Caesars Doubles Down on People and Projects

Kelly Gregoire, VP of HR at Caesars Windsor, is creating a better community inside and outside of work, betting on the development of its people and their surroundings

The view of Caesars Windsor from the Detroit River. On the left, the Forum hotel tower (left) is 23 storeys tall, while the Augustus tower (right) is 27 storeys. Photo by Elaine Kilburn

At Caesars Windsor—a hotel and resort company recognized worldwide—no one is more passionate about the brand than vice president of human resources Kelly Gregoire. Initially drawn to HR because of how it enabled her to help businesses succeed by cultivating an energetic, engaged staff, Gregoire started her career and learned the ropes in operations. When she joined Caesars Windsor, it was in the midst of great change, and she saw an opportunity for growth. Here, the people specialist talks to Advantage about restructuring HR processes, community outreach, and the importance of employee-engagement surveys.

Right before you joined, Caesars Windsor went through a restructuring. What was redefining HR processes like?
The team had recently been restructured, so there were HR staff that changed positions, and there were new people in the department that came from operations and other organizations. With that scope of change, everyone was new and feeling out the business—and their roles. Getting the team orientated with a common vision is a very interesting process. I didn’t come in with the need to do a major overhaul. I was fortunate I had a great team in place.

You oversee an initiative called Legendary Leadership. Tell me about it.
Well, it’s a corporate program providing foundational leadership training. It’s really about improving employee engagement, or as we say: “skills to get, guide, and root for employees.” Our leaders attended the courses to develop a better understanding of how to apply leadership and track outcomes. We want our leaders to be outstanding coaches and unleash the potential of each employee. We’ve seen amazing results, as measured in the employee-engagement survey.


Graduates with an honours bachelor of commerce and starts work at General Motors

Becomes continuous improvement leader at Siemens Automotive

Earns MBA

Joins Accucaps as VP of human resources

Begins work at Caesars Windsor as VP of human resources

When did the survey start?
Last year was round two for us; this year is round three. An outside company is helping us facilitate it. It helps us see where we need to focus so that we can grow effective leaders and engaged employees that are heard.

Caesars has a code of commitment to make local communities more vibrant places to live and work. Part of that is encouraging employees to volunteer through the H.E.R.O. program. Is the program something you participate in?
Of course! H.E.R.O. is all about “helping employees reach out.” I can’t explain how much I love this program. It just makes me feel so proud to work here. Our employees have donated 4,500 hours and raised $300,000 for the local community. The actual volunteering and raising of donations take shape in so many different ways. There have been dragon boat races. We’ve planted trees. There was a time when we rappelled from the 27th floor of a building. It’s a great, fun way for our employees to give back, and I believe it inspires passion around charity work. There’s also a health-and-wellness component. We offer ways to get involved in the community and get healthy in the process.

Another program I’ve read about is Halogen. Can you tell me more about it?
Halogen is amazing. It’s an online talent-management tool I’ve used at other companies, with a great deal of success, so I was very excited when Caesars decided to implement it. It’s basically a system that mimics your process, so you don’t have to redesign how you’re managing your process to match the system. I find it very helpful for being consistent, providing timely feedback, and being able to provide more specific coaching to improve measures. We began using Halogen in early 2014, and switching over was easy because it’s easy to use and is very intuitive.

Why is new technology helpful to HR?
It’s important to have good systems in place. Technology evolves so quickly that it can feel very challenging to keep up. Plus, it can be quite expensive. For us, utilizing newer technology is like a commitment to working more efficiently.

Now that things have settled down after the restructuring, what are some goals you have moving forward?
As the business evolves, it’s important to get a good view of where we are and where we’re going. I’m working on a strategic plan for HR—sort of a road map for our team to do great things and add value to the company. My goal is to evolve great, existing initiatives and develop new programs to ensure success.