Prince Resorts Hawaii stays true to their ohana values with a positive employee experience
The hotel chain uses Dayforce to manage uncertainty, create a positive employee experience, and connect with its workforce.
Close your eyes and imagine yourself in Hawaii. You glide off the plane in Honolulu and find yourself greeted by a cloudless sky. Next, you’re whisked to your home away from home, a luxurious room with a view of fragrant, luscious gardens, and a fresh blue pool. The salty ocean air wafts in through the window as you wrap yourself in a crisp, white robe, destined for the spa. You close your eyes, breathe in deeply, and your shoulders drop an inch.
Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? Relaxation, wonder, and warmth are just the start of the unforgettable experience the Prince Resorts Hawaii team offers each and every guest who walks through its doors. From the bellhops and the concierge to the servers, chefs, and hotel managers – everyone goes above and beyond to provide unparalleled Hawaiian hospitality. The Prince Resorts team may not be at the center of guests’ vacation photos, but they’re at the center of creating the unforgettable moments in those photos.
“Our guests have created this mini-movie in their mind about what their experience is going to be like,” says Craig Anderson, Vice President of Operations for Mauna Kea Resort on Hawaii Island, home to two of the hotels owned and operated by Prince Resorts Hawaii. “Our job is to fulfill that expectation and make that movie even richer than what they had imagined.”
Anderson has been with the company for six years, and describes Prince Resorts Hawaii as three hotels, two islands, and one big happy family. The Honolulu-based company runs Prince Waikiki in Honolulu, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, and the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort on Hawaii Island, as well as three golf courses. Founded in 1965, it now employs approximately 1,550 staff. Consistent tourist volume means the company is able to provide full-time employment to the majority of its workforce. The remaining staff are part-time and casual employees.
“The way I describe the culture here at Prince Resorts is that it’s a family environment. Ohana, as we say here in Hawaii,” says Anderson. “We have employees who have been with us almost since opening. We also have multi-generational families, where children and grandchildren of former employees still work with us. We strive to be the employer of choice and we think that creating a culture where people feel at home and feel part of our family helps us to achieve that.”
Delivering a positive employee experience
Prince Resorts Hotel implemented Dayforce for HR, payroll, benefits, time & attendance, recruiting, and onboarding in January 2020. The move to Dayforce was prompted by several goals. The company wanted to eliminate disjointed legacy systems and time-consuming manual processes. Its leaders wanted to provide the workforce with easier access to schedules and information, from anywhere, improving communication and engagement across all locations. They also wanted to improve their recruiting and retention processes and metrics. Dayforce provided a unified solution that checked all the boxes.
“I think businesses everywhere are looking for ways to leverage technology to be more efficient and more effective,” says Anderson. “And for the tech-savvy portion of our population, this is just table stakes. This goes right along with their Instagram or Facebook or TikTok. They want that freedom, flexibility, and immediacy to be able to deal with their needs. Dayforce absolutely provides that immediacy and that direct connection to us, to help our employees get what they need in real-time.”
The company’s focus on communication, engagement, recruiting and retention is grounded in both family values and business realities: Hawaii’s relatively small labor pool makes finding qualified staff more challenging than in bigger markets. Creating a positive employee experience is key to the company’s success.
“We've always been an employee-focused organization. We believe in our people. We chose Dayforce because we wanted something that would connect us with our employees. And we knew the Dayforce would deliver that,” says Kisan Jo, President of Prince Resorts Hawaii.
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Supporting the team through the pandemic
The company didn’t know it, but it couldn’t have timed its Dayforce implementation better. Just a few months after Prince Resorts Hawaii rolled out the new platform, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and the world shut down. The company was thrown into uncharted territory, forced to close its properties to customers, while figuring out how to navigate a new world and stay connected to its workforce.
One of the early decisions Jo and his team made was to furlough employees instead of laying them off. The company relied on the Dayforce mobile app to stay in touch with furloughed staff and keep them apprised of changing state regulations, the status of hotel operations, and other updates. The company also launched periodic food drives to support employees facing financial hardship and used Dayforce to communicate details to staff.
Another early decision the company faced was whether to continue medical benefits for furloughed staff.
“We knew medical coverage was one of the most important factors for our staff,” says Jo. “Using Dayforce, we were quickly able to pull data and analyze the impact of continuing medical coverage versus having our employees forced to go on COBRA. From that data, we were able to make the decision to provide medical coverage, saving employees themselves from a large monthly expense. So, it has been really good for us in terms of making quick, rapid decisions for employees.”
