In an innovative move, Newmark Hotels has developed a communication-based app, Smart Staff, to prioritise its employees’ safety and well-being.

Earlier this week, Newmark Hotels announced that it had begun implementing the use of ‘Smart Staff’, an app designed to keep its staff safe across the properties it manages. These include several “luxury hotels, residences, reserves and lodges in Africa”.

“Whilst it is accepted that the customer is king, we are nothing without our staff members. The employees of any business are its most valuable asset – they are the soul of the business,” says Kate Zaaiman, human resources director at Newmark.

Dining at the Serengeti Sojourn in Tanzania

How Smart Staff is differentiated

At the beginning of the hard lockdown, Newmark went into crisis management mode, explains Kate, with one of its key areas of focus on supporting its team. When Newmark realised the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic was going to be a longer-term challenge, it developed Smart Staff, a custom-built, WhatsApp-based app. The app allows Newmark to stay in touch with each member of its team, wherever they are, in addition to also providing training material.

“With this app, we can check in on the staff members and see how they are doing. The app also has a ‘help’ function that allows employees who are experiencing any problems to send a direct message to myself requesting assistance, and I personally call them back to see how we can help,” notes Kate. 

Smart Staff is also intended to be engaging and incorporates gamification where players can win prizes, in addition to a reality TV element with videos shared by Newmark’s team members.

“It is here where we also share our teams’ successes and wins. Smart Staff builds morale and allows our staff – no matter where they are based, whether it is in a bush lodge or city hotel – to feel like they are part of something bigger; that they belong to a community,” says Kate.

The Stock Exchange Hotel in Cape Town, South Africa

Reasons to Smile

As part of its ongoing endeavours to boost morale during this time, each Friday, Newmark Hotels sends out feel-good stories through the Smart Staff app. These are typically about its staff members’ or a positive development from one of its hotels, or any other good news that gives Newmark’s employees Reasons to Smile.

“The internal culture of any organisation is key to the long-term success of that business and at Newmark, we are committed to innovating wherever necessary to nurture our employees through this current crisis and in the future,” Kate concludes.

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