With so much disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, people have taken the opportunity to focus on their physical and mental well-being. As things continue to move back to some sense of normalcy and employees come back to work, the Royal Park Hotel in Rochester, MI, is focusing on its staff’s health.
“Employee well-being has become front and center to us at the Royal Park Hotel,” said Ashley Rewold Alexander, the hotel proprietor, who spent more than a decade as a health care professional. “Through this pandemic we have learned that everyone’s personal journey and needs can be completely different but are tied tightly to their everyday happiness. Employee engagement is something we feel is foundational in order to have a successful business.”
Just as a guiding principle for working through COVID was “pivot,” so too is providing for the well-being of employees—who the hotel refers to as warriors. This includes options for employees like reduced weekly schedules, a four-day work week or fewer hours per day so staff can take care of things they might not have had to do in the past, like homeschooling children, caring for aging parents or dealing with mental or physical health issues.
“We have implemented flexibility when it comes to each employees work week,” she said. “We are empowering our employees to make the decision that best fits for them. After the pandemic we also introduced “days of rest” for our employees to take advantage of. Every Thursday we grill lunch and/or dinner for the employees so they are able to sit back and catch up with each other.”
The hotel also introduced its “Dog Days of Summer” employee initiative, which allows team members to bring pets to work on Thursdays, which Rewold said has been very popular. It has also introduced the Warrior of the Month and what it has dubbed the Park Squad to plan fun events using money raised for employees.
It has also changed the dress code. “We have completely changed our dress code in order for our employees to show WHO they are,” she said. “For example, employees can wear jeans, they can show their tattoos, they can express themselves through makeup or cool hair coloring. I also send a wellness Friday email that focuses around getting to know each other outside and work which has greatly impacted the employee relationships.”
The changes have been hugely popular among the staff. “We have had positive feedback across the board,” said Rewold. “The employees have been begging for more engagement and we have listened. It has boosted the morale hotel-wide.”
While the changes have been great for the employees, the hotel has already seen dividends now and hopes to see more in the future. “We strongly feel that the happier are employees are, the happier our guests will be. If an employee LOVES their job versus just liking their job, it will show through,” she said. “Part of our decision behind developing the employee programs has been in hopes this will retain and attract future employees. We know that once someone starts at the Royal Park, they will soon turn into family.”