HousekeepingManagementNewsNews In Brief

Leonie Looser creates community within her team

The Executive Housekeeper at Hilton Sydney believes enhancing team morale & creating community is key to reducing staff turnover

After getting her start in cooking and food service, Leonie Looser eventually found her home in the housekeeping department.

“I completed a hotel and catering management course, which took me four years here in Sydney,” Ms Looser said.

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“From there, I did some jobs with the nationwide food service where I was cooking. And then I found out that Hilton Sydney was opening. I joined the pre-opening team in the restaurant and then after about 18 months, decided to look for another department. I immediately thought of housekeeping because of the diversity of the role.”

Taking on a job at the luxury Hilton Sydney was worlds apart from Ms Looser’s rural upbringing.

“I grew up in a tiny town just outside of Goondiwindi near the Queensland border,” she said. It’s a real ‘crops, cattle, and sheep’ area, and it was a great childhood, but it’s been quite a change of scenery!”

After working as a housekeeping supervisor at Hilton Sydney for three years, Ms Looser headed overseas to travel and work throughout Europe.

“I worked in Greece, helping to open a small hotel for the Greek National Tourist Board. And then I worked at the Kensington Hilton in London, again in housekeeping” she said.

“After that, I went to the south of France to try my luck learning French! I worked as an au pair with a French family just outside of Monaco. They were really lovely, and I was able to travel with their family too.”

Returning to Australia, Ms Looser eventually found herself back at the Hilton Sydney where she has worked ever since.

Hilton Sydney

“Hilton has always been in my blood, ” she said.

“It was my training ground, both through food and beverage and then housekeeping.

“They provided opportunities through training courses. I like the guiding principles, I like the department and I like the diversity of our team.”

Working as the manager of a large team, Ms Looser said that boosting staff morale and creating a positive workplace culture was her biggest focus.

At Hilton, Ms Looser and her assistant manager are employed by the hotel, and their team is hired through an external company. However, Ms Looser said in her eyes they are one team and she made sure that this was reflected to staff.

“We don’t differentiate whatsoever. If you start to differentiate, that’s when you start to run into problems,” she said. So, the staff, they’re included in everything at Hilton.”

Additionally, Ms Looser creates opportunities for the housekeeping team to celebrate their achievements and socialise as a team.

“We make sure we celebrate ‘Housekeeping Week’ and host other little celebrations throughout the year, usually with a morning or afternoon tea. We do ‘Employee of the Month’ awards so that people feel their work is valued. We all want to be recognised and acknowledged, and it’s just a nice way to do it. And there’s nothing like a slice of beautiful cake too!”

Like all facets of hospitality, staff shortages during COVID-19 were a significant issue for the Hilton housekeeping team.

However, Ms Looser believes that her commitment to enhancing team morale by creating a sense of community was key to reducing staff turnover.

“It’s started to settle down now, the staff have made friendships and got to know each other, so there becomes a social component to work,” she said.

“We have great supervisors here that embrace the team, so they feel as though they are part of the Hilton family. And from that, we’ve had an easier time this year, it’s made a real difference in maintaining staffing levels.”

Despite working in housekeeping for 25 years, Ms Looser said the job still challenged and excited her.

“There’s a real diversity of tasks every day because we are heavily administrative as well,” she said.

“There’s a lot of training programs that we’ve set up and established, there’s ordering to be done, and lots of daily communication with our teams and supervisors.”

AN31-1-Events-Hilton_Sydney_exterior
Hilton Sydney

With nearly three decades of experience working in hospitality, Ms Looser said the industry had seen significant changes, but that responding to the needs of the modern-day guest kept the role interesting.

“Nowadays there’s a lot of emphasis on sourcing sustainable products and also recycling,” she said.

For example, the hotel is installing coffee machines in about 600 rooms, and they will also include coffee capsule recycling bins. They are also looking at their bulk guest amenities, to see what changes can be made to increase sustainability.

“It’s something that guests are really looking for now, so we’re responding to that.”

The high expectations of Hilton Sydney guests were another aspect of the role that Ms Looser said helped her remain passionate.

She said: “Hilton guests have very strong expectations from the brand. Many use the Hilton brand globally and if we fall short in any way, they let us know.

“So, my team aims to please, and maintain that high standard that guests have come to expect.”

And while working at the Hilton Sydney has given Ms Looser an appreciation for high-quality service and hospitality, when it comes to her travels- it’s all about quality time with family.

“My husband is Swiss-German, so I love going back to Switzerland to see family,” she said.

“Of course, the scenery is beautiful there and it also gives me an opportunity to practice my French!”

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