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Friday February 23rd, 2024

Hilton: Empowering millennials to change the world

Manesh Fernando, Area General Manager – Sri Lanka, General Manager – Hilton Colombo

There is a reason why Hilton Sri Lanka is a Great Place to Work for Millennials: it is a business with a purpose that speaks to millennial hearts looking to build a career by making a difference in the world, explains Manesh Fernando, Area General Manager – Sri Lanka, General Manager – Hilton Colombo.

Hilton is a Great Place to Work for Millennials in Sri Lanka. What makes Hilton attractive to millennials who are on the hunt for employees who place importance on their needs, values, and lifestyle choices?

There are two aspects to this. First, we have a brand that resonates with the expectations of millennials and any discerning customer for that matter. Second, we are a business with a purpose that can appeal to millennials looking to build a career with a company that is making a difference by driving sustainability with positive environmental and social impact.

Hilton (NYSE: HLT) is a leading global hospitality company with a portfolio of 18 world-class brands comprising more than 6,500 properties and more than one million rooms, in 119 countries and territories. Dedicated to fulfilling its founding vision to fill the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality, Hilton has welcomed more than 3 billion guests in its more than 100-year history, earned a top spot on the 2020 World’s Best Workplaces list, and was named the 2020 Global Industry Leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices. In 2020, Hilton CleanStay was introduced, bringing an industry-defining standard of cleanliness and disinfection to hotels worldwide. Through the award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors, the more than 115 million members who book directly with Hilton can earn Points for hotel stays and experiences money can’t buy. With the free Hilton Honors mobile app, guests can book their stay, select their room, check in, unlock their door with a Digital Key and check out, all from their smartphone.

Across the globe, Hilton is committed to promoting a concept called Travel with Purpose, our environment, social and governance (ESG) strategy to drive responsible travel and tourism globally, including our properties in Sri Lanka. So, I believe we have a brand that already resonates with millennials who care deeply about these things. From a business perspective, we have brands that target millennials. One such brand is Motto, which focuses on function, flexibility, affordability, desirable locations, and guest-empowered services. The same goes for Tru by Hilton, which has plenty of common areas where guests can socialize. The rooms at Tru by Hilton can convert from a single-person utility to multiple units to create cost efficiencies and helps keep the carbon footprint lower, thereby preserving the location.

Millennials thrive on experience, practicality, cost efficiency and a social lifestyle. They prefer to engage with organizations that are environmentally and socially responsible. Hilton, as a brand, identifies with this. Another factor, from a customer point of view, is assuring everyone of superior service and zero tolerance on discrimination of all forms. For these reasons, Hilton is also a great place to work if you care deeply about these things and want to make a difference in the world.

In Sri Lanka, the median age of our team is 34, so we are well attuned to the diverse needs of this demographic called millennials because they are the future. When setting out on careers, millennials look for socially responsible organizations and purposeful careers. But there is more: they look for new experiences and opportunities, job satisfaction, and personal growth. They want to be part of a community. They want to be heard and appreciated. But this is true for everyone else, and at Hilton, we provide those opportunities not just to millennials but anyone else who shares our values and vision.

How has the company benefited by creating an attractive workplace?

Understanding the needs of millennials and fulfilling them will help us nurture the future leaders of the company that can drive growth by attracting new-age consumers who are increasingly ESG-conscious.

For instance, Hilton is the first international hotel company to establish science-based targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint by 61% by 2030. Our water use intensity and waste, including food waste, will also be halved during this period. Worldwide, we are diverting waste away from landfills through donations, recycling, composting, generating energy from waste incineration and other opportunities. We sustainably source meat, poultry, produce, seafood, and cotton by collaborating with our suppliers to improve their environmental and social practices in line with our expectations.

Millennials make up half the Hilton team in Sri Lanka, and the fact that we have been able to keep our brand intact despite the economic disruptions of the last few years is a testament to how committed they are to Hilton and its values. They believe in what all of us are trying to achieve. We continue to deliver outstanding service despite the industry-wide devastation caused by the 2019 Easter attacks and the Covid-19 pandemic because our teams remain dedicated to the brand. We are equally committed to ensuring that the needs of all our employees are fulfilled, thereby showcasing Hilton as a brand committed to taking care of millennials and all its employees regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, race, or religion.

How do you align the goals of the organization with employee expectations? And how do you keep millennials motivated?

Effective communication is everything in engaging customers and employees. The Hilton brand stands on values that millennials can relate to, and they will love to be a part of our ESG journey as customers or employees. Listening to people is very important! We have many ways of listening to people, from online surveys to meetings. We keep ourselves fully engaged. We use social media to be in touch with each other, including Facebook and WhatsApp. We have an open-door policy, and I make myself available to anyone in the team; we communicate quite a lot with each other.

While a common thread unites us in purpose, we also understand that needs can be diverse across individuals and different demographics within the team. For instance, when we created a bio bubble, we had to consider the different needs of people with family commitments and those young people who had fewer commitments. At the crux of it, you need to understand and engage people at a personal level so that you can take care of them better and unlock their potential more effectively.

We strive to help teams reach a work-life balance. We let people take sabbatical leave when required and introduced fun but beneficial activities like yoga to bring vibrancy into the workplace.

The company also provides grants for teams to go out there and give back to the community to give them a sense of deep fulfilment.

For example, we recently completed a self-funded water purification project in Anuradhapura, touching the lives of around 400 families in a rural community who had no access to safe drinking water. We have other projects designed to uplift communities around the country. We donated three ventilators to help health workers treat people at risk from the Covid-19 pandemic, and a fourth ventilator will be delivered soon. When you get into genuinely wholesome work like that, it makes one feel like they’re doing more than just working and earning money.