2024 Top 30 Best Places to Work in Hospitality

Top 6


In a nutshell A pan-European hospitality management company operating all categories of hotels and serviced apartments for private and institutional investment partners

Locations 18 properties in the UK

Employees Over the past 12 months, the UK support team headcount has increased by 66% to 83 employees

The good work Cycas has been doing in recent years to create a supportive, positive working environment is continuing apace. Director of talent and culture Victoria Shaw is clear about the company’s responsibility to employees: “Our purpose is to develop and inspire Europe’s best hospitality team …both within our hotels and specialist hotel support teams,” she says, adding that company culture is rooted in growth, integrity, fun and teamwork.

Over the past year, as the economic squeeze has increased pressure on household incomes, the company has introduced initiatives to support hotel workers. These include the popular Cycadette Pantry, a safe space where team members – known as “cycadettes” – can donate an extra item or two following their weekly shop so that colleagues who are struggling financially can pick up any groceries they might need. This voluntary system both supports the team and helps reduce food waste.

Some 99% of respondents told the Korero survey that the company “cares about its people”. In fact, scores across everything from “leaders are supportive, positive and inspiring” to “clear company values” were well into the 90% range.

The compliments in the employee comments section were overwhelmingly positive. One which captured the overall sentiment, was: “Cycas Hospitality is more than a workplace, it is a family of likeminded people, focused, empowered and championed to deliver the best hospitality to our guests and each other. It is progressive company where ideas are welcomed, received and implemented. We all feel part of our culture, because we are. In over 20 years in hospitality, I finally found my home.”


In a nutshell The largest hotel operator in Ireland and a fast-growing presence in the UK and continental Europe. It owns 31 hotels, leases another 19 and runs three via management contracts. It has 11,000 rooms with a further 1,548 in the pipeline.

Employees 1,049 (1,048 in 2023; 921 in 2022)

Dalata’s impressive and ever-evolving people initiatives mean it regularly secures a high ranking on this list, and fittingly it scooped an Employee Net Promoter Score of 90% against a benchmark of 61% on Korero’s survey.

The company is particularly good at anticipating employee needs. When food inflation reached its peak, management recognised the financial strain on team members and took action. To provide a healthy, hearty meal to all employees grappling with high food costs, they increased staff food allowance by 20% and made sure high-quality staff meals were served in all hotels, and that the menu changed every week. This commitment to detail saw Dalata become one of the first UK hotel groups to bear the accreditation of the Health at Work Workplace Wellbeing Charter.

Management continuously looks for ways to support the team. Last November, it relaunched its benefits package, tailoring it to employee mental fitness.

It’s a testament to this healthy people culture that “achieving together as a team” attracted one of the highest scores from Korero respondents, at nearly 99%. The consistently upbeat employee comments are further evidence that this company walks the walk. “I’ve been working in hospitality for over 10 years now across various companies and Dalata has been the best hotel group I’ve worked for. Great communication, plenty of development opportunities and a senior management team that care about their people,” says one happy worker.

Another says: “Dalata is an amazing company to work for who really care about team members as individuals. The company is always looking for ways to improve things, such as staff benefits and pay, and it spends a substantial amount on team development.”


(Gleneagles in Auchterarder and Gleneagles Townhouse in Edinburgh)

In a nutshell An globally acclaimed five-star hotel and sporting estate with 233 rooms operated by Ennismore. It has a sister property, the 33-bedroom five-star Gleaneagles Townhouse and members’ club in Edinburgh, which opened in June 2022

Location Perthshire

Employees 1,136; 36% labour turnover

Gleneagles’ commitment to building an inclusive, caring culture has been galvanised by world events. Fallout from the pandemic – which saw staff on reduced furlough pay for nine months – followed by the current cost of living crisis has put into sharp focus the need to offer staff a service-led approach to addressing their needs, not just at work, but in their lives.

Cue the launch of Moments that Matter (MtM), a framework that offers team leaders guidance on providing kind, fair support for employees through any significant milestones, from happy occasions such as having a baby or getting married to others such as losing loved ones, experiencing miscarriage, undergoing gender reassignment or facing menopause.

MtM is not just about giving gifts for celebrations or guidelines for compassionate leave, it also provides a comprehensive range of support and wellbeing services. These include access to trained mental health first-aiders; a 24-hour telephone counselling service; one-to-one counselling; an on-site occupational health advisor; weekly physiotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy clinics; and an onsite gym.

This support hasn’t gone unnoticed among the team, as comments show: “The past five years have seen Gleneagles make a seismic shift in its commitment to its people. It’s a welcome and highly regarded change that we’ve all benefited from enormously,” says one.

A knock-on effect is that it improves service standards, too: “We work in an organisation that is at the top of the industry and sets very high standards, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make mistakes. We’re encouraged to learn from our mistakes and do it differently next time.”

No wonder 86% of respondents feel the company “cares about its people” and a similar number feel they work in a “positive and welcoming work environment”.


