Thalias Hospitality

Courtesy of the CRA and Julie Thai

How to be a First-Class Employer

Being the best employer you can be is more than an exercise in feeling good. It’s a key element in attracting the best talents and putting dynamite into your sales figures…

The Cambodia Restaurant Association was created to develop, improve and bring innovation to Cambodia’s restaurant industry. A large part of that mission lies in education, whether it be updates on government regulations, help navigating financial and tax rules, or guidance on IT, marketing, or supply chain management. Last month, it was time for the teams who deal with Human Resources to step up to the podium as they delivered a workshop on what it means to be a first class employer, and how to achieve it.

The workshop was chaired by Thalias’ own HR Director, Mr. Yok Settha, who led a panel made up of consultants, industry members and training institutes. They addressed why it pays to be a first-class employer, the different elements involved, the legal framework and exactly what employees are looking for today in their relationship with their employer and employment (spoiler alert: a pay cheque is only part of the equation, and often not even the priority). Indeed, since COVID, many employees are now more concerned about achieving a better work-life balance and flexible working arrangements*.

Courtesy of the CRA and Julie Thai

One of the speakers was Julie Thai from b.Consulting Cambodia, a Phnom Penh-based consultancy for hospitality providers across Cambodia. Julie has more than 20 years of running successful restaurants at every level behind her, and one of her main focuses today is on training staff to improve quality service and production, reduce staff turnover and maximise productivity. We asked her a couple of questions after the workshop to offer some additional guidance on the practicalities around becoming a First-Class Employer.

In particular, we wondered how an employer can go about defining a budget for investing into their employees’ skills. Acknowledging that the hospitality industry can sometimes fall behind other sectors in terms of their investment in staff training, Julie pointed out that skills development costs are a strategic move for any company, similar to a marketing budget. She noted though that expenses related to training budget should always be justified by answers to simple questions such as “how much will it cost, why should I spend this amount, how am I going to spend it, what will be the benefit for my company and my clients?”.

Pat Dany (left) and Julie Thai (left)

In terms of how to achieve that, she suggests setting aside a small percentage, say 1-2%, of the annual HR budget for development and implementation of a staff training programme. She added, “As it may have an impact on profit, business owners have to identify their training priorities. Some for instance will target customer service to develop their sales and revenue, other will choose to allocate training costs on leading abilities for the middle management to increase employee retention rate”.

But there are plenty of impactful steps any employer who wants to be a good employer can take even before they commit to a budget and programme. And this is not just to the benefit of employees, but of the employer too. Julie suggests, “determining the right tasks and feasible goals, appointing the right person to it, giving enough time to complete the job, offering support whenever employees encounter professional or personal issues are clearly the basics. As an employer, the very first thing for business owners to ask themselves is whether they provide a good environment workplace and all tools for their team to succeed in their job. For example, doing an annual interview with each employee is a good moment to review their job description, listen to their input and difficulties and set the path for the following year”.

Of course, not every company can approach this issue from the same perspective. In particular, differences in size, from small companies right up to global brands, will of course have differences in their Human Resources structures and resources. But SMEs can still create attractive salary offers, perhaps with profit shares or other incentives. And of course, they have one advantage larger companies simply can’t afford, which is that due to their size, they’re able to offer a more personal style of leadership, while being more responsive and easier to reach out to.

In addition to Julie and Settha, this panel was delivered by H.E. Chhay Khunlong, Director General of the Vocational School of Tourism, Thai Chharat, the Vice-Dean of the Hospitality Faculty, and Pat Dany, the Human Resources Manager for the Dara Group of hotels.

To find out more about future Cambodia Restaurant Association panels and workshops, which are open to members and non-members, or to look into the benefits of membership, check out their website here:

For more information, have a look on the Linkedin Report in the following link:

LinkedIn 2022 Workplace Learning Report

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