Small workplace | No. 2: Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore

Special to The Baltimore Sun

Guests aren’t the only ones who feel comfortable at the Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Baltimore. The same could be said of the hotel’s 113 employees.

The hospitality industry tends to have considerable turnover — more than 70 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At this luxurious hotel that overlooks the Inner Harbor, the number is about half that.

“My job is easy,” said Noreen Hiltz, the hotel’s director of human resources. “We have a general manager who feels that the things we do for our employees is a good return on the investment.”

That includes the standard benefits, plus free meals, seasonal parties, supermarket gift cards for Thanksgiving, and up to $3,000 in tuition assistance.

The Royal Sonesta Harbor Court doesn’t have the typical employee-of-the-month awards. Instead, the “General Managers Club” is voted on by the entire staff, with the top 20 percent from each department earning an invite to a biannual celebration.

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Recognition goes beyond that. Managers are required to know their employees on a personal level, to learn about their lives, their health, their hobbies.

“Eventually it just becomes second nature and people become family,” Hiltz said.

The transparency goes in the other direction as well. The hotel management holds monthly employee business rallies where they celebrate victories, discuss trends and explain decisions.

“I feel incredibly encouraged and supported,” said Jonathan Knox, a concierge who has worked at the hotel for six years. “This is my first hotel experience. If I were ever to go someplace else, it would be hard for them to top what I’ve experienced here.”

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