Big hotel chain keeps workers on job with unique offerings

David Carey
David Carey

By Duane Shimogawa bio | email

WAIKIKI (KHNL) - While most businesses are laying off people these days, one of Hawaii's largest hotel chains looks to go in a different direction.

The Outrigger Enterprises is offering employees a chance to keep their jobs.

Workers can take unpaid leave with medical benefits, or resign and get a lump sum payment plus medical coverage. it's a choice CEO David Carey says is best for their workers.

With fewer visitors coming to Hawaii, hotel industry workers are feeling a ripple effect. Many have lost their jobs.

"We have never faced a situation like this where we've had to deal with this kind of lack of work opportunities for so many employees and we're not alone, I think it's prevalent throughout the industry," Carey said.

He says from the start, laying off workers was not an option.

"It'd be very easy to lay somebody off, yet many of these people have given us 10, 15, 20 years of their lives in order to make the hospitality industry in our company better, so the least we could do is try to make the transition to a non-work environment as soft as possible," Carey said.

That means offering retirement incentives, not filling many openings, cutting down overtime hours and limiting time off.

"Our employees read the papers, watch the news, they know that times are tough, they know that we care about them and that there is simply not enough work to do and I think their hope is the company will do what it can to make their lives as good as possible," he said.

Carey says if visitor arrivals don't improve in the coming months, it may get worse for his workers.

"It's tough if you've got kids in college, mortgage to pay, rent to pay, you don't have a job, life's hard, there's no getting around that," he said.

Employees have until the middle of February to decide. Affected workers weren't allowed to talk to KHNL/K5.