At the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver, close to fifteen per cent of the housekeeping room attendants are over 45 years old and are valued, seasoned employees, most of whom have been with the company for many years. Michael King, safety and loss prevention manager for the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, has put a focus on housekeeping where the most impact has been felt from aging staff due to the physical nature of the job. It’s King’s goal to retain these workers and to keep them safe and healthy for the remainder of their careers.
“We do not find an increase in injuries among older workers however when an older worker is injured they take longer to recover,” says King.
Prevention for Retention
Taking a focus on prevention, the Fairmont provides information sessions for all of their staff through the hotel HR directly in the form of wellness newsletters, wellness activities and visits by third parties, such as their benefits provider who puts on seminars and sessions on various topics relevant to demand and interest by colleagues.
Running a multigenerational workplace can be challenging, but the Fairmont leverages it as an opportunity for mentorship and knowledge sharing. “Within our industry I would say that the age variances enhance the environment we work in as it leads to greater sharing of knowledge and also creates opportunities for mentoring and acceptance of the fact that each generation is different from the previous one mainly due to advances in technology and how the work environment has changed due to expectations and the changing economy,” comments King.
In regards to training, it’s all about experience, not age. The Fairmont pairs more experienced colleagues with newer staff. “We conduct training for colleagues with a selected previously trained and experienced colleague where their age is of no consideration,” says King. “It is more about passing on good knowledge through programs such as Train the Trainer. Our competitive advantage comes from hiring practices I believe, and then the subsequent training that helps develop the colleagues’ knowledge and skillset.”
For more information, see King’s interview in “Hotel Makes Room for Aging Workforce” article as published in WorkSafe Magazine.