In a nutshell Co-founded in 2015 by Manchester United’s famed Class of ’92, including Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, the four-star 133-room Hotel Football, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, has five event spaces, a restaurant and bar

Location Adjacent to Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium

Employees 60 (turnover rate of 25% among full-time staff)

As the UK’s only hotel with a rooftop five-a-side football pitch, this venue is a favourite with families and sports fans worldwide, attracting a record 52,000 guests in 2023. So, clearly its staff need to be on their game.

However, given the demands of this football-focused hotel, its location, and the heightened requirements on match days, it often relies on contracted seasonal workers. This might be a problem for some hotels, but not Hotel Football. An impressive 50% of these non-permanent team members – mostly students – hold more than a year of service, reflecting their loyalty and, crucially, ensuring service standards are consistent.

This loyalty is echoed throughout the permanent team, with 72 employees notching up more than two years of service, of which 22 exceed five years, representing a solid staff retention rate of 75%.

Head of talent and culture Laura Kelly singles out the length of service benefit as having a clear impact. The benefit begins at £100 for one year’s service and rises to £500 for five years and over.

The hotel’s benefits package prioritises the financial wellbeing of employees during the cost of living challenge. Other highlights include enhanced maternity, paternity, parental and adoption leave policies, including six months’ full-pay for maternity, six weeks’ full-pay paternity leave and a staff discount on food and beverage.

Needless to say, all this has scored well with the team, with 94% of survey respondents saying the: “benefits available are clear and attractive”, resulting in an Employee Net Promoter result of +99% versus the +61% benchmark.

Employee comments reinforce the fact Hotel Football is top of its league. “My workplace values diversity and inclusion and promotes a supportive and collaborative environment. The leadership team is dedicated to employee development and encourages open communication. I feel fortunate to be a part of such a positive and inclusive work culture,” says one.


In a nutshell A blend of industrial chic and Japanese simplicity, the 164-room hotel has a world-renowned Nobu restaurant, Nobu bar and terrace, a penthouse event space, spa and gym

Location Shoreditch, London

Employees 140 (turnover for 2023: 39.4%)

During a difficult time for the industry, this hotel has tried particularly hard to ensure it is communicating and engaging with as many team members as possible in the most productive way. While the multi-generational demographic of the team has made this challenging, Nobu Hotel London Shoreditch has bridged the gap through technology.

“We believe [our] technological initiatives create an inclusive work environment. [We are] leveraging technology to engage and support all employees from different generations in the ever-evolving hospitality industry,” says one manager.

These include the health and wellness apps Wellable and Health Assured, which address varying concerns across age and gender, and digital training platform Flow, which caters to different learning styles. Employees of all generations engage with social recognition platform Huggg, which boosts motivation by acknowledging staff achievements.

Management accommodates different communication preferences across its diverse workforce through a mix of channels, such as instant messaging Yapster, to ensure they are reaching everyone.

They also encourage different generations to share knowledge through in-house training sessions, with younger staff providing technology insights and older employees sharing industry expertise. And to reduce stress, task automation tool Knowcross streamlines processes, with digital feedback pulse surveys allowing everyone to share their opinions openly and anonymously.

The hotel’s next steps are to look at using flexible scheduling software to address the needs of different age groups and allow for easy shift-swaps, plus introducing mentorship programmes to foster collaboration between younger and more experienced employees.

Technology is proving a winner, with 98.58% of respondents saying they are enabled to “do a good job”. Interestingly, 90% agree that the hotel offers “fair pay”.

Crucially, technology is balanced by the personal touch. “I feel supported by my managers to do my job well, and I feel they always say thank you, especially if it has been busy or we’ve had lots of events,” says an insider.


In a nutshell A 307-bedroom luxury five-star hotel managed and owned by Millennium Hotels & Resorts. Facilities include Café Biltmore, Grill 88, the Terrace, the Tea Room and the Pine Bar, plus a ballroom and function suites

Location Grosvenor Square, London

Employees 221 (237 in 2023)

It’s been a heady few years for this world-class hotel. In 2019 the property rebranded to Hilton LXR Hotels & Resorts and then in 2022 transitioned from being managed by Hilton to becoming a Hilton (LXR brand) franchise under the management of the owning company Millennium Hotels & Resorts. And last month, the luxury hotel parted ways with Hilton to move to operating as an independent hotel from 1 May under the Biltmore brand.

“What we felt was missing at the time was making this the ultimate address, not only for guests, but also to work at,” says director of HR director Sting Khumalo. “Since then, we have developed the hotel culture from barely seeing a smile on corridors to an overdose of good mornings, good afternoons and thank yous when finishing work.”

This culture of making staff feel they are appreciated and belong has been the Biltmore Mayfair’s mantra for the past 18 months, putting wellbeing front and centre with initiatives ranging from providing staff benefits and addressing issues that impact health to promoting inclusion and engagement. The Hospitality Action Employee Assistance Programme has had a positive effect on team members at work and this in turn has impacted their personal and family lives.

One of the stand-out initiatives during the current economic crisis has been the provision of staff meals outside work schedules – basically three meals a day. Staff are appreciative: “Amazing support from management, great engagement activities and excellent staff canteen with food that is fresh and delicious. A friendly team where everyone feels welcome,” says one employee.

Another adds: “I keep referring my friends because I love to work here.”

