Strategies to attract and retain top talent

Future-proof your business

By Leslie T. Snadowsky + Photos Courtesy of Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort

Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort is in the heart of Hilton Head Island and offers vacationers and residents three miles of sun-kissed Atlantic Ocean beachfront, three world-class golf courses, vacation rentals, a full-service marina and an 11-mile lagoon system. At Palmetto Dunes even the employees get to enjoy golf, tennis, pickleball, bike rentals and kayaking amenities. These are just some of the perks the resort offers its workforce to stay competitive and retain quality personnel.

“I feel like our company culture is one of our biggest attractions,” said Abbey Hightower, vice president and corporate director of human resources at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort. “Our culture reflects a sense of fun, and the beautiful environment in which we work makes it enjoyable to come to work every day.”

HR and R&R

Hightower acknowledges that HR departments like hers have had to adapt to the evolving workplace. She said she uses innovative strategies to attract, engage and retain talent in an era when many workers want to work from home.

“As a hospitality-driven company where our noble purpose is to ‘care about our guests and the impact we make on their lives,’ it does make it hard to have fully remote workers,” she said. “We have looked inward to ensure our employees are happy by creating more opportunities for them to grow, staying up to date with market trends regarding compensation and promoting a good work-life balance schedule.”

Hightower said managers stay flexible and focus on the employees’ well-being, whether that means bringing on new technologies to help them become more efficient in their roles, giving time off when employees are going through a hard time in their personal lives, and prioritizing the training of new skills and techniques.

“To be successful with the rapid changes, we keep up with the trends and embrace what needs to be done,” she said. “It’s one of the great things about working with a family-owned company. We have a lot of flexibility to try new things.”

Stay and play

At Palmetto Dunes Hightower said they are not just looking for someone to do a job. They are looking for employees to become part of the family and stay a while.

“Now, more than ever, employers are experiencing a lot of no-shows to job interviews,” she said. “We have had to be more creative in our job postings and more strategic with our marketing dollars on recruiting sites. However, there is a lot of tenure here at Palmetto Dunes Resort throughout all departments, which helps us recruit great workers who are looking for the same type of longevity.”

She said some employees have worked at the resort for more than 40 years, and some in leadership roles have been in place for nearly 20. Hightower said it speaks volumes to the quality employment benefits Palmetto Dunes offers its team.

“When people come to work with us, they want to stay in the family for a long time,” she said. “We care just as much about the impact on our employees’ lives as we do our guests.”

Mi casa, su casa

Palmetto Dunes creates opportunities for its employees to get together and connect. Events include an appreciation luncheon, a wellness fair, a golf event and a holiday party. Other benefits include employee discounts on food and beverage, accommodations and merchandise. “We believe that if our employees love to play and dine here just as much as they love to work here, our guests will benefit from that as well,” Hightower said.

The resort also started an employee emergency-assistance program in 2021 where funds are set aside to provide emergency assistance to employees experiencing extreme economic hardship due to issues beyond their control.

Hightower said Palmetto Dunes’ employees are customer-service minded and really care about what they do and whom they do it for. She said they strive to create memorable experiences for the resort’s guests.

“The employees look forward to seeing families who visit Palmetto Dunes Resort year after year,” she said. “It’s their special place. We challenge our employees to think about what places are special to them and empower them to duplicate that feeling for our guests. Creating fans for life is what we do best, inside and out.”

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