Not only has Dayforce helped Prince Resorts make data-driven decisions, it has also been key to maintaining that close-knit family feeling and building loyalty among staff during a difficult and stressful time.
“The whole idea of implementing Dayforce just three months before the onset of the pandemic was genius because it allowed us to take the conditions of a once-in-a-lifetime event and communicate with our team members to overcome the obstacles of those restrictions with grace, ease, and efficiency,” says Anderson. “I couldn't imagine going through what we've just been through without Dayforce.”
Returning to work
As Hawaii began to open up, the Prince Resorts Hawaii team shifted its focus to preparing staff for a return to work, and planning for what business would look like in a new normal.
The team used Dayforce to communicate a staff survey. They used the results to gauge employees’ level of comfort with returning to work, and to identify the priorities and pain points management needed to address before welcoming staff and customers back.
“That enabled our staff to realize that they are being understood, and that they had some control. It allowed us to welcome them back in a more proactive and positive way and get them comfortable back in their roles during a time where there was so much uncertainty and concern about safety,” says Anderson.
Prince Resorts has now welcomed back 99% of its workforce. The company attributes part of its retention success to its ability to effectively communicate with and engage staff throughout the pandemic. Had it not kept in consistent communication with employees, the company may have seen turnover to competition.
The company is now using Dayforce to communicate in real time about operational changes and shifting travel restrictions. “Some business requirements have changed, and our ability to communicate those changes to our employees and to hear back from them on what their concerns are makes a big difference. Having this new tool really allows us to embrace some of those changes with less heartburn and more effectiveness,” says Anderson.
The company is also using Dayforce to track the vaccination status of its employees. Employees can upload their vaccine cards into Dayforce, which allows the company to gain a better understanding of the number of vaccinated employees, and the implications for staff and guest safety.
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Getting back to normal
After successfully weathering the pandemic and returning to work, Prince Resorts is now leveraging Dayforce to resume business as usual.
Just over a year after implementing Dayforce, Jo and team say they have reached 90% worker adoption of the mobile app that puts scheduling information right at the employee’s fingertips. This is an important benefit in an organization where schedules change frequently, sometimes on short notice, and where many staff work on the floor, not in front of a computer. The app’s messaging function allows employees to communicate directly with their managers or the HR team from wherever they are, eliminating unnecessary trips to work. The app also saves managers time, freeing them up to connect with their teams and helping them deliver better service to their guests.
“As a hotel manager, I use Dayforce for quite a few things, whether it be approving time off, approving schedules, changing schedules, or managing my own personal requests,” says Dodi Preese, Hotel Manager at Prince Waikiki. “Before, we'd have to be in the office, in front of our computers. Now, if any of our managers are on the floor and need to make changes, approve requests, or work on recruitment, they're able to do that anywhere. The time savings has allowed us to be better business leaders and better leaders in general.”
Jo also uses the mobile app. “It's on my phone, and I use it all the time to check announcements coming from Dayforce mobile messaging, or to check and approve vacation for our employees. I communicate constantly through emails or send out messages through the app to all of our employees. My impression of the tool has been great. Not everyone has access to emails, but I know over 90% of our employees use the app. So, when we send out a message through Dayforce, I know they get it and they understand it.”
Jo is happy the HR team now has more time to be a strategic partner to the organization. “HR shouldn’t just be paper pushers. They should be sitting at the table, and part of the decision-making process. Because at the end of the day, they’re the ones who are going to help us on developing, retaining, and continuing to recruit talented employees.”
Looking ahead to brighter days
As your dream Hawaiian vacation comes to an end, you lie on the beach soaking up a few last rays. You think back to the unforgettable moments you’ve had, and the memories you’ll take with you. Right at the top of the list is the sense of warmth and hospitality that permeated every aspect of your trip – all thanks to the family, or ohana, at Prince Resorts Hawaii.
“People want to be understood, they want to feel special, and they want to be in control,” says Anderson, a comment that applies as much to Prince Resorts Hawaii guests as it does to its employees. “By having Dayforce in the palm of my hand as an employee, all of those needs are met.”
As they look towards the future, the team at Prince Resorts Hawaii is eager to continue making guests’ dreams come true and maximize their use of Dayforce to drive business success and employee satisfaction.