With a whopping Employee Net Promotor score of +99% versus the benchmark of +61%, it’s evident staff feel valued. Every category on the Korero survey, from “positive and welcoming work environment” to “leaders are supportive, positive and inspiring” and “respect for work-life balance” have scores hitting around 97% and 98%, soaring above benchmark figures from 70% to mid-80%.

Top 7 - 30

7 Signature Dining

In a nutshell A privately owned, founder-led contract catering company working exclusively in the care and senior living sector

Location 20 sites in the UK, from the Midlands to the south coast

Employees 135 staff with a fully retained management team

This company’s regular appearance in the top 30 is proof that owner Paul Robottom doesn’t just talk about people being his greatest asset, he acts when it comes to safeguarding their wellbeing.

Having a robust support system in place as the team navigates the cost of living crisis has been a priority. At Christmas, the company runs an advent calendar event with 25 days of prize draws. Staff are randomly selected to win prizes ranging from food hampers to experience vouchers. This financial boost is so popular the caterer is also running a ‘Summer Sizzler’ prize draw in June to give the teams some mid-year fun.

Alongside the wellbeing programme, management adds small, personal touches to make staff feel valued. Festivals and special occasions are marked with treats for all, from cupcakes to Easter eggs, and every member of the team is sent a card on their birthday.

It’s evident that this is a tight-knit organisation, as employer comments in the Korero survey reveal. “Love the company from the owner down,” says one.

“I joined the senior apprentice scheme as a mature colleague. Signature Dining gave me my life back,” says another.

And the survey figures speak volumes, too, with an Employee Net Promotor Score of + 92% versus a benchmark of +61%.

8 Red Carnation Hotel Collection

In a nutshell A family-owned and run collection of four- and five-star hotels

Location The UK, Ireland, Guernsey, South Africa, Botswana and Switzerland

Employees UK 550; globally 2,500

This family-owned company is another regular on this list, thanks to its commitment to providing high standards of staff development from entry level to management. It was named a gold employer by the Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality in 2023, while its graduate management programme has won the Princess Royal Training Award in 2017, 2020 and 2023.

One of Red Carnation’s particularly successful initiatives has been to fund a degree apprenticeship programme. Now on its fourth cohort, post-A-level students can earn while they learn, working four days a week with the company and attending lectures on hospitality management at the University of Gloucester on the fifth day. Throughout the three-year course they are mentored by a senior manager and have regular catch-ups with chief executive Jonathan Raggett.

A healthy work culture usually comes from the top, and that’s what stands out about this company, with the ethos of good communication and opportunity driven by Raggett and executive vice-president Victoria Tollman. In fact, some 73% of respondents agreed that leadership inspiration was “brilliant” against a benchmark of 58%.

“Outstanding support structure, and clear vision. No micro-management and ability to work your way to achieve team goals,” says one satisfied respondent.

9 The Pig in the Wall

In a nutshell With 12 bedrooms and a deli-bar, this is the smallest hotel in the eight-strong Pig portfolio – a collection of lifestyle restaurants with rooms – and its only city-centre bolthole

Location Tucked away in the medieval walls of Southampton

Employees Retention was 77% across 2023

This little Pig always scores particularly well in Korero’s annual survey, with employees getting the same attention as those working at its big siblings. Over the past year, it has benefited from enhanced employee benefits and wellbeing initiatives. These include round-the-clock access to remote GPs, physiotherapy, lifestyle coaches and unlimited mental health support, which is extended to their partners and children, too.

The HR team has responded quickly to the challenges posed by the cost of living crisis. The newly launched online wellbeing portal provides access to financial benefits, resources and tools to assist with financial management, and teams can schedule consultations with financial advisors, either in-person or virtually.

And to ensure that no-one misses out on any benefits, the HR team holds promotional activities throughout the year, including an autumn round of People Summit Roadshows at every site.

The Employee Net Promotor score at this hotel is 92% against a benchmark of 61% and all respondents believe the “company has a great reputation”, versus a benchmark of 87%. In addition, nearly 96% appreciated the “clear job description and accountability”.

10 Fika Catering

In a nutshell An independent boutique caterer offering bespoke on-site and delivered F&B solutions

Location London

Employees 34 (24 in 2023)

Fika sets out its stall as a caterer that prioritises sustainable practices, the planet and its people’s wellbeing above profit. It’s clear from this employee comment in the Korero survey that is not an empty promise: “Wishing everyone the chance to work for a company like Fika Catering, where values come first. Making a positive impact is the goal [and it’s] more than just a job – it’s a shared journey towards a better world.”

This employer has pulled out all the stops to retain its people and attract the best talent by rolling out a host of benefits for the health and wellbeing of teams. These include health insurance, 50% off gym memberships, free cinema tickets, paid volunteering days and many more.

The proof is in the pudding, with Korero’s Employee Net Promotor score hitting 94% against a benchmark of 83%. In the survey, an impressive 97% of respondents particularly value the fact they work in a “trustworthy and supportive environment” and nearly 93% appreciate that the benefits available are “clear and attractive”.

