Learning and development (L&D) initiatives are crucial in fostering personal and professional growth as they equip individuals with new skills, knowledge and perspectives, enhancing their performance and adaptability. In today’s rapidly-changing world, continuous learning is vital to stay relevant and competitive, and this is what Crowne Plaza, Greater Noida is helping its employees do.
When it comes to L&D, the company — which stands as the largest hotel within the IHG Hotels and Resorts portfolio in the South West Asia region — follows a specialised training process. It focuses on three primary aspects — soft skills training (managed by the training department), department-specific training, and finally, development training. Additionally, the process remains same across levels in terms of these three key aspects.
At the entry level, the company follows a ‘30-60-90 approach’. This approach makes it mandatory for those at the entry level to complete specific training modules within 30, 60 and 90 days of joining. Failing to do so may lead to their appointment not being confirmed. For instance, the first 30 days are witness to individuals attending sessions on IHG, insights into the hotel industry and the fundamental principles on which IHG operates. All of this (the smooth run of training process) is overseen by the training department.
“In our organisation, the responsibility for training is shared among departmental heads, operations managers and even those in non-operation departments. Unlike some other places where training is solely managed by a training manager, we prioritise a collaborative approach. This means, both the operations and training departments work together to ensure that all team members participate in specific training sessions,” shares Tirtha Roy Choudhury, director-HR, Crowne Plaza, Greater Noida.
Another initiative that works best at entry level is the ‘Interns Meet’. Under this initiative, the company imparts comprehensive training to the interns across various departments. After completion of this training, many of the interns are eventually absorbed as full-fledged team members within the organisation.
“In our organisation, the responsibility for training is shared among departmental heads, operations managers and even those in non-operation departments. Unlike some other places where training is solely managed by a training manager, we prioritise a collaborative approach. This means, both the operations and training departments work together to ensure that all team members participate in specific training sessions.”
Tirtha Roy Choudhury, director-HR, Crowne Plaza, Greater Noida
The primary aim of this initiative is linked to a broader skill-development segment that aligns with the Skill India initiatives, including the Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Yojana. For this, the organisation collaborates with institutions such as the Medhavi Institute, which puts students through a three-year course along with on-the-job training and simultaneous classroom sessions every Thursday.
It is one of the most renowned programmes, attracting participants from various regions, including the Northeast and Uttar Pradesh as well as people with unique abilities. Furthermore, the company actively trains individuals who are speech and hearing impaired, equipping them with the skills needed to excel in various roles within the organisation. “They are not limited to working in the bar but serve in the food and beverage (F&B) and laundry divisions too,” asserts Choudhury.
Every year, the company trains 30 individuals across various departments and 60 interns joining from colleges for six months. The company also attracts talent from its campus-recruitment drive where it offers a year’s management training to the candidates in various roles such as kitchen operations, sales and other functions. Upon successful completion of the programme, they (candidates) are promoted to assistant-manager roles in their respective areas.
For mid-senior levels and senior levels, the company has a mandatory FOSTAC (Food safety training and certification) training in place. This training is essential for anyone responsible for food handling.
“According to our organisation’s requirements, one out of every 20 employees must undergo training in FOSTAC. Currently, we have exceeded this mandate with 27 trained individuals in our organisation,” reveals Choudhury. The programme covers different fundamental aspects of hygiene, HACCP principles, food safety and food-area maintenance. Moreover, it includes company’s CDPs (Chef de Parties), kitchen stewards who manage utensil cleaning, kitchen staff, personnel in the F&B department, food inventory controller, receiving staff and those involved in the procurement process.
The selection of that one individual is tailored to different departments and job levels within the organisation. “For positions at the manager level and above, the interview panel includes myself, the department head and the general manager. These interviews are typically conducted in a face-to-face format, either across the table or through virtual team calls,” points out Choudhury. Similarly, for the top managerial positions, including that of department heads, the panel includes corporate ownership as well.
During the interview, the panel focuses on technical knowledge and assesses the candidate’s attitude, while also evaluating several parameters such as command over the English language and potential for scalability, ensuring that they have what it takes to progress to higher levels within the organisation.
Furthermore, the company has a ‘Personal Development Plan (PDP)’ in place for individuals who aspire to progress to the next career level.
“We establish specific parameters that are outlined in a written document. We plan out the goals that the person needs to achieve to reach the next level and based on these objectives, decisions about salary increments and promotions are made,” enunciates Choudhury.
That means, the company ensures that those being considered for promotion to the role of assistant manager are genuinely prepared for the same, rather than promoting them solely based on their length of service. Similarly, if someone in HR aims to become an HR manager, the PDP may involve discussions about elevating interviewing skills, understanding budgeting, managing staffing in different departments, gaining exposure to campus interviews, handling the organisation’s appraisal system, and even understanding the check-in process.
Recently, as a part of the company’s broader diversity and inclusion (D&I) objectives, it has introduced ‘Conscious Inclusion Training’ for its senior employees. The company has mandated an increase in the number of individuals being hired from diverse backgrounds, including specially gifted candidates and those who identify as transgender.
The training programme incorporates a variety of elements, such as talks and presentations by experts, including representatives from the Noida Deaf Society (NDS) and other professionals who possess extensive experience in this field. These workshops and discussions are not exclusive to senior management; they are made available to junior management as well. “This approach helps us tailor our facilities and services to accommodate various needs,” says Choudhury. Sharing an instance, he explains, “When we welcomed women from these special backgrounds, we conducted extensive sessions to ensure that everyone understood their specific requirements. We even sought external assistance to educate both our staff and the ladies themselves. A separate area in the ladies’ locker room has been set aside for their use, ensuring a comfortable and inclusive environment.”
“We’ve become the first organisation to include transgender individuals in our workforce, and they’ve excelled in their roles,” claims Choudhury.
He goes on to add, “We’ve even trained them in bar management, and one of them has become exceptionally skilled at crafting cocktails. Additionally, two transgender individuals are performing remarkably well as part of our F&B service team. This has also decreased our attrition rate significantly, because employees who join us tend to stay longer when treated well and provided with excellent training,” reveals Choudhury.
Previously, the company’s attrition rate stood at six per cent per month. However, in the last month, the attrition rate came down to just 1.2 per cent, while the month before that it was two per cent.