October 4, 2018
Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants just earned the No. 6 spot on Fortune 100’s Best Companies to Work For list due to their “Culture of Compassion.” This list is based on employee evaluations of their company culture, so Kimpton’s presence on the list for the ninth year begs the question: What makes them special?
According to Mike DeFrino, CEO of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, they are in the business of humanity, not just hospitality. “Kimpton’s special brand of magic is 100 percent attributed to our employees. We don’t believe in strict policies and processes, we believe in people – and our guiding principle is hiring employees for heart and encouraging them to provide warm, intuitive service,” says DeFrino.
Bill Kimpton, the late founder of these beautiful boutique hotels, made it his mission to build a culture of compassion for employees as well as guests. He recognized that genuine leaders care not only for the professional growth of their team members, but their personal growth as well. He instilled these cultural values from the beginning by launching a “self-insight” program for his couple of hundred employees, bringing in a psychologist to educate them on patterns of behavior and meshing personalities in the workplace. These exercises fostered self-awareness and a foundation of trust and understanding that continues to deepen even as the Kimpton team has grown to 67 hotels in 36 cities.
Despite their growing numbers, Michael Depatie, Managing Partner at KHP Capital Partners and former Kimpton CEO, says they never spent time discussing how to compete as the biggest and best hotel chain. Rather, they reflected on “how to improve a guest’s life” and asked one another “How do you make our fellow employee’s day better?” Kimpton Hotels administrators have even been known to send flowers or gift baskets to the families of team members who are working extra hours.
A General Manager in Boston who has worked for Kimpton Hotels for nine years posted on Glassdoor, “I have stuck around not because of the benefits and family atmosphere, but because of how each leader I’ve worked with has invested in me. They’ve allowed me to find my way as a leader and jumped in when I’ve needed support.”
Clearly, team members bought in to Bill Kimpton’s vision for cultivating a culture of compassion in Kimpton Hotels, and his legacy lives on. While we can all agree that culture makes each company unique, there is a lot to be learned from great culture companies like Kimpton Hotels.