11 The Ninth

In a nutshell A relaxed neighbourhood restaurant with a Michelin star serving French Mediterranean cuisine

Location Charlotte Street, London

Employees: 26 (2023: 18)

The Ninth has held its place on this list despite facing difficult times after the pandemic. Not least, it was forced to close for eight months due to a fire and didn’t reopen until 2023. Impressively, chef Jun Tanaka and his business partner retained the whole team throughout the closure and even held two training sessions a week across topics ranging from mixology to pig butchery to keep staff engaged.

The partners have also written their own culture document for the restaurant, which has proved invaluable in recruiting team members. In fact, the staff head count increased from 18 in 2023 to 26 this year.

“This culture document includes our vision statement, our values and everything that we do that contributes to creating a positive workplace culture,” says Tanaka. “This document is shared with all our team and also with potential candidates so they can understand our values even before they join us.”

It clearly works, with one member of staff saying: “The company has strong ethics on leading from example and it makes a big difference to the younger chefs.”

Astonishingly, 100% of respondents acknowledged their workplace as a “trustworthy supportive environment” against a benchmark of 83%, with votes for “clear company values” and the rest not far behind.

12 RBH Hospitality Management

In a nutshell A UK-based independent hotel management company with a portfolio of more than 50 hotels, ranging from economy to upper-upscale and luxury. It works with a broad range of hospitality investors and global brands, including Hilton and Ramada

Locations Hotels throughout the UK with head offices in Glasgow and London

Employees 95 (2023: 90)

RBH’s values are evident in its ESG strategy, which outlines the business’s commitment to the environment, its communities and, in particular, its people.

“We strongly believe our people are at the heart of who we are and what we do,” says HR director Martin MacPhail. “Developing a healthy, engaged and high-performing team is paramount, which is why we launched the Tree of Life Health & Wellbeing Programme, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to mental fitness, financial wellbeing, active body, nutrition and socials.”

This initiative has evolved over a number of years, and now has an internal accreditation consisting of three standards – bronze, silver and gold. It has also been implemented across both head offices and all hotels to focus the whole team on health and wellbeing. And such is its success that it has attracted a clutch of industry accolades, including Springboard’s 2023 Health & Wellbeing Initiative Award.

Employee scores on the Korero survey are all in the 90% range, though “respect for work-life balance” takes the lead, with 96% of respondents agreeing and 85% saying: “we do it brilliantly”.

Several comments say the company is: “responsive, supportive and open to listen and respond, with new benefits introduced after being discussed at employee forum”.

Another adds: “RBH has a fantastic culture and is a positive and friendly place to work. Our senior team are approachable and set a great example, leading from the front.”

13 The Grand, York

In a nutshell This 207-bedroom property, part of the Splendid Hospitality Group’s portfolio, is the city’s only five-star hotel. It has an AA rosette restaurant, the Rise, a new fine dining restaurant, Legacy, a cookery school, spa, and meetings and events spaces

Location York

Employees Year-to-date turnover: 26% (2023: 43%)

The HR team supports what it calls the “Grand family” with a number of initiatives that are having a noticeable impact on relieving the cost of living pressures on staff.

To complement Splendid Hospitality’s Company Hardship loan, the hotel recently implemented the Wagestream platform to give employees more control in drawing down their pay. It has also reviewed and enhanced its incentive programme to give employees greater earning potential.

The hotel also offers breakfast for all staff, whether on- or off-duty, and Sue’s Shop was created last year for employees to purchase household goods, such as toilet rolls, pasta, rice and sanitary products, at cost price.

The hotel also won the Hotel of the Year Catey 2022.

And employees themselves seem happy. One says: “I really do enjoy working at the Grand. For such a large business, the team work very well together and it really does feel like a family. I’m proud to work here and would recommend it as a place to work to anyone.”

Another simply says: “I love coming to work.”

Survey respondents also rated the employer between 92% and 94% across the main categories, including “the company cares about its people” and “being part of a team that works well and respects each other”.

14 Aviator Hotel

In a nutshell A four-star, 169-bedroom independent luxury hotel

Location Farnborough, Hampshire.

Employees 215 (turnover for 2023: 25.42%)

To help employees tackle cost of living pressures, all staff have the opportunity to spend a paid day with a hotel chef to learn how to cook simple, healthy dishes from scratch, rather than buy readymade meals or fast food. Staff save money and eat more healthily, and Aviator has also made recipe books available in the canteen.

Another simple initiative introduced a few years ago celebrates the hotel’s multicultural workforce.All team members are encouraged to create menus and cook their own themed dishes in the canteen for colleagues to try. New recruits are made to feel welcome, too, with an induction programme that includes overnight stays and personalised welcome gifts.

What really stands out are Aviator’s employee benefits, which include private healthcare for all and perks such as an extra days’ holiday on an individual’s birthday.

In Korero’s survey, values such as “the company cares about its people” come out strongly, with 93% of respondents agreeing, while 86% acknowledge a culture of “fairness for all”, which few other companies in the survey can boast.

One employee says: “I’ve worked here for few years, and it has been very rewarding. Pay is fair, benefits good. You are treated fairly and there are great development options.”

