News : Marriott's Expanded Call Center Receives Praise in Nebraska
Columbus, NB, USA, July 4, 2016 -- Nebraska recently hit a new economic milestone: more than 1 million non-farm-related jobs in the state.
One of those employees is Jacquie Smith, a stay-at-home mom in Columbus, who stays home and still earns a paycheck.
Her five children are her full-time job, but from 5:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., she clocks in as a reservation call specialist for Marriott hotels, earning a paycheck in a corner of her bedroom.
"I honestly didn't think something like this was possible," she said. "I mean, it was just truly some kind of a gift."
She had been a stay-at-home mom for the past six years, having to give special attention to her youngest son, Shawn, who was born with genetic disorder. Shawn has had three operations and a list of health problems. He’s doing better, though, making it possible for Smith to work under the right situation.
"I can walk a block to the school, give him a treatment and come right back," Smith said.
Marriott was looking to expand its call center in Omaha. At the same time, the Apogee Call Center in Columbus closed its doors last fall, leaving 300 people, some who were visually impaired, without a job.
"There must be a lot of people in Columbus that need a job, and we absolutely need talent," said Chris Dunn, the director of Marriott Human Resources.
Marriott’s Columbus model was recognized by Gov. Pete Ricketts last week. It trains, then sets up all the equipment employees need to work inside their homes.
The company found both staff retention and productivity increased.
"Their performance is very good because they are happy," Dunn said.
Smith said she’s happy, because for the first time, everyone in the family is covered by health insurance. She’s happy to be able to work overtime so she could surprise her two teenage daughters with tickets to the Justin Bieber concert at Pinnacle Bank Arena a couple of weeks ago.
"My children have given up a lot, so as a mom, that kind of really filled my cup," Smith said. "So I wouldn't have been able to do that any other way."
Smith credits the Nebraska Career Center for helping find the right match for her. Marriott officials said they have hired 170 associates in the Columbus-Norfolk area and hope to have another training class in August.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Marriott International:
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is an American diversified hospitality company that manages and franchises a broad portfolio of hotels and related lodging facilities. Founded by J. Willard Marriott, the company is now led by President and Chief Executive Officer Arne Sorenson. Today, Marriott International has more than 3,800 properties in over 74 countries and territories around the world.
Published: Wednesday, July 6, 2016