TRUNK(HOTEL) has no manual. The independent actions and free ideas of the staff who work here make this hotel truly unique. So, how can TRUNK(HOTEL) staff work flexibly and achieve personal growth? TRUNK President Yoshitaka Nojiri, and HR Director Yasuhide Ichikawa, who was involved in creating the concept of TRUNK (HOTEL) before its opening, talk about their recruitment and human resource development.

It’s not about "high overall average," but "prominent individuality

One of TRUNK(HOTEL)’s unique strategies is its recruitment process. We have great respect for diversity—that is to respect various capabilities. In the hospitality industry in Japan, the manual is generally the most important, and businesses usually need a person with high average abilities to follow its rules. Therefore, average all-rounders tend to be hired instead of someone with an outstanding ability.

On the other hand, TRUNK puts emphasis on individuality. Candidates with poor abilities in specific areas can be hired as long as they show outstanding special abilities with more than average competencies on the whole. One absolute criterion we rely on is whether the person shares our values. We hire people with what we call core values: originality, innovation, sincerity, and contribution.

We understand that individual job-related abilities and skills vary. Even if they cannot do everything at an average level, we will turn a blind eye to certain shortcomings or weaknesses as long as they share our values. That way of thinking is truly unique to TRUNK.

The TRUNK(HOTEL)-ness lies in our diverse members.

If a workplace is based on manuals, employees’ abilities and even appearance should be equalized. But in a workplace without a manual, the diversity of employees will lead to a wider range of flexible expressions and behavior as well as mutual complement.

At TRUNK, dyed hair, and even visible tattoos are acceptable. By gathering up unique people with rare abilities, we are able to show our unique brilliance. This is the strength of TRUNK(HOTEL) and an important factor to realize a service that we only can provide.

Infographic on TRUNK members (from TRUNK Co., Ltd RECRUIT SITE:THIS IS TRUNK)

Staff members working at TRUNK(HOTEL) have strong individuality. So, what are the actual recruitment process and staff capacity development process like? Ichikawa explains as follows:

Recruitment criteria: whether we can share our core values.

As Nojiri said, our four core values—originality, innovation, sincerity, and contribution—embody the values upheld by TRUNK(HOTEL). These values also represent our recruitment criteria. If the core values of each staff member can be quantified, such figures may vary from person to person. Different people should have different fortes and shortcomings. But anyway, our recruitment process is based on the philosophy that all our employees must share the same core values.

The keywords to human resource development: “ownership” and “creativity.”

It is no doubt strategically crucial to stick to our philosophy, which consists of visions, missions, and the four core values. Added to these are “ownership,” which aims to exert members’ spontaneity and independence, and “creativity” that creates something from scratch, or fosters innovation. We uphold these two concepts as “actions.” We are making various efforts to spread these factors.

"Human Resources Caravan" to make the staff members think about the two actions.

One of these efforts is an event called “Human Resources Caravan.” For example, we ask our staff members about the reason why we have no standards or manuals. After they answer such questions, we then explain to them that it is because we expect them to show ownership, or that we should need creativity, instead of doing what is already there, to develop a new market. In this way, we create an opportunity for everyone to think about the two actions. We further encourage them to have time to think about these actions when the entire team meets up. As Nojiri repeatedly tells the credo “The company belongs to the staff, and must be built by them.” to the staff members, we make conscious efforts to instill our values to foster the company climate little by little.

To instill the awareness that the "company belongs to every employee."

As we say that the company belongs to the staff, we need a place where they can freely express their opinions. So, we have set up “Everyone’s company project,” where any staff members can join, share and discuss the personnel system, what kind of company they want to build up, and what they should do to make that ideal company.We use LINE WORKS, a convenient communication tool that allows even new employees to directly express their opinions to the president to create a situation where all staff members including part-timers are connected.

From president to part-timers. What communication on an equal footing will bring.

There are no rules about how they should use LINE WORKS. Nojiri sends messages to the staff in the form of President’s diary, or staff members who happen to find issues in the hotel send messages like “this area is dirty,” or “this is broken.” When such reports are raised, some members in other departments will reply that they will take care of it, and the issues will be quickly settled.

When the floral team responsible for decorating the lounge and restaurants sends information about “today’s flowers” with photos and stories behind them, other staff members are able to quickly answer customers’ questions. Even Nojiri actively and positively responds to these posts. In addition to sharing business information, staff members freely utilize the platform for a wide variety of purposes. LINE WORKS is now an effective place to develop and exercise their ownership and creativity.

"The decision to go without rules" creates staff members who will take leading roles in TRUNK

Honestly, from the HR standpoint, I have worries about not having company standards or rules. Without binding rules, it is difficult to reprimand people unless in extreme circumstances.

For example, we distribute uniforms, but we do not require our staff members to wear the uniforms.

Instead, we tell them that they may wear their own decent clothes.However, it is up to them if their clothes are decent or not, so there is a possible risk that our company images and manners may be compromised. However, our policy does not attach importance to the process as long as they adequately play their role and achieve the required objectives. So, we are determined to keep this policy in the future.

Perhaps it’s possible just because we are a relatively small company with about 100 people, and when the number of staff members increases in the future, not having rules may be more difficult. I feel we are following a difficult path, but when each of our 100 staff members grows to embody our TRUNK DNA and positively influence our future newcomers, our policies should be sustainable.

Turn the unique individuality of the staff members into solid TRUNK DNA

We are a relatively new hotel that just opened in May 2017, so it will take another few years before we can see if our personnel strategy has been right. But I am convinced that our personnel strategy is on the right track at least now, since our guests say, “I can see people working in TRUNK(HOTEL) really enjoy the work.”

Recruitment information of TRUNK Co., Ltd.