Work-Life Balance: Using Emoji to Give Hotel Staff a Real Break from Work, Life News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – At the Royal Plaza on Scotts, an emoji is a powerful tool for mental well-being.

Just over a month ago, the hotel launched two radical initiatives for the still active hotel industry.

Under its policy of no communication outside of working hours, staff who receive messages after completing their shifts can respond with the “face with sunglasses” emoji to indicate that they are. in vacations.

The sender of the message will then know that his colleague should not be disturbed. If it is an emergency, however, the sender can indicate the emergency with three “shocked face” emojis.

Hotel general manager Patrick Fiat, 69, said the economic impact of the pandemic and ever-changing rules have put a strain on its staff, which number around 240.

So he felt the need to “make sure that when they’re home it’s really a break from work.”

“It’s tough in our industry, but I believe it can be done. Sometimes we use it as an excuse. You have a problem, you call your coworker or your supervisor and say, ‘Can you help me, can you do it for me ‘, “he explains.

Junior Sous Chef Aaron Tan, 38, welcomes the move, though he admits it took some time to get used to the new guidelines.

“I think twice before picking up the phone or texting my coworkers. If it’s not urgent, I’ll wait until the next day or when they’re back at work,” he says.

Mr Fiat says that although the new movement is still in its early stages, staff have given it the green light. “When I asked our people today, there is a big smile because they can take care of their children, they can cook, they can go to the market.

“They don’t have to take the phone everywhere they go because they know we’re not going to call. They can relax, they can enjoy (their free time),” he says.

The Royal Plaza also closed meetings on Friday.

This has turned out to be a huge boon, Chef Tan says, as it is a busy day for the kitchen staff to prepare in advance for the weekend culinary offerings.

Instead of having an hour-long morning briefing, her boss sends team updates through WhatsApp. Chef Tan now has time to organize the store, do the prep work, or check his service list. “The day is definitely less stressful and more productive,” he says.

Hotel General Manager Patrick Fiat (left) and Junior Deputy Chef Aaron Tan. ST PHOTOS: JASON QUAH

Ms. Katina Kassim, 46, Senior Sales Manager, uses Friday overtime to catch up on work delays and projects.

“Then we have an uninterrupted weekend with the family, to refresh ourselves and prepare for the challenges of next week. So that’s something we enjoy.”

The hotel’s new initiatives come two months after winning the Tripartite Alliance Award, awarded by the Department of Manpower, the National Trade Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers’ Federation.

It won the Work-Life Excellence Award for being one of the best organizations to work for in Singapore. Mr. Fiat, who has worked at the Royal Plaza for 23 years, also received the Leadership Award – Work-Life Excellence.

In an industry known for its high turnover of around 30 percent, the hotel has kept its rate low 14 to 17 percent.

Still, Covid-19 has made team bonds much more difficult. While staff used to relax on fishing and durian trips before the pandemic, they are now strictly segregated into different zones as some serve guests on stay-at-home notices.

Mr Fiat, who says his job is to ‘manage by walking’ and interact with guests and staff, laments: ‘I haven’t been in housekeeping and engineering for over a year. one year. I miss them. “

To maintain team bonds, its human capital department engages its employees through WhatsApp content that is not related to work. It ranges from sharing a coworker’s personal hobby to fun quizzes and even a recent milestone challenge.

At the same time, the expectations of job seekers have changed during the pandemic, says Fiat. Candidates are now asking if they can work from home, so “we have to be prepared to have flexibility,” he adds.


Senior Sales Director Katina Kassim. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

In fact, the hotel plans to allow administrative staff to work from home one day a week once workers are all cleared to return to the office, an unusual move in the industry.

Operational employees, who are based in the hotel, cannot take advantage of this, but they can take advantage of existing flexible working arrangements such as a 22 or 44 hour week, depending on their needs.

Mr Fiat says there will be no turning back even when Covid-19 is over: “We want this to remain our new culture.”

He jokes, “You know the saying – happy staff, happy guests, happy profits.”

Peter M. Doran