Recently, a slew of CEOs and CHROs — including Matt Schuyler, Hilton Worldwide’s CHRO — spoke at the Great Place to Work Institute’s Summit

By Jacquelyn Kung

Recently, a slew of CEOs and CHROs including Matt Schuyler, Hilton Worldwide’s CHRO spoke at the Great Place to Work Institute’s Summit. There are some takeaways we can learn from it.

Working a Frontline Job

Hilton’s CHRO Matt described his week working on the frontlines of a hotel. He outlined how he stood in a laundry room the size of a large basketball court. Someone pulled the cord, and a ten-foot high pile of towels and bed sheets dropped from the chute overhead.

After spending all morning washing and folding these sheets and towels, Matt said that he wiped the sweat off his forehead and thanked everyone before heading to the door. “Wait,” his laundry manager said, “Where are you going?” Matt said that the work was done so he was heading out.

“But that was just the morning shift!” the laundry manager said and proceeded to the pull cord — the room was filled again with towels and sheets.

On the Great Place to Work Summit stage, Matt described how he had intellectualized the hard work of his 180,000 staff worldwide. But doing it himself was a different story.

The Next Week

The following week, when he and the other corporate executives were back in the ivory tower, they were brimming with stories and ideas from their week. One worked as a bartender. Someone else worked in maintenance. And another worked in housekeeping.

The corporate initiatives they proposed stemmed from what they saw and what they heard people wanted. For instance, they realized that hardly anyone knew about the tuition assistance that Hilton offers. What could they do to help?

How can we as a senior housing industry learn from these five days . . . and can we get our executives to do the same?

Blue Jeans and Cell Phones

Tim Ryan, the CEO of Price Waterhouse Coopers, also presented. He talked about the need to go to a blue jeans policy – yes, even among the suited New York crowd. He described how this policy shift was to keep on top of the war for talent.

Ultimately, it’s about trust between management and employees. In other words, this white-collar firm PWC trusts its 22-year-old analysts enough that they will choose nice clothes (including nice and not tattered or sagging blue jeans) to wear to client meetings. So Tim mentioned that when HR wanted to write in a dozen details on the blue jeans policy, he nixed it, saying that it was ultimately about trust.

Furthermore, Hilton’s CHRO Matt from the laundry story above spoke about how he and his fellow executives noticed how mobile phones have permeated their workplaces. It sounds familiar to our industry, right?

Hilton’s CHRO Matt very clearly described how this was only natural: can you imagine going 4 hours without your cell phone? Why, then, do we ask our associates to do that?

So Hilton is now moving to a workplace policy of allowing mobile phones while on shifts. Of course, they are designating discreet places where their employees can check their phones.

Senior Care and Cell Phones

In looking at survey data from senior care provider employees there were lots of comments around “blue jeans.” When we asked the CHRO for that particular company about it, she said that it’s because they had been considering a policy to allow blue jeans (which they passed). WOW. The trend has come to our industry.

Moreover, in walking around different communities in our industry, we have noticed that some communities have embraced cell phones during shifts as a replacement for the more traditional walkie-talkie.

What a tidal shift in our old policies. I don’t know exactly what to say. On one hand, it’s great for keeping up with the technology-enabled workforce. On the other hand, how can we ensure it’s not distracting from resident services and care?

What do you think?