Chelsea Hotel's Aspiring Hotelier Shalin Parikh

TORONTO — He raised participation in the employee engagement survey from 48 to 98%, delivered Silver Certification from EarthCheck, and is now the hotel's Health & Wellness Manager.

Shalin at the HAC Awards of Excellence Ceremony.

Shalin at the HAC Awards of Excellence Ceremony.

TORONTO — He raised the participation level in the employee engagement survey from 48 per cent to 98 per cent, delivered Silver Certification from EarthCheck in Year One, and now Chelsea Toronto's Shalin Parikh is turning his attention to employee well-being as the property's Health & Wellness manager.

Shalin was the first winner of the Hotel Association of Canada's Aspiring Hotelier of the Year and received his award at the recent HAC conference, held at Delta by Marriott Hotel Toronto Airport and Conference Centre. 

The survey

The hotel's employee engagement survey used to attract responses from less than half of its 600 full-time employees, but a few simple changes championed by Shalin raised that tally to almost total participation. First, they started to schedule times for employees to fill out the survey, rather than relying on people to make their way to the room where the surveys were done, only to find out that all the computers were busy. They added coffee, tea and big cookies to the room, and had members of the management team offer support to employees who had questions or language problems with the survey. 

“There was a good mix of management team and employees,” Shalin told CLN. “People loved it. It created engagement and excitement. We had senior management come and welcome participants and thank them for their contribution.” The survey was available in traditional Chinese and Cantonese, as well as English.

Shalin on the red carpet at the Awards Ceremony.

Shalin on the red carpet at the Awards Ceremony.

EarthCheck certification

Based in Australia, EarthCheck is a leading scientific benchmarking certification and advisory group for the travel and tourism industry. Langham Hospitality Group, Chelsea Toronto's parent company, is committed to EarthCheck, with 14 of its 20 hotels boasting EarthCheck gold or silver status, and one, the Cordis Auckland, has EarthCheck platinum certification. While not as well known in Canada as our home-grown GreenKey program, EarthCheck audits are well-respected worldwide and “quite intense,” said Shalin. This year, Shalin managed the company's environmental audit, achieving silver certification from EarthCheck in the hotel's first year with the program.

The audit covers everything from what the hotel does with leftover paint to the its percentage of recycled materials. “We used to have 60 per cent go to landfill, but it's down significantly,” Shalin said.

Corporate health challenge

Shalin was promoted to the position of Health & Wellness manager for the 1,594-room hotel a year ago. One of the initiatives he spearheaded was Wellness Month, a corporate health challenge that employed the Vistance phone app. The app has five pillars that practically anyone can incorporate into their daily lives: eat a balanced diet, drink more water, exercise regularly, reduce stress and get enough rest. The competition was not just confined to the hotel; 15 companies across the GTA competed. “We came second or third out of the 15,” Shalin said, adding that the winner was a construction company.

The challenge attracted 100 participants, ranging from Josef Ebner, the hotel's RVP and managing director, to room attendants. People shared recipes for healthy food, and talked to each other about adopting a healthy lifestyle. “People missed it when the challenge was over,” said Shalin.

The Hotel Association of Canada Hall of Fame Awards of Excellence recognize members who demonstrate significant accomplishments and represent some of the finest examples of professionalism, quality and excellence in the industry.  The Aspiring Hotelier award is new this year.