancement programmes for the frontline employees. For instance, the Radisson Academy Live concept, involves a series of week-long face-to-face training sessions, where employees can participate in up to 14 different programmes. These sessions cover a range of skills, such as presentation skills, interview skills, leadership development, creative thinking and financial-achievement enhancement.

From a technological perspective, RHG offers the Radisson Academy Online (RAO), which provides more than 500 programmes for all team members across levels. These programmes encompass brand-related training, leadership development and skill enhancement. It allows employees to learn at their own convenience and pace, providing a flexible learning experience.

“Our focus on learning and development is deeply ingrained in Radisson’s culture because we strongly believe in nurturing talent, which, in turn, helps us grow. This belief is evident in our comprehensive approach to learning and development,” enunciates Agnihotri.

Recalling his own experience, Agnihotri shares how he started his journey as a restaurant manager in one of the hotels, specialising in food and beverage service. Over time, he transitioned into the learning and development field, eventually becoming the head of learning and development for the company. These advancements were made possible due to the diverse range of learning and development interventions, including the mentorship programme.

Engagement & well-being: The Group also has a robust engagement strategy in place for the existing and upcoming talent pool.

Its ‘pay for performance’ culture rewards the individuals surpassing their business results.

For instance, the Group launched ‘Radisson Flex,’ which focuses on workplace flexibility. It allows employees to work at their own convenient time, giving them the flexibility to choose their work hours and even the days they want to come to work. This programme has also been implemented across RHG offices and has been extended to heart-of-the-house areas in the hotels, primarily administrative departments.

Additionally, the Group is exploring opportunities to increase the number of days off for employees.

Compensation & benefits: Another practice the Group follows is to continuously conduct internal and external benchmarking exercises to ensure competitive compensation and benefits packages. “We participate in market surveys and benchmarking surveys regularly to gather insights and make necessary enhancements based on the results. We also consider other industries beyond hospitality to ensure we remain aligned with market standards and meet the needs and expectations of our workforce,” points out Agnihotri.

Recognition: Recognition programmes are yet another area the Group focuses on. Additionally, the Group also seeks feedback from employees to further improve engagement. “We have an annual engagement survey called ‘Radisson Listens’. This formal process allows employees to provide anonymous feedback on various aspects of their experience, including preferences for specific benefits or improvements. The pulse surveys conducted every few months also help gather continuous feedback. The culture, as such, promotes open communication, encouraging employees to share their thoughts and concerns freely with anyone in the organisation,” concludes Agnihotri.

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