Marriott International, Inc. is one of the world's most recognizable brand names, both in the hospitality sector and on the corporate landscape at large. Its enormous success is a produce of a number of factors, not the least of which is its unparalleled track record in employee relations. Today, according to Waddell (2006), "the Marriott family has more than 3,000 hotels in 67 countries around the world. The largest of the 15 Marriott brands - Marriott Hotels & Resorts - has more than 500 hotels worldwide." Its remarkable scale and growth share a reciprocal relationship with its status as the single best practitioner of employee retention in its industry and as an exemplar to other firms in this dimension of its operations.
Part A-Retention Management:
As noted here above, Marriott International is both one of the most successful and one of the most reputable names in the hospitality industry. Given its reputation for employee retention as discussed hereafter, this success is due at least in part to its competitive edge in the area of Human Resource Management (HRM). As the article by Mehta (2005) points out, its success in this area is indeed unique. According to Mehta, "worldwide researches have suggested that employee turnover is among the highest in the hospitality industry. Studies have shown that the average turnover level among non-management hotel employees in the U.S. is about 50%, and about 25% for management staff." (Mehta, p. 1) The consequences, Mehta indicates, are at least twofold. One consequence of this is a loss of revenue resulting from the higher expenses of recruitment and training. Another consequence that Mehta cites, which is of particular interest to our research, is the close correlation between employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction. This is of the utmost theoretical importance to the present discussion as we take employee retention to be a natural product of employee contentment and high company morale. In the discussion hereafter, it is appropriate to identify some of the evidence causes and effects of Marriott's achievements in the areas of employee contentment, morale and, ultimately, retention.
Real Practices of Marriott International:
One of the practices in place at Marriott is its continued emphasis on promoting from within. According to the article by CNN Money (2010), it is common for upper-management at Marriott to come from within the companies lower tiers. CNN Money reports, for instance, that "Marriott focuses on hiring managers from within, and Erica Qualls - who started out as a switchboard operator on the graveyard shift 15 years ago - is one example of that policy at work. Qualls is now general manager of the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta, which has annual revenues of $100 million a year." (CNN Money, p. 1) By showing confidence in personnel at every level and providing clear paths for career advancement, Marriott has had great success preening its own employees for the ranks of its future leadership. In addition to promoting greater internal consistency this helps to bring a great deal of positive morale to the company, creating an environment where personnel see clear opportunities for career growth regardless of starting position and compensation.
The confidence that Marriott can show in personnel at every level is not done on blind faith. To the contrary, David Marriott (2009) offers a number of recommendations to industry leaders based on the practices in place at Marriott. That he begins his counsel with the subject of recruitment should be instructive as this is the starting point for any firm aspiring to bring in employees with longterm value. Marriott indicates that "To ensure you have the best staff write a job description and key performance indicators before advertising the position. Think through the key interview questions and ask each candidate the same ones so you can compare 'apples to apples'. Know the type of person you are looking for, what you want them to do and their employment conditions and you are off to a great start." (Marriott, p. 1)
A main method by which the Marriott corporation has remained at the forefront of the industry in terms of the consistency of its personnel it the hotel chain's "Pathways to Independence," program, which simultaneously demonstrates the company's emphasis on employee retention and its commitment to the communities in which it operates. Here, according to Kukreja (2011), "the Bethesda, MD-based hotel chain has developed one of the country's most successful programs in training welfare recipients for the workforce. In some locations, Pathways alumni are 50% less likely to quit than the average employee. The program's unique structure - a matrix-style combination of internal and external support for the Company's welfare-to-work employees - makes it successful. Marriott supervisors help employees manage their professional lives, while Marriott 'case workers' help employees manage their personal lives. By splitting these two roles - and recognizing the necessity for both - Marriott has become an industry leader in turnover, customer service, and profitability." (Kurkeja, p. 1)
This program is highly progressive in recognizing the pressures in the personal lives of employees can impact workplace performance and even the ability to remain in a position. By taking a vested interested in helping personnel balance aspects of their personal lives while still respecting individual privacies, Marriott has postured itself as a powerful advocate for its employees. Again, in addition to promoting a heightened morale, the Pathways program dedicates company resources to ensuring that hired employees are given all opportunities and accommodations to remain with the company long-term.
Employees are also treated with a tremendous balance of initiation support and autonomy. Early oversight and positive performance, the text by Lam (2012) tells, can lead to what Marriott calls employee empowerment. Lam quotes Mike Truscott, the Marriott Pinnacle's Human Resources Director, who asserts that "Our goal is to empower our associates,' . . . he says that staff members are equipped to handle this freedom by participating in a thorough orientation process, which is also a key ingredient in the hotel's overall retention strategy. 'We have a two-day orientation process, we match new associates with a 'Certified New Hire Trainer,' and new staff also receive 30-day, 90-day, and annual assessments so that they're made aware of how they're doing,' explains Truscott." (Lam, p. 1)
There is little question that the Marriott's employee retention program has been successful and that the outcomes have been positive for the company's performance on the whole. As to the effectiveness of its efforts to prevent turnover, the article by the IBM Center for Management Research (ICMR)(2004) reports on "Marriott International's (Marriott) various innovative HR practices, which earned it the reputation of being 'the best place to work' in the hospitality industry." (ICMR, p. 1) This reputation is echoed in its consistently high ranking as a place to work for those in the lower tiers of its leadership structure. According to Botelho (2012), "for the third consecutive year, Marriott International, Inc. (NYSE: MAR) has been named to Working Mother's annual list of "Best Companies for Hourly Workers." Marriott was one of 12 companies named to this list which recognizes companies for having strong work-life cultures and best policies and programs for promoting women." (Botelho, p. 1) These findings suggest that Marriott has succeeded in creating a positive atmosphere which promotes a sense of value and commitment amongst employees. This is, consequently, manifested in what Business Week (2009) terms the very best retention rate in the industry.
Benefits and Limitations:
One of the main benefits of taking steps to retain personnel and to promote leaders from within is the contribution which this makes to the company's knowledge economy. This accounts also for the adjustment time availed to managers working in leadership roles and the focus given to allowing personnel to adapt to changing transaction processes. According to Nemo (2010), Marriott's internal personnel report that it has "slowed down the ability of mangers to move/transfer as often from one location to another. We still strongly encourage people to move to other parts of the organization to provide career learning opportunities, just at a little slower pace. In 2007, our location expanded from being solely a transaction-based center to one that includes more knowledge base roles. A role that is more knowledge base requires more on-board training than the transactional base roles. One thing to remember: do not underestimate the knowledge required for the transaction roles." (Nemo, p. 1)
This denotes that by retaining personnel, Marriott has benefited considerably in the continuity of shared knowledge among its employees and leaders. One key limitation that Marriott has traditionally worked to overcome, Nemo reports, is the need to keep its personnel abreast of changes in its processes, procedures or technological infrastructure. Nemo denotes that at times, the company changes even as employees remain a constant. This calls for a great deal of ongoing internal training.
Marriott's Business Objectives:
Importance of Retention Management Thereto:
Few things are more important to Marriott's reputation that its personnel,…