Far East Hospitality

Far East Hospitality is a regional hospitality assets owner and operator, with a portfolio of close to 16,500 rooms under the management across over 90 hotels and serviced residences in nine countries – Australia, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Singapore. 

At the 10th annual edition of HR Excellence Awards, Singapore in 2022, Far East Hospitality won the gold award for 'Excellence in Crisis Management and Recovery'.

In view of this achievement, we catch up with the team from Far East Hospitality on how this was made possible through the activation of its Crisis Management Team (CMT), comprising members from HR, marcom, and more.

Q Congratulations on the achievement! Could you take us through the highs-and-lows of your winning strategy?

Far East Hospitality (FEH) manages 26 hotels and service residences across Singapore, Malaysia, and Japan. We approached our business in two prongs > current and forward. We launched a 'Far More Assured' campaign to assure our guests of the steps we undertake to keep them safe and the virus at bay – through intense and increased frequency of cleaning and sanitising common spaces. We maintained close communication with them and checked in regularly on their wellbeing.

In consideration of business for recovery and trust of clients, the decision was made to waive cancellation charges for weddings, events, and room reservations. Clients could postpone their event/wedding indefinitely. Guests who held a room reservations were given options to postpone indefinitely or cancel with a full refund. Everyone were appreciative of the empathy and understanding by the business, as it was not the case with other establishments, which were still imposing charges based on purchase terms.

FEH braced the storm guided by our modular 'Business Continuation Plan' (BCP) and 'Crisis Management Team' (CMT).

We managed to keep our business losses to the best that we can, while keeping employees gainfully employed and meaningfully engaged, and now observing our recovery plan coming into play.

Q How did the HR team identify and align the business & employee needs, and craft out this perfect solution?

FEH proactively activated the CMT, a ready team comprising members from HR, marcom, etc., as well as the chain of communication and roles were revisited.

The CMT discussed a strategy to devise a crisis management plan to create a coordinated and effective approach to allowing business continuity with minimal interruption. The CMT covered immediate responses, critical action plans, mitigation points in different scenario and communications, messaging to the different channels and platforms, etc.

To prepare and protect our business in Singapore and overseas from the impending outbreak, and its effect, CMT called for activation of the business continuity plan (BCP). Guided by the pillars of prevent, prepare and predict, the focuses then were on our human capital and business. Our goals in our BCP were to manage losses, prevent an internal outbreak, and retain jobs for our engaged employees.

Q Could you share the results that your strategy has delivered – be it on the business, HR, or people side?

The agility of our CMT with our human Rresources team has enabled us to successfully achieve our human capital goals, which were to retain employment for all employees, protect employees working in the facilities, and to meaningfully keep our employees engaged

It has been 30 months, and FEH has not terminated any employee nor conducted any form of salary/benefits cut. None of our employees in the facilities were infected because of their work. All employees had a function to contribute to, even if they operated from home. This is helped us maintained the wellbeing of our employees.

The best testimony of our effort was the recent acknowledgement by Singapore Tourism Board, where FEH was awarded Most Exemplary Employer 2022.

Q What is your message to all the stakeholders who have supported you in this journey?

This pandemic has helped the organisation established both crisis and business excellence. Their contribution, positivity, agility, and resilence have allowed us to put our strategy, structure, system and processes and products that we have been planning to use to the test.

We had streamlined and cut down on processes, and while at it, we evolved where applicable.

We attributed our success to our shared language and workplace culture, encapsulated in the acronyms – 'ACTS OF GRACE' - attitude, customer, team, savviness, observation, fulfilment, gratitude, responsiveness, anticipation, change, engender Trust.

FEH is privileged to contribute to the remarkable collaboration between public and private sectors. It was inspiring that everyone banded together during the crisis of our lifetime!

Q What are you most excited about when you think about the future of HR?

The era of the pandemic emphasises the urgency for a more dynamic talent and work model. There is a need to focus on agility, scalability, and the continuation of creating an employee experience which resonates and is enjoyable.

FEH will continue to strengthen initiatives which focus on building leadership, culture, and employee experience. HR will play an important role in ensuring that individual mindsets and behaviours translate into the company’s culture and purpose. Through these initiatives, it is an opportunity to create value which will lead to increased employee engagement and trust.


Image / Shutterstock

Read more interviews on why organisations have won trophies for their HR practices - head over to our Winning Secrets' section!

Follow us on Telegram and on Instagram @humanresourcesonline for all the latest HR and manpower news from around the region!