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Improving the Employee Experience with Different Types of Frontline Workers: Rotana’s Andrew Wolhuter

by Dani Johnson and Stacia Garr | July 12th, 2023

Improving the employee experience starts with data. Rotana’s Andrew Wolhuter understands that and uses Rotana’s qualitative data to retain frontline workers in a competitive market. 

Andrew has an enthusiasm and infectious energy that he not only shares with his coworkers at Rotana, he also shares this excitement with us on today’s episode. Listen in to learn how Andrew is using data to lead the change in the employee experience at Rotana.

Andrew’s experience with Rotana Hotels

Andrew Wolhuter is the Corporate Director of Learning and Development and Talent Management with Rotana Hotels in the UAE. This means that he takes care of the entire employee experience from the moment a new employee starts with the company until the time they leave. Part of his work in developing the onboarding experience is to share the company’s values with new employees. Andrew loves to lift others and drive them to reach their full potential and part of his role is to provide employees with everything they need to grow inside the organization.  

How Rotana handles its frontline workforce

Rotana is the oldest hotel company in the Middle East with a workforce of 10,000. The organization has hotels across the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe & Türkiye. 

Rotana’s white-collar workforce is typically educated and works behind a desk or in corporate offices. The frontliners are typically the operational workforce that deals directly with the customer in some way. 

Frontline workers in the Middle East are unique in they are typically migrant workers. Some of this seasonal migrant workforce comes from the subcontinent, however, others who are looking for more part-time or casual work come from Europe and other locales. 

Balancing these two types of frontline workers is one way that Rotana’s frontline workforce is a bit different from others. Part of Andrew’s role is to balance the cultural nuances between workers of all nationalities. Balancing the type of workers and the type of work they do is all part of developing the Rotana experience. 

While many of the frontline workforce at Rotana is there for temporary service, the company offers growth opportunities for those who are willing to stay. 

How they bring that all together

Creating a company culture can be a challenge with such a rotating staff. One way that they are able to pass on the culture in spite of such a short training period is through pre-shift briefings. Many frontline workers across industries and verticals experience these types of meetings at the beginning of each shift and Andrew emphasizes the importance of utilizing this time as a way to develop the company culture. 

How they make different frontline workforces work

Andrew also stresses the importance of listening and stepping outside your ecosystem. Rotana does this by gathering qualitative data. They ask in-depth questions and create an atmosphere that fosters communication. It’s one thing to gather the data, it is quite another to listen to it and act upon it. Management has to be willing to act once it receives data indicating that a change is needed. 

The way they incorporate change is by developing an action plan with key steps. They hold check-ins at each step of the way through until they reach the goal. This helps hold people accountable but also allows them to see the journey because understanding the process is critical to recognizing whether you are heading in the right direction or whether another change is needed. 

Listen in to hear what Andrew’s challenges have been and the results he has seen. You’ll also hear how the data that he has gathered compares with our data. You can learn more about our data by becoming a RedThread member. 



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