Congratulations to 2015 Small Business Nominee and Winner, Hampton Inn by Hilton London. The Small Business Award recognizes a company under 50 employees, that develops and applies the concept of ability first and best practices in recruitment, retention, and talent management.
The annual Ability First Coalition Champion Awards celebrate and honour businesses, companies, individuals and organizations that have hired and retained people with disabilities in London, Ontario and surrounding area.
Nominee: Hampton Inn by Hilton London
Representative: Stacy King, General Manager
Can you tell us a little about your business?
We are a 92 room Focus Service hotel that recently completed ½ million dollars in renovations. We offer free hot breakfast, free internet, free parking, indoor pool and state of the art fitness facility. We have meeting space accommodating up to 65 people.
How long have you been in business?
We opened on July 17, 2007.
How many employees do you have?
We currently have 34 employees consisting of mostly full time and some part time.
Did you have any prior experience working with people with disabilities?
Yes. In my past hotel positions it was mainly through coop placements by hiring high school or college students in providing them with opportunities to graduate. Currently we have approximately 8 employees with various forms of disabilities.
How did this experience help shape your outlook?
Focus changed when more efforts were made to inform people about disabilities. For example, by educating us that disabilities are not necessarily obvious or physical ones. Many times efforts are made in assisting to hire a person with a disability and job coaching is provided to help with the training efforts.
What were your initial feelings on hiring someone with a disability?
Fear of wasting time and money training someone that might not be able to handle the demands of the job; how the staff might feel; how the guests might feel; afraid of how the individual might be able to interact with the guests.
Why did you decide to hire someone with a disability?
Everyone deserves an opportunity to try; realizing the individuals are appreciative and willing to work hard and that the disabled individual is able to overcome their disability so the employer should be too.
How did you go about finding the right person(s) for the job?
We work regularly with organizations such as Leads Employment Services, Hutton House, etc. to help us screen candidates ahead of time and provide us with the individuals that they feel can meet the demands of the job.
Can you describe one of the positions filled?
A Room Attendant in the Housekeeping Department is responsible for cleaning the guest room for our guests. They are responsible for making the beds, dusting the room, emptying the garbage, cleaning the bathroom, replenishing the amenities, and vacuuming. They must have a keen attention to detail and be well organized with a sense of time management.
How has this employee worked out for you?
She has worked out extremely well. She is reliable, hard working, dedicated, and brings humour to the team. She is a real “fire cracker” in the sense that she is always smiling and always cheerful.
Were there any preconceptions you had about employing someone with a disability?
We wondered if we would be able to properly relay messages and information pertaining to the policies and procedures of the hotel. We often thought that hiring with a disability meant that there was a physical one as seen by the eye.
How has working with someone with a disability changed these?
We realize that skills are mostly trainable and that with the right set of tools you can train someone regardless on how to do the job. With having an individual who is willing to learn, it makes it that much easier.
What are some of the most common misconceptions you hear other employers talk about when they hear you’ve hired people with disabilities?
That they are not hard workers; that they aren’t able to do the job; that they create more work for the employer than hiring someone with no disability.
How do you attempt to correct these misconceptions?
By explaining to the person that these individuals often work harder than the other employees; that a disabled employee can provide a different kind of guidance to a non-disabled person; and that they become a mentor to the other staff; that turnover is often reduced in that area.
What is your advice for other employers?
Be patient and give it a try! With the laws under the Employment Standards Act, each person, regardless of their ability still has 3 months to prove themselves on the job. This 3 month probation could make all the difference in the world to the employee and to the employer who takes the time to work and coach them to do the job. Once you have an employee in place, they never want to leave because they are loyal and devoted to the company who gave them the opportunity.
Please finish this sentence, “I hire for Ability First because…”
Hiring someone with personality and personal motivation is more important to our organization than anything else. Most positions are ones that can be taught to an individual with the proper tools as long as the individual has the willingness to learn.
What does being nominated for the Champion Awards mean to your business?
It is an honour to be nominated and to be recognized as an organization who provides employment opportunities for all individuals regardless of their abilities. This nomination has made us extremely proud and has shown our staff that our hotel cares about the people we employ and that we will go above and beyond for our employees and our guests.
*article updated on November 11, 2015