Vail Resorts rolled out a new direction in a company-wide email sent by the CEO Kirsten Lynch. The new direction includes a new incremental annual $175 million investment in its employees that includes a $20 per hour starting wage, a commitment to “aggressively” expand affordable employee housing, and the hiring of more centralized HR staff, among other things.
Lynch wrote, “One of my biggest takeaways from these past 100 days is the importance of each of you – our team. We have a mission that we all know and love: Experience of a Lifetime. You are the core of this mission. We cannot create an Experience of a Lifetime for our guests without first creating an Experience of a Lifetime for you – unfortunately, we have fallen short on that.”
Lynch reflected that Vail Resorts “requires a pivotal shift in our company’s direction with a new strategic focus on all of you—year-round and seasonal, hourly and salaried, mountain resorts and corporate.”
Pay. That shift includes the $20 per hour starting rate for employees across all of its 37 North American properties and corporate, effective winter 2022-23. Tipped roles are included in the bump, and maintenance technicians, certified commercial vehicle drivers, and patrol will start at $21 per hour. The company upped the starting wage to $15 per hour at 10 of its properties—not the entire portfolio—ahead of the 2021-22 season.
Year-end merit increases for salaried employees will double from an average of 3 percent to an average of 6 percent, effective October 2022. There will also be increases for hourly employees with compression adjustments based on “career stage and leadership differentials.”
Career development. VR will also add seasonal frontline leadership development programming. While the specifics of the programming were not outlined, Lynch said this about the company’s leadership development goals: “If you come for a season, we want you to have the opportunity to build a career.”
Housing. Vail Resorts plans to add to the roughly 7,000 affordable housing beds it provides across its mountain resorts. While the details were not provided, Lynch said several key projects were underway and that the company is looking both to build housing on the land it owns and pursue company leases in existing affordable housing developments.
Human Resources. The company will invest “an additional $4 million per year in HR immediately,” Lynch said, in response to payroll and HR support challenges that staff has continued to experience. This includes adding 66 members to its central human resources service staff, effectively doubling its central HR and payroll team. VR said it also intends to upgrade its HR technology systems and simplify its HR processes.
Lynch thanked all of the staff – “You have all worked tirelessly to welcome all skiers and riders back to the mountains this season, despite the challenges. I want to thank each of you for your passion and commitment to our mountains, our company, and our guests.”
She also extended the opportunity to discuss these changes in more detail in upcoming Town Hall meetings with company leaders in late March and early April.
Ski the world!