AI and employee wellness are top of mind for 2022 CHRO Award nominee, John Skelton


John says the group will introduce AI as part of its larger recruitment strategy.

John Skelton, chief people officer for The Capital Hotel and Apartments, says 2023 is the year to focus on using Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a part of their employee experience.

The Capital Hotels and Apartments is one of the country’s fastest growing hotel groups in the country, having almost tripled its staff in the last six years.

John, who was one of the 2022 CHRO Awards nominees, adds that CHROs will need to understand the potential and power of technology more: “As leaders we need to learn to leverage the use of data to improve the employee experience.”

Due to the nature of the business of the hotel group, John says, “With an employ of more than 1,000 staff members, our main goal for this year is to introduce AI – not just for employee experience, but also as part of our bigger recruitment strategy and to build a robust retention strategy in the business.”

The company has so far introduced a new employee self-service system, called Roubler, which uses a custom app to handle staff shifts, payslips, policies, and leave. It is accessible anytime, anywhere. According to John the direct result of this initiative is an office with a 2% attrition rate and morale that is through the roof.

“Our business is built around people. There is no hospitality without people. We try to stay relevant with staff needs. At the centre of your strategy must be the staff needs. Work on feedback loops to understand what is needed on the ground. One also needs to develop smart partnerships with experts. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel: let the specialists or individuals with experience work with you and collaborate with partners.”

A secondary focus for the group this year, says John, is to put more emphasis on employee wellness. “As confidence returns in the hospitality industry it’s going to be a year of focus and growth for staff. So far training has gone into hyperdrive as we invested in staff and started building their careers to meet the growth requirements.”

John adds that a firm belief in their business is that wellness starts with the workplace and is extended to the family home and if that is looked after, the rest becomes seamless. “We want to empower staff and enable them to live their best life according to the stage of life they are in and do our best to ensure that happens. Others may call it disruptive; we just call it giving a damn.”

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