TL;DR – We chatted with a HR Director who works in a hotel group that is not afraid to hire mature workers – and we mean MATURE…
You’ve read about 85-year old Uncle Goh who is quite an unconventional mature worker.
Now meet his HR Director, Mr Leslie Lenus who is just as unconventional.
We sat down with Leslie for a chat and spoke with him about his job as the Director of Talent & Culture at AccorHotels Singapore and their experience hiring mature workers.
Let’s hear a bit about yourself?
I am Leslie Lenus and I’ve been with AccorHotels Singapore for the past 7 years.
How does Novotel view mature workers?
The journey started of about 7 years ago when I joined. The standard policy for matured workers was a one-year contract. It was a bit lay-cheh (inconvenient)! So I suggested an open contract (workers above the age of 62 can continue on in their employment without a break) for the mature workers. Then when we came up with the collective agreement with the union, they asked if we have a re-employment policy. I said “No, we have an open contract.”
I feel if people want to work, why limit them? If they are not well, they can choose to retire.
In fact some of these mature workers are actually very good, but don’t want to work full time, because they aren’t working for the money. One of them has a daughter who is actually a Head of Department in a prestigious girls’ school.
How many workers do you have above the age of 70?
We have 6 or 7 of them above the age of 70. We have a carpenter who is 71, our security officer is 75. Some of them have been with us for over 30 years.
Has there been some job redesign for these mature workers?
Job scopes will be the same, except that there is two things: Heads of Department (HOD) are more careful: for example Uncle Goh doesn’t use ladders at all. He does whatever he can. Whatever he can’t do, he will inform his colleagues. We don’t let them carry heavy equipment or goods.
And when they continue on in their employment, their pay packages remain the same. Whatever level they are in, it remains the same; nothing changes.
We also don’t have them work on weekends. So that they can rest and spend some time with their families.
But frankly, it is not daunting to hire and work alongside older workers because they’re actually just as fast or might even be faster than the younger folks.
A mature worker who works in the bar has also been able to take the initiative to concoct her own drink which I’ve tried and it’s really good.
Were the other colleagues unhappy with the arrangement?
Initially the other colleagues feel that it was a little unfair that they had to work in shifts and the mature workers don’t have to. But we managed to change their mindsets. We spoke with them and explained that the mature workers were around to help.
And we encourage the younger colleagues to speak with these mature colleagues to learn some life skills and experience too. So these workers are an inspiration to us.
So we see it both ways, they add value to our work, and also they help us make up the headcount in the tight manpower market. It satisfies one issue that I have about finding the right people.
Are you more relaxed with mature workers when it comes to them asking for time off when they are not well?
Yes, we are. But actually across the board we allow the HODs to exercise flexibility. Unless it becomes a trend, otherwise we allow this flexibility. It’s a win-win for us.
Are there (enough) jobs in Singapore?
We have jobs. Although hospitality can be quite difficult to look for manpower. In almost every function and department, we are looking for manpower across all our hotels. The first thing we look for in AccorHotels is whether you are able to blend into the culture. It is about bringing the values into the culture.
Are Singaporeans picky?
Yes, they are. Singaporeans are picky. And Milleniums especially, are very particular, some don’t want to work during weekends and others want a 9-5 job.
For a fresh grad, is there progression in the hospitality industry?
There are lots of opportunities for progression.
Promotions are fast and can actually be faster than other industries. We have someone who has been promoted 4 times in 5 years, and he started from the bottom.
What about flexible working arrangements (FWA)?
We try to support FWA as much as possible, it’s a Singapore initiative, so we support. But we leave it up to the HODs to make the arrangements.
What local dish best describes your current job? And why?
At AccorHotels, I deal with people of diversified backgrounds and characters and train them towards a cohesive culture where everyone works as a team. It is also important that despite the differences, they understand one another and develop a sense of belonging to the hotel, making it their second home…
Although International Buffet is not a ‘local food’ but it consists of a mix of local and international delicacies… and Singaporeans love buffet!