15 Supercity Aparthotels

In a nutshell A privately owned aparthotel group

Location Six properties in London, Brighton and Manchester

Employees 95 (2023: 84)

Last year marked a significant achievement for this group, when it became an accredited as a Living Wage employer. This underlines management’s ongoing commitment to supporting staff, especially after a challenging few years for its teams and the wider industry.

To coincide with this milestone, management also conducted pay reviews in October to ensure fair compensation for all staff. As a result, employees were given six months of elevated pay rates before the official raises to Living Wage rates were implemented in April.

“This proactive approach has been a consistent practice for the past three years, aimed at providing our team with vital support during the winter months, while also expressing our appreciation for their unwavering dedication,” says HR manager Kathleen Clarke.

This is borne out by the fact some 93% of respondents say they enjoy a “positive and welcoming work environment” and that “our company cares about its people”.

Comments such as: “The leaders really care about the individuals and encourage personal development,” are a common thread in the survey. Indeed, the message from employees to management is: “Just keep doing what you are doing because it goes in the right direction.

16 Season & Taste

In a nutshell An independent hospitality company that operates four restaurants: Bravas, Gambas, Cargo Cantina and Condesa

Location Bristol

Employees 83 (average length of service is 24 months)

The company’s Yu Life programme, which promotes well-being, has landed well with the team. Introduced last year, it offers staff incentives for healthy living, life insurance and round-the-clock medical support. It is complemented by Yu Matter, which supports mental health and empowers staff by offering counselling and legal and financial support.

This employer certainly manages to create an enjoyable working environment for staff, while helping them to develop. In the past year, for instance, it has taken a quarter of its workforce on inspirational trips to Spain and Mexico to learn more about the group’s food and beverage concepts.

Staff retention is high. “Many of us have stayed for years because it feels like a family,” says one employee. Another says: “The owners have created an environment built on mutual respect and trust, allowing us to take control and lead our teams, but give us the confidence to approach them for guidance or support. We all work hard because we know they are giving even more back to us, it’s a pleasure to work for them.”

This is backed up by the Korero survey, with 92% of respondents saying there is a “positive and welcoming work environment”. A high of 95% also appreciate the “respect for work-life balance” of which 80% said the company was “brilliant”, against a benchmark of 45%.

17 Amplify Guest Services

In a nutshell This young business, launched by Amanda Kay in July 2022, provides front of house guest services, from reception and reservations to events and workplace support for mostly business and industry clients

Location London

Employees 50 (up from 15, representing a rise of 70% in the year from February 2023, with 10 more to join by the summer)

It’s not even got two years under its belt, but Amplify has already got it right when it comes to staff satisfaction, garnering notably high scores in the Korero survey, with 100% of respondents saying they get “recognition and thanks for a job well done” and 98.5% acknowledging "the company cares about its people”.

This is underpinned by its supportive leadership team, as one respondent says: “I’ve grown so much with their support and guidance. They are so strong, always positive and have incredible knowledge, which is always insightful and aids our development.”

Kay explains that in a sector that averages an 80% female workforce, Amplify is one of the few employers to double statutory leave for all parents, “because statutory is not good enough and we are a female-led business”.

She also offers 25 days’ holiday as standard for everyone, not just managers.

“Our people cannot work remotely, but we can provide more time off for their rest and wellbeing – so we did,” says Kay.

The company has also reimagined development with an agile learning hub that provides unlimited, ever-evolving courses, masterclasses, team workouts and development programs, accessible any time and anywhere.

The appreciation is tangible. Each contract is given a ‘Love & hugs’ pot that can be dipped into by employees for fun social events, birthday celebrations and to reward good service with Virgin Experience Day vouchers and impromptu surprises.

18 Rosewood London

In a nutshell A five-star hotel with 263 bedrooms and 45 suites in the Rosewood Hotels & Resorts portfolio

Location Holborn, London

Employees 475 (33.5% labour turnover in 2023)

This hotel has made it a mission to understand and respond to the external factors that have changed the mindset of both job applicants and employees in recent years.

Noting that jobseekers now put a greater value on health, wellbeing and work-life balance when choosing an employer, the hotel reviewed the shift pattern for the guest relations team. As a result, the working week has been condensed from five days to four to give people more time to focus on their personal life.

Other wellbeing initiatives include being more flexible around staff requests for days off and providing more robust training through boosting staff numbers on shifts. A knock-on effect is that staff now have more time to devote to guest needs and are better able to handle any last-minute requests or reservations.

As an HR insider at the hotel says: “The positive transition has set a good foundation to champion this change in other areas of the hotel.”

Team members clearly appreciate their workplace, too. “Excellent place to work compared to past roles I’ve had in London,” says one respondent, while another says: “A healthy, fair and great culture has been created.”

This is not empty talk, as the scores show. Eight-eight per cent of respondents agree that it shows “respect for work-life balance”, with 93.66% vouching that the “company cares about its people”.

19 The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences

In a nutshell One of London’s few family-run, five-star hotels, with 164 bedrooms and a two-AA-rosette restaurant

Location Piccadilly, London

Employees 178 (one-year retention of 60%)

This year, the hotel took a fresh approach to singling out individuals for great service within its diverse team by moving from sporadic, formal certificate presentations to a vibrant monthly event that all employees are invited to.

