In her position as head of HR for Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK and Ireland, Julieann Brennan is responsible for developing and leading all aspects of the humanresources and people strategy for the group’s business and team members.
“As one of the fastest growing hotel groups in the UK and Ireland, we currently have 52 hotels and almost 4,000 employees. Growth is very much at the heart of our strategy, so we continue to look at expansion opportunities. For that reason, it is a very exciting time not only for me, but for all of our team members.”
The group has over 11,000 bedrooms, with most hotels having achieved 4-star AA recognition. “Given our ongoing growth and expansion, we have put in place strong platforms and initiatives to support the business,” she explains on the process of implementing new HR strategies within a fast growing hotel group and the continuously changing demands of the hospitality industry.
Initiatives include workforce and succession planning, recruitment and retention, employee engagement initiatives, and delivering more learning and development opportunities than ever before.
“Within the area of new skills development, for instance, we have created a blended learning and development platform which includes both online and face-to-face training models to support our teams in providing a great service for our customers, whilst at the same time developing their own careers.”
Such continued skills development contributed significantly to the 4 star AA recognition achieved across the group, supported by a bespoke customer service programme.
“I am also privileged to have an amazing HR team that thrives not only in terms of our expansion plans and the opportunities that this brings, but also in supporting our employees across the business. Together with Edward Gallier, head of learning and development, Darren Walker, our head of talent resourcing, and Lauren Sargent, group HR manager who leads our excellent local HR teams, we have a very strong team in place to support the HR function, and growth and development across our new and existing hotels.”
The brand is a recent entrant into the UK hotel market, backed by a significant international presence, with more than 150 properties across major cities in Germany, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic.
Jurys Inn and Leonardo Hotels UK and Ireland operates 37 hotels under the Jurys Inn brand and 15 hotels under the Leonardo brand, comprising 47 in the UK, 4 in Ireland, and one inPrague.
It is a member of the Fattal Group which operates over 200 hotels in 17 countries, including the operating platform for all 37 hotels within the Jurys Inn portfolio, and the leaseholds for 15 Jurys Inn hotels. It is also part of Pandox AB, an established European hotel property investor and owner with 143 hotels and approximately 31,600 hotel rooms in 15 countries, including 20 Jurys Inn freehold hotels.
Human resources supports the group’s ongoing growth by ensuring that we attract and develop a talent pipeline to support these growth ambitions, not just for now, but long into the future.
"Additionally, we are currently working on new employee engagement initiatives, as well as our commitment to sustainability activities across the business.”
Julieann underlines the variety of career opportunities across the hospitality sector in 2019: “The opportunities for people in the hospitality industry today are varied, and ever increasing. As the tourism sector continues to grow, our industry grows with it, making hospitality a fresh and exciting space to work in.
“There is a lot more to this industry than might have been thought of before, and a lot of opportunity for growth and professional development within the sector. What is great for us is being able to see the progression of our employees and facilitating their growth within the business through developmental programmes with clear career paths.”
In an industry where talent needs to be nurtured and retained, ongoing career development plays a key role in maintaining a committed and motivated workforce.
“We have many specific initiatives in place to support the development of our talent, which includes doubling the number of graduate managers we took into the business this year, increasing the intake onto our Insights programme, which develops head of department roles, and increasing the number of employees on our Accelerate and High Potential programmes, which develop deputy and general managers for the future. The great thing about this is that as the company grows there are fantastic opportunities for our people to grow too.
“In fact, over 80% of our general managers have been promoted from within, which is something we are very proud of,” she adds.
Charity partnerships are a further element of the group’s activities that are developed across the hotels: “As a company we want to ensure that we are making a positive difference in all of the communities that we serve. We are therefore proud to support charities such as Scope, Capability Scotland, Rehab and the Cedar Foundation.
During July and August our team members were actively engaged in our ‘Charity Challenge’, which this year centred on ‘Leo the Luggage.’ Leo has captured the imagination of both our teams and many of our customers as he travelled around all of our hotels raising money for these very worthy causes.”
Julieann also points to the group’s initiatives in supporting people with disability while also raising awareness of the barriers they face in retaining fulfilling employment.
“An additional campaign very close to our hearts is the work that we do around helping people with disabilities to join our workforce. We are proud to have approximately 70 people with various disabilities working in our hotels, all of them contributing in a positive and meaningful way, and our aim is to grow this number further.
“The partnership with these charities focuses on raising awareness of the barriers people with disabilities face getting into and retaining fulfilling employment while supporting and promoting opportunity and inclusion for people with disabilities.”