Empowering Multi-Dimensional People in Hospitality

with Joanna Dodaro Johansen, Head of People Experience, citizenM hotels

Together with

Good morning. Today, we're learning from Joanna Dodaro Johansen, Head of People Experience for citizenM hotels in the US, about how they create memorable experiences for their team members - starting with recruiting and hiring through to daily things they do to encourage a culture that celebrates the individuality of each person and inspires everyone to live out the company's brand promise and values.

Whether or not you're working at a place like citizenM today, I think you'll be as inspired as I was to think carefully (and differently) about what your employee experience looks like....since that plays such a big role in your guest experience and the success of your hospitality business.

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Empowering Multi-Dimensional People in Hospitality

with Joanna Dodaro Johansen, Head of People Experience, citizenM hotels

Joanna Dodaro Johansen

CitizenM hotels has emerged as one of the most innovative hotel brands in the world - but what sets them apart? Today, Joanna Dodaro Johansen, Head of People Experience for citizenM in the US, sheds light on how the brand creates a unique and memorable experience for its team members.

My role is to create a people experience that everyone remembers. CitizenM has a really strong culture and values. It's the people that deliver them and create that environment where you can see them and you can feel them.

Joanna Dodaro Johansen

From recruitment to their daily operating cadence, citizenM celebrates individuality and fosters a culture that inspires its employees (aka “citizens”) to live out the company's brand promise and values.

Building a Strong People Experience

At citizenM, their “people experience” is at the core of their operations. Joanna emphasized the importance of creating an environment where employees can enjoy their work and find value for themselves and their careers.

Embracing Individuality

One of the key aspects that sets citizenM apart is its emphasis on celebrating individuality. Joanna highlights that the brand looks for people who genuinely enjoy interacting with others.

They believe that anyone can be an ambassador for their hotels, regardless of their background or education. By empowering employees to be themselves and encouraging them to be warm and welcoming, citizenM creates a memorable experience for its guests.

The Role of People in the citizenM Brand

While citizenM is known for its technology-forward approach, Joanna emphasizes that people are at the heart of the brand. The technology is there to support team members in providing exceptional guest experiences. By streamlining mundane tasks through automation, employees have more time to connect with guests and create memorable moments.

The company’s focus on encouraging "RAOKs” (random acts of kindness) further enhances the guest experience, as team members are empowered to go above and beyond to make guests feel special.

Recruitment and Partnerships

CitizenM takes a unique approach to recruitment by partnering with local organizations that source candidates from diverse pools. For example, in Seattle, they partnered with Weld Works, an organization that helps previously incarcerated individuals find employment.

It’s a goal of ours to find different initiatives like this in the different cities we operate in.

Communicating the Opportunity

Communicating the opportunity of working at a hotel can be challenging, especially in cities like Seattle, where citizenM is still establishing itself.

However, Joanna and her teams emphasize the unique career trajectory working in hospitality offers, especially when done at their company. CitizenM employees can work across different capacities within the hotel in the same job, accelerating growth and development. By highlighting the variety of experiences and the chance to make a real impact, CitizenM attracts individuals who are looking for more than just a job.

What we figured out with all of our advertisements what was resonating is the actual stories from our actual people, who started as ambassadors (our front-line team) and progressed to hotel managers.

We train on everything. You never have a dull or boring day. You're not in just one position all the time. So being able to say that in an advertisement is one thing - and then having someone that has lived so many different lives at citizenM has been really, really impactful.

Empowering Employees

CitizenM empowers its employees to make decisions that enhance the guest experience. By encouraging team members to invest in random acts of kindness, they can surprise and delight guests, creating lasting memories. The brand encourages people to be themselves, allowing them to express their individuality through their appearance and personality.

CitizenM is redefining the people experience in hospitality. By celebrating individuality, empowering employees, and leveraging technology to enhance employee experience, the brand creates a memorable experience for guests and team members. Through strategic recruitment partnerships and effective communication, citizenM is attracting passionate people who are committed to delivering exceptional service. As all of us in hospitality work to improve our employee and guest experiences, we can all learn something from citizenM's thoughtful approach.

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