The cornerstone of these gatherings is the Employee of the Month reveal, with a photo display of each nominee to ensure they are recognised and appreciated. The event is also used as a good opportunity to welcome any new starters – again using photos – and there is a collective celebration of all the birthdays that month, complete with cake, as well as a shout-out to all those with long-service anniversaries.

“The decision to introduce our monthly celebrations was driven by a desire to enhance engagement, reinforce a positive workplace culture and strengthen team bonds,” says general manager Joanne Taylor-Stagg. “The results have been incredible.

Team spirit has soared, with employees feeling more valued and interconnected.” Team spirit indeed seems buoyant, with nearly 96% of Korero respondents agreeing the “company cares about its people”. An impressive 88% say there is a “positive and welcoming work environment.”

As another respondent neatly observes: “Nothing to say. I’m happy.”

20 Houston & Hawkes

In a nutshell This independent contract caterer, launched in 2019, was one of the first in its sector to gain B Corp accreditation. It runs coffee bars, cafés, staff restaurants and delis, alongside hospitality and events

Location London and the south-east

Employees 200-plus (employees in February 2023: 142)

While it must have been tough to set up a contract caterer in a post-Covid world, it has also meant founders Simon Houston and David Hawkes were able to weave leading people initiatives into the fabric of the business.

Not least, their decision to become a B Corp business underpins everything, particularly in relation to their teams. B Corp values include fair pay; a pledge to treat everyone with dignity; to provide access to opportunities for less privileged people; to foster innovation, leadership and personal accountability; and to protect and nurture all team members to ensure they learn, contribute and thrive.

In addition, the founders are committed to the Mindful Employer charter. To support positive mental health, they have given their teams free access to Hospitality Action’s Employee Assistance Programme and were the first contract caterer in the UK to be Living Wage Foundation-accredited. They also invest in personal development through, for instance, chef partnerships with Sally Abé and Celia Brooks.

It is an ethos that is reaping rewards. Some 96% of respondents agree “the company has a great reputation” and 93% say “leaders are supportive, positive and inspiring”.

“I love that we are treated with respect and given the freedom to be ourselves and the trust to make the right decisions,” remarks one team member.

21 The Belfry Hotel and Resort

In a nutshell A luxury 300-bedroom hotel and resort set in 550 acres with world-class golf facilities, a spa and multiple meeting and event spaces

Location Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham

Employees 400 contracted employees (an ever-decreasing turnover rate of 47% in 2022, 43% in 2023, and 36% over the last three months)

Retaining talent is a key objective for the Belfry’s HR team who have seen employee absence rates fall from an industry average of 9% to 4%. In addition, the hotel has achieved a healthy 90-day retention rate of 79%.

“Offering a positive working environment, clear career progression paths for all and a generous rewards and benefits scheme ensures the Belfry can retain its valued talent,” explains head of people Kirsten Price.

The onsite people team operates an open-door policy to support employees around career progression, mental wellbeing and safeguarding a positive working environment, and it is this people-centred approach that was key to overcoming the industry-wide talent shortage after Covid.

To grow its existing talent and build a pipeline of future leaders, the hotel introduced the Leadership Excellence and Development Programme, with a cohort of 104 team members. As well as one-on-one mentoring, there is online learning, face-to-face training and practical assignments. Since its launch, 67% of vacancies have been filled by internal promotions, including three into executive-level positions.

The atmosphere is great, too: “Working here makes me feel good about myself. I work within a very supportive team and the culture of the Belfry is very inclusive and kind.”

Indeed, some 90% of respondents on the Korero survey agree they feel “part of a team that works well and supports each other".

22 Oswald's

In a nutshell Opened in 2018 by Robin Birley, this private members’ club has a Mediterranean restaurant, a Latin American restaurant, bar, lounges and a terrace, and a sister club, 5 Hertford Street

Location Mayfair, London

Employees 78 (2023: 76)

General manager Michele Caggianese is one of those general managers who drills down to the detail – from the fine wines and impeccable service offered to Oswald’s guests to the way the team are engaged and cared for.

Human resources director Catherine Bristow points out that Oswald’s has continued to expand the range and variety of its company benefits. In addition, it is now offering the whole team enhanced parental leave to support families, alongside a new workplace nursery salary sacrifice scheme. It has also introduced enhanced employer pension contributions and BUPA dental cover.

A quick look at the comments shows that employees do feel well looked-after. “My workplace supports career progression, offering a variety of courses to enhance skills,” says one.

Another says: “I am currently on a course which enables me to build my knowledge and experience. While working here I have also been promoted and am looking forward to building my career in an environment that continuously supports my development and future.”

Some 95% of respondents to the Korero survey value the “well-defined company purpose” and 93% say the “benefits available are clear and attractive”.

23 The Real Food Cafe

In a nutshell The café, founded by Sarah Heward in 2005 on the site of a derelict former Little Chef, is open from 7.30am-9pm, 361 days a year, serving locals, holidaymakers and outdoor enthusiasts

Location Tyndrum, Stirlingshire

Employees 16.6% turnover last year (an average service of five years in the current team)

Sarah Heward is rightly proud that her business is a real living wage employer as set by the Living Wage Scotland, and it has been for some years now.

