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This article is brought to you by Marco Polo Hotels – Hong Kong

The hotel group has taken decisive actions to make good use of its manpower during the crisis by breaking roles down into skills.

The global pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to almost every sector, especially the hotel industry, and Marco Polo Hotels – Hong Kong was no exception. One of the most prominent challenges was excessive manpower due to business disruptions, and the situation was exacerbated since one of its hotels, Prince Hotel, was put under renovation starting in early 2020.

Amidst uncertainties and turbulences, how adaptable and responsive is a business to change will determine its success or failure. Evidently, Marco Polo Hotels – Hong Kong has taken the former route.

Faced with the problem of manpower mispairing amidst low occupancy rates, the crisis management team, led by the HR and supported by the top management, decided to adjust the company’s strategies to maximise the use of its resources. For instance, the request for cleaning services was surging, even as restaurants became a dominating source of revenue. As such, the team came up with the idea of building a flexible work taskforce with multiple skills, namely the ‘Flex Team’, in which everyone is capable of working cross-functionally in different departments, or even out of the hotels.

marco polo hotels dalip singh and cyrina chan(Left to Right) Dalip Singh, Area General Manager; and Cyrina Chan, Area Director of Human Resources, Marco Polo Hotels – Hong Kong

“After identifying the manpower issues in different departments, we came up with the plan of deploying excess manpower to the positions in high demand to better utilise human resources,” explains Cyrina Chan, Area Director Human Resources (pictured above).

“Apart from deployment, we also recruited associates from administrative departments to perform lateral services in operations departments to tackle the problems.”

This novel flexible arrangement was not restricted to internal positions – it extended to outside contracts to create positions and generate revenue for the hotels. Leveraging the different expertise of its staff, the HR team reached out to various parties including other hotels, shopping malls and offices, to offer its professional service solutions. As a result, the group secured several contracts and created numerous temporary job positions for excess staff members.

While keeping the business afloat, employee wellbeing was not forgotten, and carrying out a CSR project was a good way to motivate people. In a campaign called ‘Hotel Care Project’, a taskforce comprising representatives from different departments, especially the departments with a surplus of manpower, was formed to carry out projects to boost their sense of purpose.

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This effort saw the Uniform & Laundry team produce reusable masks with their expertise, which were delivered to all guest contact and cleaning associates; while some front office staff formed a production line and manufactured hundreds of colouring books, which were delivered with DIY hygiene kits to underprivileged children by the management team.

Marco Polo Hotels – Hong Kong’s unique ideas were surely worth the effort – with more than 100 additional positions obtained from external parties, over 200,000 working hours accumulated, and a significant amount of revenue generated. Beyond the numbers, the projects led to enhancement of staff development and growth, the build-up of an agile culture and mindset across the company, as well as compliments from stakeholders regarding staff’s performance.

“We will need to keep learning, adapting, and evolving,” affirms Cyrina. “In the future, we would provide more opportunities for our employees to experience working in different departments, and enhance the agility of staff by cross-departmental projects. This will also enhance mutual understanding between different departments and facilitate collaborations!”

Moving forward, Marco Polo Hotels – Hong Kong will keep fine-tuning its recovery strategies and re-deploying its resources to maximise manpower yield. With the development of recruitment channels to target the young generation next on its radar and the reopening of Prince Hotel this year, as Cyrina says, “A ‘flex team’ is always ready for any challenges.”


Photos / Marco Polo Hotels – Hong Kong

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