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At a time when 2 of every 3 accommodation businesses see labour issues as a significant business impediment, one hotelier is proving the competitive advantage of a positive corporate culture when it comes to growth and retention.

Today, Accent Inns Inc. was named one of Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures in 2021 by Waterstone Human Capital, a rare recognition for a first-time applicant. A 35-year-old, B.C.-based, family-run business, Accent Inns Inc. operates eight hotels across the province, including the recently opened Hotel Zed in Tofino, B.C. This summer also marked Accent Inns Inc.’s first foray into the restaurant business with the opening of Roar, a 165- seat restaurant and bar located in Hotel Zed Tofino.

According to Waterstone Human Capital, the Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures award for Accent Inns Inc. exemplifies why culture is so important for sustaining businesses.

“My first priority has always been to create a workplace where the most important metric is the happiness of my staff,” said CEO Mandy Farmer, who was also the recipient of the 2020 Excellence Award under the category of the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards. “Having an amazing culture that puts staff first is not just a competitive advantage, it’s critical for business.”

“My philosophy is to lead with love and over the past two years especially, this philosophy has been essential for staff retention, community engagement and overall business,” said Farmer. Leading with love includes reducing and eliminating daily stressors for all staff, providing family scholarships and creating her own “Got Your Back Fund” designed to help employees going through hard times, including covering unexpected childcare costs or reuniting overseas families.

Farmer also has her own happiness index which she surveys regularly. In the summer of 2020 amidst the pandemic, the survey showed over 97 per cent of Accent Inns employees reporting that they were happy. Excluding Hotel Zed Tofino which opened in 2020, 83 per cent of staff have been with the company for over five years.

Despite occupancies originally grinding down during the onset of COVID-19, the hotel industry has proven to be extremely resilient and crucially important to local communities as proven by the need during recent natural disasters, leading to a growing demand for labour. According to Tourism HR’s Employment Tracker, B.C.’s current tourism and hospitality employs around 300,000 workers, a number that is about the same as the employment number in 2020 when travel was discouraged by provincial authorities. In contrast, 2019 saw 350,000 people employed by the sector.

“Our industry takes great pride in witnessing the countless ways that Mandy and the entire Accent Inns team have raised the bar for our global accommodation sector” said Ingrid Jarrett, President and CEO of the British Columbia Hotel Association. “A genuine commitment to hospitality begins with kindness and care towards those we employ, and Mandy’s people-first philosophy illustrates the remarkable impact that investing in the happiness of employees can have.”

Farmer and her team are celebrating their Most Admired Corporate Culture win by celebrating with their hardworking teams across the province.