In order to stay connected with its staff, many of whom are based in far-flung locales, Newmark Hotels has developed a WhatsApp-based app to keep in touch. “Whilst it is accepted that the customer is king, we are nothing without our staff members.  The employees of any business are its most valuable asset – they are the soul of the business,” says Kate Zaaiman, Human Resources Director at Newmark.

“At the time of hard lockdown Newmark went into crisis management mode, looking at how we could support our team at the most basic level,” she says. “When we realised this was going to be a longer-term challenge, Newmark developed a unique, custom-built What’s App based communication app called ‘Smart Staff’, which allows us to easily stay in touch with every single member of the Newmark team – regardless of where they are located.  With this app we can check in on the staff members and see how they are doing.  The app also has a specially developed ‘help’ function that allows employees who are experiencing any problems to send a direct message to myself requesting assistance, and I personally call them back to see how we can help.”

“Smart Staff has a gamification element as a fun aspect for people to win prizes, as well as a reality TV component with videos filmed by team members, shared on the platform.  It is here where we also share our teams’ successes and wins,” says Zaaiman.  “Smart Staff builds moral and allows our staff – no matter where they are based, whether it is in a bush lodge or city hotel – to feel like they are part of something bigger – that they belong to a community.”

Newmark Hotels is also using the app to send out training material.  “Covid has forced hotels to reduce the size of their staff compliment and as teams have shrunk, remaining staff have had to do more.  This training support helps them to adapt and learn necessary new skills,” says Zaaiman.

“Most recently, we launched a new campaign which is communicated via Smart Staff called ‘Reasons to Smile’, and every Friday we send out a real, feel-good story about one of our staff members’ successes or a positive story from one of our hotels, or any other good news that gives our employees a reason to smile.  The aim is to boost morale during this tough time.  The internal culture of any organisation is key to the long-term success of that business and at Newmark we are committed to innovating wherever necessary to nurture our employees through this current crisis and in the future.”

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