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How Hilton is enabling flexible work for frontline employees

October 20, 2022, 12:01 PM UTC
Hotel front desk employee
Hilton is offering more of its frontline workers the autonomy to choose where they work.
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Good morning!

Corporate employees aren’t the only ones who crave flexible work arrangements. Frontline workers want them, too. 

At Hilton, offering frontline and hourly workers flexibility is a cornerstone strategy to attract and retain talent, particularly as travel soars post-pandemic, says the hotel chain’s CHRO, Laura Fuentes.

Creating a flexible work model is relatively simple for knowledge workers: give them a laptop, an ergonomic chair, and send them on their way. It’s much trickier for frontline workers who must be physically present to perform their jobs. 

“Flexibility before was what we talked about for corporate workers,” says Fuentes. “We need to now really address this for hourly workers. We’re working to crack the code on what this means as far as where our team members work.”

Hilton’s solution is to provide more mobility opportunities and allow employees to work at multiple hotel properties. Fuentes’s strategy mirrors the gig work economy. Employees have the autonomy to choose where they want to work, when they want to work, and pick up shifts. 

“If you’re served in a hotel today by someone in one of our restaurants, we would like for that same team member to be able to say, ‘This afternoon, I want to work at the Disney location because that gives me two different properties that I can learn from,’” she says. Alternatively, “‘In the winter, I’d like to work in California.’” 

Dan Schawbel, managing partner of HR research and advisory firm Workplace Intelligence, says the move to allow employees to work in various places speaks to a larger trend of young talent seeking jobs that don’t tie them down to one location. 

“There’s this big trend of the nomadic life of workers wanting to work in different cities, states, and countries. And there’s a larger trend of not just companies competing against companies for talent, or industries competing with industries for talent, but countries competing with countries for talent,” he says.

Schawbel, who researches workplace trends and flexibility among frontline workers, points to Spain’s new digital nomad visa as an example. Portugal also announced earlier this month that it was launching a digital nomad visa. 

Still, Schawbel says the main type of flexibility that hourly workers want—and employers are more willing to give—is schedule flexibility. 

“Companies are trying to figure out the value proposition to be able to attract and retain hourly workers because of low supply and high demand for those jobs,” he says.

Amber Burton
amber.burton@fortune.com
@amberbburton

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