5 min read

How RiverWalk Resort Hires and Retains the Best

In March of 2023, the U.S. Travel Association reported that according to Bureau of Labor data, there were 1.7 million leisure and hospitality jobs open. That number was due in large part to the major growth in our industry where jobs have increased by an astounding 105,000! Despite these intimidating metrics, RiverWalk Resort continues to pull in and retain top performers.

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As leisure and hospitality is focused on top-tier experiences, the very best service is essential to success. Our guests and owners choose us because they know coming to our resort means every single team member from those cooking their meals and cleaning their rooms to the smiling faces at the reception desk are dedicated to and invested in that experience.

Over the years, RiverWalk has earned the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award at the ARDA World Conference in 2017, the Eileen Rice Outstanding Business Leader of the Year Award, and more. While our physical imprint with its stunning, sustainable design doesn’t hurt our reputation, the bedrock of our success is rooted in an unparalleled customer experience we simply couldn’t provide without our team. 

That’s why we are incredibly dedicated to the training, development and happiness of our employees. We know that we have some of the most talented hospitality staff in New England and we’ll never take that for granted. 

In this article, we’ll share insights from Renee Blood, General Manager, Amy Whitaker, Assistant General Manager and Will Harding, CHFE, Chief Facilities Manager on how we’ve found and kept our team members as well as what we look for in new ones. 

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Finding and Hiring the Best

So how do we manage to find and hire our top performers?

Look for Enthusiasm

At RiverWalk, we want people to love their jobs, so hiring for attitude reigns supreme. 

“For each department, we are looking for team players who are guest service-minded. We strive for extraordinary at RiverWalk and we look for the same in our team members. Experience is great, but what is more important is a person’s enthusiasm for what we do and how they can contribute to that and their willingness to learn and be part of a team,” said Amy.

Be Flexible

Since the pandemic, RiverWalk has noticed an increase in the time-to-hire and that there have been fewer applicants for posted roles, but it’s not all negative. There are also a lot of people stepping into the industry that haven’t been a part of it before, and our team is willing to do the work to find new gems. 

“We are customer service at its core. There are a lot of transferable skills from other occupations, and we are willing to work with people who possess the qualities we are looking for,” said Amy. 

Offer Growth Opportunities

Our team is adamant that hard work should pay off. That’s why it pays to join us. 

“There are several career paths an employee can set goals for in the hospitality sector such as lead, supervisor, or management positions within the several teams at Riverwalk such as Housekeeping, Engineering, Front Desk, Common Area Cleaning and Custodial to name a few. A housekeeper can excel and transition into a position that trains others or into an inspector position, a supervisory position and even into an Assistant Manager position. All of those roles are obtainable with a good work ethic, the desire to excel and the interest in achieving personal growth goals.”

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Keeping Talent

Leisure and hospitality on the whole doesn’t have a reputation for long-standing employees. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median tenure is just two years, but at RiverWalk, it’s much stronger. 

“RiverWalk opened in June of 2016 and about 10% of our current staff was here on opening day. A good number of others came on board not too long after. We have a great foundation of employees who have been with RiverWalk for over five years and pride ourselves on the work family we’ve created,” said Amy. 

Here are some of the main ways we get our best people to stay (and stay happy!) 

Build Intentional Programs for Success

Among other incentives and benefits, RiverWalk has created a Back to Basics (B2B) program that encourages their team members to work toward a common goal. 

“We believe that following 12 basics will allow RiverWalk to enjoy excellent reviews, meet revenue goals and work within our budget. We firmly believe that every employee from the front line to the executive team is responsible for working together to achieve these goals,” said Amy.  

The 12 steps are:

  • Work Together
  • Do Your Job
  • Ask for Help
  • Communicate
  • Lend a helping hand
  • Be punctual and look professional
  • Follow the rules
  • Use your resources
  • Trust the process
  • Be organized
  • Be considerate
  • Unplug

Show Appreciation

At RiverWalk, we foster employee appreciation frequently. For example we: 

  • Have a robust employee of the month and year program  
  • Host employee barbeques in the summer
  • Hold a holiday luncheon in December
  • Provide turkeys for Thanksgiving
  • Offer hams for Christmas
  • Give employees pool and ice skating passes 
  • Recognize employee birthdays and work anniversaries

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Say “Thank you” Often

It may sound like a small thing, but we make it a point to thank our team members for their contributions. 

“Riverwalk has several means to which it demonstrates appreciation to its employees. Starting with simply telling an employee ‘thank you’ or ‘your hard work is appreciated!’. Our managers and executive staff do this often. Showing simple recognition of an employee’s dedication and hard work really does go a long way,” said Will. 

Promote from Within

There’s nothing that feels better than promoting hard workers, so we do so anytime we can!

“We love to promote from within whenever possible! We are firm believers in having the right people in the right places – in that regard, there are so many possibilities. Someone could start in housekeeping and show an amazing aptitude for customer service and could find themselves in a Front Desk position and work on moving up to Senior FD associate, supervisor, assistant manager, etc. Anyone coming into any position at RiverWalk can enjoy growth within that position with opportunities to advance,” said Amy.

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So you want to join the team? 

We really enjoy adding to our team.  

"We love welcoming new people onto our team. It's a warm group and we hope our new team members always feel that as we strive to create an inviting, rewarding and collaborative place to work. Our daily goal is to have a little fun while at the same time focusing on placing the right people in the right positions to ensure future success for all. Although this may not happen overnight, it’s always our goal as we view working at RiverWalk as more than just another job. It’s a place where the team is like family with lots of opportunities for all,” said Renee.

If you’d like to improve your chances of being hired, we have some advice. 

Be Authentic 

“Be authentic. It’s important to be on time for any interviews and show enthusiasm for the job for which you are applying. Letting us know what you can “bring to the table” and being able to demonstrate that through examples is great! We appreciate a good work history; some experience is great – but we are always willing to train the right person. Flexibility with scheduling is a great way to get a ‘foot in the door,’” said Will.  

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Lean Into Your Soft Skills

For those who are worried about attempting a career pivot, RiverWalk welcomes your varied skills. 

Will and the team consider certain soft skills very valuable. He said, “Some of the core values and qualities Riverwalk looks for in candidates are what make up some of the most sought after soft skills employers are searching for great in candidates, especially since the pandemic.”

Riverwalk looks for all of the following in potential hires: 

  • Good listening skills
  • The ability to follow directions
  • Strong time management capabilities
  • A willingness to collaborate
  • Adaptability 
  • A growth mindset 
  • Leadership skills
  • Creative problem-solving skills 

Be Prepared 

When it comes right down to it, while some roles require specific experience, all of our roles necessitate preparedness. 

“Make sure the resume being submitted has current employment information and references. The more information the candidate submits that confirms their experience the better. If interviewed for a position, the candidate should be themselves, be honest and be ready to answer specific questions relating to the position they are applying for. This will assist us in determining and confirming the candidate has the experience they have indicated on their resume,” said Will.

In a past article, Renee called out that happy employees = happy guests alongside three items she does to keep employees happy.  

  1. Pay them well
  2. Praise them emphatically and often
  3. Promote them personally and professionally

RiverWalk does all of these things and more. If you are looking for a professional challenge where you are truly valued, we’d love to meet you.

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