“We invest heavily in the development of the team, offering a great place to work, additional training and development and a wage that reflects the real cost of living,” she says. “This has resulted in a high retention rate, with over half having worked with us for at least five years. We believe this sets us above other companies and makes us a leading hospitality company.”

So, what do the team say? An impressive 100% of respondents to the Korero survey agree they are “paid accurately and on time”, while 91% say they work in a “positive and welcoming work environment”.

The comments add further evidence of a good working environment, highlighting there are “chances to step up and learn more. A workplace where you will not get bored, where you are surrounded by a nice team, who support and help each other, good and kind customers, and nice surroundings. A place that is unique and quirky.”

Another says: “We all have the mindset to help each other improve and develop.”

24 Richmond Hill hotel

In a nutshell A privately owned four-star, 144-bedroom hotel with 13 private event spaces, the 144 On The Hill restaurant and 24-hour gym

Location Richmond Hill, Richmond, Surrey

Employees 102 permanent staff (2023 retention score was 68%)

The mantra at this hotel is that work-life balance starts with an enriched work life, and: “This centres around providing a lifestyle and rewards our team deserve,” says HR manager Liva Jones.

Work-life balance initiatives include part-time work, casual contracts that allow students to choose shifts around their studies, four-day working weeks for the front of house team and at-home working for support roles. In addition, rotas are communicated in advance so people can plan their lives and swap shifts.

Financial wellbeing is supported through schemes such as Wagestream, Perkbox, free meals, and more. And last year, in response to the cost of living crisis, the company introduced discounted vouchers and food for employees in need.

To promote mental wellbeing there is an assistance programme that gives each team member at least four free sessions and a wellness platform with online resources. And the hotel has also trained 12 mental health first-aiders.

For the team’s physical wellbeing there is complementary use of the onsite gym, and a cash-back health plan supports optical, dental, physiotherapy and chiropractic services.

The survey results reveal a happy ship, with some 92% saying the company “cares about its people” versus benchmarks of 83% and 82% respectively.

The comments are telling, too. “I love being part of a fun, passionate team that genuinely cares for each other and our customers equally, and feel we are listened to, with no idea being a bad idea,” says one employee.

25 Paris House

In a nutshell A privately owned, three-AA-rosette and Michelin-recommended restaurant with 26 seats offering modern British tasting menus from chef-owner Phil Fanning

Location Set in 22 acres of deer park on the Woburn Estate, Bedfordshire

Employees 20 (2023: 20)

Even before lockdown, the management at Paris House was on a mission to improve work-life balance for the team – many of whom have young families, including two with babies. To this end, hours have been reduced, with staff given two full days and two evenings off every week on consistent, consecutive days. The restaurant also closes for Christmas and New Year.

Now that the cost of living crisis is biting, staff meals have been further improved to ensure employees have a robust and balanced diet through the working week to help with food costs at home.

The gloomy economic climate has also strengthened the management team’s drive to streamline the operation and, in particular, to make the kitchen more efficient so the business can afford to increase salaries. It commissioned HR consultants to undertake a full benchmarking exercise and have repositioned salaries to ensure all members of staff are in the upper end of the benchmarked salary brackets.

This chimes with the fact 100% of respondents say they are “paid accurately and on time”, and the team are in no doubt that they are valued, with nearly 96% saying the “company cares about its people”.

26 Z Hotels

In a nutshell The 2011 opening of Z Soho marked the first hotel in Bev King’s compact luxury hotel concept

Locations There are 14 hotels across London, Liverpool, Glasgow and Bath, with plans to open a new hotel by the end of next year

Employees 276 (turnover rate is 42% for the financial year)

The culture is neatly summed up by one insider: “Our training and reward systems are robust, but the personal touch truly distinguishes our company. Our chief executive[King]’s commitment to knowing each team member by name and understanding their individual aspirations creates a sense of belonging and value. The emphasis on promoting from within ensures that career development isn’t just a perk; it’s a fundamental aspect of our company culture.”

The company’s clear career path through training is certainly one of the biggest benefits for team members at any level, helping them flourish, whether they are operational managers or guest service assistant recruits.

Learning opportunities are open to all and are flagged up on the company’s annual training calendar. They include a new training initiative, InZpiring Service Training, to refresh guest service principles, as well as soft skills, while English courses mean that non-English-speaking recruits get the same opportunities.

There is a sense of steadiness here. One of the top scoring categories in the Korero survey is that it is a “trustworthy and supportive work environment”, with 94.5% agreeing versus a benchmark of 83%. And 65% of those who say, “all individuals are valued” believe the company does it “brilliantly”.

27 The Genuine Dining Co

In a nutshell An independent foodservice company specialising in the business and industry sector, including staff restaurants, coffee and deli bars, and bespoke hospitality offers and events. Part of Group Genuine, it works with more than 60 clients across the UK

Location London-based

Employees 422 (11% turnover)

It says something about a company’s values when the chief executive and business development director take on the Atlantic Challenge to raise money for charity. Chris Mitchell and Robbie Laidlaw’s sponsored row across the Atlantic has already raised £215,000 for Hospitality Action to date, with a push to reach £250,000.

