a, This is Aeon Plaza Hotels
Aeon Plaza Hotels operates three unique locations in Amsterdam: Hotel Die Port van Cleve, Dutch Design Hotel Artemis and Dutch Design Hotel Vondelpark. Although each hotel has its own individual charm, the brand’s connecting thread is ‘Dutch’, to pay tribute to Dutch culture and history, which they lovingly introduce to their corporate and international guests. This style makes them authentic – but do they also set themselves apart from other hotels and employers in other ways? How can you ensure that your guests as well as your employees continue to come back to you? We talked to Geertje Duquesnoy, Human Resources Manager at Aeon Plaza Hotels, about the secret to their perfect staffing.
“Dyflexis helps us take everyone’s needs into account and easily fill available shifts with flex workers.”
Staff shortages are a pressing issue for many hospitality and hotel operators, including Aeon Plaza Hotels. They always manage to fill their shifts, however, thanks to a combination of a pleasant work atmosphere, attractive benefits, career opportunities, working with temps and, of course, a great scheduling system.
Geertje: “To set up perfect staffing, you need more than just sufficient employees. Optimal scheduling and correctly recording worked hours are a combination of several factors. We make sure that everyone we employ enjoys working with us and does work that makes them happy. With a great scheduling system like Dyflexis, we can make sure that we consider our employees’ needs and that we have no trouble filling open shifts with flex workers.”
Being a good employer is the foundation of growth and success
The corporate culture at Aeon Plaza Hotels is the foundation for being a good employer and, therefore, also job satisfaction. As Geertje explains: “Our vision and mission are strongly present on the shop floor. We encourage creativity, innovation, and passion in everything we do.” One significant added value of the company culture is its informal and flat hierarchy. One of the executives has lunch with several employees every month, so that all departments in the company can get to know each other in an approachable way, and exchange ideas.
Geertje: “I always tell everyone on the shop floor: run things as if it was your own business. This is how we encourage initiative and entrepreneurship. We encourage employees to go the extra mile and pursue their passion.” And successfully so: thanks to this approach, employees come up with fun initiatives to make guests’ stays even more memorable. An example: one of the employees at Die Port van Cleve realized an indoor garden and green roofs: an unusual and sustainable experience for visitors and colleagues alike.
They also treat their international guests to classic Dutch pancakes, for example, simply because they are so fond of our local treats. “Our employees feel valued and seen because we make time and budget available for great ideas like these. They make our guests’ stays unique and personalized. Automating processes like scheduling creates time and space to give everyone even more personal attention.”
“Automating scheduling creates time and budget for creative employee initiatives.”
Aeon’s development and advancement opportunities are another important part of the pleasant work culture. Geertje: “We set ourselves apart as an employer by offering excellent fringe benefits, like bonuses and training. If you are good to your employees, what goes around comes around. We can tell, among other things, by our low levels of absenteeism and how long people stay with us. Our general manager started here as an intern, way back when, and then progressed to doorman, financial officer and now managing director.”
Aeon Plaza Hotels not only facilitates fabulous careers, they also pay extra allowances to reward employees’ flexibility and commitment. “We literally offer a flexibility allowance: if an employee replaces a colleague or works an extra shift because of sudden changes, we pay them more. They also get paid more if they work on public holidays, Sundays or do night shifts. Dyflexis calculates these last three allowances automatically, which saves us a lot of manual calculation work.”
Perfect staffing for personnel and departments
Give the unique character of each Aeon Plaza Hotel, each branch also has its own departmental structure. Die Port van Cleve has a restaurant and an old so-called ‘brown café’. Dutch Design Hotel Artemis also has a restaurant, several meeting and event rooms, and a gym to boot. Each of these departments requires individual expertise and suitable staffing.
Geertje explains how they plan for this: “We allocate a budget to each department in Dyflexis. We also use a separate tool with accounting for this purpose. We set up an appropriate work schedule based on expected turnover and personnel costs.” The schedules are created by all the department heads. They are responsible for scheduling more than 100 employees in total. “To make all the schedules work, we depend on temporary workers. Because we work with flex workers, we have no trouble filling all our shifts.”
“Workforce Management allows us to create work schedules based on expected turnover and personnel costs.”
Dyflexis offers not only a user-friendly way of scheduling, but also other advantages. For example, employees can check current schedules via the Dyflexis app and clock in and out using the clocking system. Geertje: “Before, we used to do our planning in Excel and also keep track of hours and allowances in there. This is very time-consuming, and cumbersome to boot.
Thanks to the app and the clocking system, we can prevent discussions about schedules and hours worked.” Clocking shows employees and supervisors exactly when and how much an employee is working, which makes it easier to check and approve hours. “Transparency and clear communication are essential parts of a good working relationship. We want everyone to know where they stand.”
“Scheduling based on data allows us to establish a healthy work-life balance for our team members.”
This openness is also very useful when it comes to automating tasks that are more administrative, such as leave requests and calculating time-for-time hours. Geertje: “Employees can enter their availability and preferences for certain shifts in the app. We often use the ‘unavailable’ feature. If people want to make sure we won’t ask them to work, they can request leave.”
The app also gives employees clarity on accrued balances. Geertje: “We prefer to keep residual balances, such as time-for-time, as low as we can. We also ask employees to use their TfT hours before they expire.” With Dyflexis, the overview of who has gone over their contract hours is always up-to-date. “We use all this information to create schedules and determine duty hours. Using this data , we are able to take into account everyone’s wishes as much as possible in our planning. We are also very pleased with the Working Hours Act feature – it helps us foster a healthy work-life balance for our team members.”
Workforce Management in the framework of good business practices
Geertje has been working with Dyflexis since 2014 and is still very happy with it: “Initially, we used Dyflexis only for scheduling, and tracking and approving hours worked. Today, Workforce Management is a crucial part of our business operations. We check the dates of hours worked and costs incurred for each department, allowing us to measure productivity and set budgets in line with how busy we expect things to get.”
Aeon Plaza Hotels is planning to automate even more in the future. Geertje: “It may sound contradictory, but it is actually by automating that we can improve mutual contact. We can make room for more personal attention because we complete tasks smarter and faster. Thanks to Dyflexis, we can give this attention not only to each other, but also to our guests.”
At the same time, all the steps Aeon Plaza Hotels is taking toward an ideal work environment also contribute to their growth plans. Geertje: “It was our aim to have five different branches by now. Covid-19 unfortunately threw a spanner in the works, although we made it through that period relatively well.” Workforce Management is also helping the company with its growth ambitions for two new sites: “With Dyflexis, creating new branches and departments in the system is a doddle. It is simply a matter of copy/paste. In this way, growth becomes ever so easy!”