In Microtel, four front office jobs typically handled by a handful of people is done by one. While others may call it excessive and toxic, the group’s director for HR calls that “manageable”
The “multitask” model in human resources of Microtel Inns and Suites Pilipinas, Inc. is best seen in the persona of its group director for HR, Pacita Dela Cruz-Milan. As chief HR officer of 21 properties – 11 from Microtel and 10 from Paramount Hotels and Properties, a sister company – she not only oversees all personnel-related activities from recruitment to development to resignations. For a long time, she also personally handled training of all new recruits.
Most people would wonder how she can call the chain’s model a “manageable” approach when back- and front-of-the-house staff usually wear two hats, depending on need. Front office personnel, she said, can have as much as four functions. They answer the telephone, become cashier, check in guests, receive complaints, and act as concierge. Housekeepers, on the other hand, are rotated regularly between public area and room assignments. Oftentimes, they are the hotel’s bellboys and even drivers.
Microtel veers away from the assembly line-type of organization to a more lax and flexible kind because of size. Stripped of F&B and leisure facilities, its properties’ main selling point is room quality, specifically the bed. Room count averages from 50 to 75 rooms. The largest in the Philippines is 150-room Microtel Mall of Asia. That range doesn’t take more than 15 to 25 people from the hotel’s pool of direct hires and members of a cooperative to do things efficiently, Dela Cruz-Milan said. (Both companies don’t contract out from a manning agency, instead from a manpower cooperative).
Multitasking is not immediate from the time an entry-level starts real work, but getting the right people for this model is important. In general, Microtel absorbs young and inexperienced applicants because of their natural flexibility to be trained under a model different from upper class hotels.
Translation of theory into practice is gradual, said the group HR director. The basics are taught after a one-week values formation seminar. For front office staff, the property management system is taught first, while housekeepers are trained longer, typically at the Microtel Mall of Asia property.
The model helps fast-track career progression. At best scenario following exception performance appraisals, a front office employee can be promoted every year, from entry-level, to team leader, to supervisor, to management trainee, where he will be trained in all departments including engineering and administration. The employee is evaluated and may become an operations manager in other properties. A resident manager is the highest position in a property level. Microtel’s youngest resident manager who went up the ranks is just 33 years old.
Dela Cruz-Milan described the model as one that “maximizes” the top capabilities of an employee. True enough, even the resident managers of both Microtel and Paramount are men that are “everything rolled into one” in the most literal sense the idea can get. Their functions are extensive yet, again, doable. One case is a Microtel area manager HNM interviewed in September who had been group director of sales of Microtel and Paramount and property general manager in Batangas all at the same time.
With that kind of hotel training, the HR chief boasts that the “staff who leaves Microtel can go anywhere.” At a time when more than 7,600 rooms from different independent and chain brands are slated to open nationwide as of mid-2013, the chain’s thrust now is producing more supervisors out of the current pool of team leaders to supply an expanding Microtel portfolio.