This company thinks of itself as a tight-knit team of foodservice professionals, united in their commitment to crafting innovative teams, concepts and ideas that elevate workplace culture.

Insiders say that everyone works as one team – senior managers and directors will come in and help on counters during service, which sends the important message that they are happy to muck in and help as part of the team.

One employee said: “This company is a gem – all the managers and head office team are genuinely lovely, friendly people, and always looking to support us team members. I love our sustainability and wastage reduction protocols. I’ve never worked in a job where I’m happy to go to work on a Monday morning.”

Some 87% of respondents say their company is a “positive and welcoming work environment”, with 67% of them adding “we’re brilliant” at it.

28 4C Group

In a nutshell This group manages and develops 20 prime properties and hotels, dating back to the 1990s as a family-run property enterprise

Locations Business hubs and leisure destinations in the UK, Middle East, East Africa and Canada

Employees 350 and annual turnover of 42% (April 2022-March 2023: 285 employees and annual turnover of 50%)

It’s known for promoting sustainable practices within the communities where it operates, but this group looks after its employees, too.

After the pandemic, the company conducted an engagement survey to understand and support staff with the challenges they faced. To ensure employee anonymity and receive genuine feedback, the survey was conducted by a third party, People Essentials.The initial Employee Net Promoter Score of 29% was good, but using the feedback the HR team put an action plan in place and were able to enhance this to 35% the following year.

The areas of focus were communication, improved benefits and further training, with initiatives including a company newsletter to highlight employee successes, and an expansion of benefits to include a winter fuel allowance, along with access to Cyclescheme, Techscheme and Wagestream.

People and culture teams were introduced and team suggestions led to the formation of an employee-led football league and a dedicated cohort of mental health first-aiders.

Here’s what one contented team member says: “The people, the atmosphere, the safety and the fair treatment all create an amazing place to work and support a company that cares.”

The “positive and welcoming work environment” gets the highest Korero scores from responders at 91%, but votes for “supportive leaders”, “clear attractive benefits” and more are only slightly behind.

29 HotelREZ Hotels & Resorts

In a nutshell A privately owned, software as a service-enabled representation company, offering technology, distribution, sales and marketing to more than 2,500 independent hotels, apartments and hospitality groups across 100 countries

Location Headquarters in Newark, Nottinghamshire

Employees 42 (turnover is less than 5%)

This company listened to the needs of its team post-pandemic and addressed agile working, enhanced holiday and sickness benefits, and job security. The leaders also took on-board the Newark-based team’s desire to get more involved in the local community and have increased volunteer and community engagement activities.

Lockdown further highlighted the importance of managers being adaptable and treating people as individuals. They have now been equipped through training and resources to support the physical and mental wellbeing of employees by providing them with clear expectations, yet giving them the space to work how they want.

Korero’s survey points to a wholesome company culture, with employee comments including: “The company has enabled me to progress to a level beyond my ambitions and supported me to grow into a senior role while working four days, I really appreciate this.”

Another says: “Mental health and wellness are a high priority, and this shows throughout the close-knit relationships between teams, who go above and beyond to support each other.”

And hard statistics back this up, with 96.5% of respondents agreeing the company “cares about its people” against a benchmark of 82%. They also say they are “part of a team that works well together and supports each other” with 94% agreeing versus a benchmark of 83%.

30 Eden Hotel Collection

In a nutshell The collection launched in 2008 with one property and now comprises five privately owned hotels, rated four- and five-AA-red star. Each restaurant in this small collection, which includes Bovey Castle, holds two to three AA rosettes. The individual properties are members of Pride of Britain Hotels and Relais & Chateaux

Locations Leamington Spa, Kidderminster, Devon, Cheltenham and Stratford-upon-Avon

Employees 525

By anyone’s standards, the improvement in employee retention at this collection is impressive. Vacancy levels have reduced by 62% since the pandemic and the 90-day retention rate has risen to an average of 96.2%. Employee stability is now at its highest, having risen by 28% since 2018.

This is all thanks to the HR team’s launch of a money, mind, body and heart wellbeing ethos. In late 2022, to understand cost of living concerns among employees, Eden conducted a financial wellbeing survey. The results were presented to the team in the form of “you said, we did”, to show the actions taken. Among these, Eden continued its 2022 commitment to a Fair Pay Promise and awarded its third pay review in an 18-month period.

On the “heart” front, it has launched a Happy Hub reward and recognition platform to help “release happy chemicals”, which in the first three months saw some 416 recognition moments celebrated.

No wonder employees feel the “company cares about its people”, with 93% of respondents agreeing.

The comments section is full of praise. “The business has moved forward so far in the past five years, advancing pay, benefits, culture, learning and development, and clarity, moving from an ‘average’ bar to a ‘best in class’,”

Another said: “Massive achievements and changes in attitude and culture has made a vast and positive difference to the employee journey. Recognising that teams and people are the cornerstone of the business is appreciated.”