How “One Culture” Made MGM Resorts International a Billion-Dollar Brand

What would you change about your company if you knew you’d be bankrupt tomorrow? Over the last 30 years, MGM Resorts International has become the billion-dollar brand we know today through mergers and acquisitions. It’s the second largest gaming company in the world by revenue and employs 62,000 employees at its resorts around the globe.

Yet, during the economic downturn of 2009, MGM Resorts found itself in a dire situation: the company was within hours of filing for bankruptcy.

At the time, MGM Resorts operated as a holding company and managed its resorts as independent entities. The president of each property, from the Bellagio to Circus Circus, individually made all decisions from business strategy to food suppliers.

Jim Murren, who was appointed Chairman and CEO in late 2008, focused on saving the company. He drove the company toward centralization and looked at its business strategy through the lens of a traditional Fortune 500 company. From that day forward, MGM Resorts would operate as one company with one culture and one mission.

Today, MGM Resorts is an industry leader with a workforce as diverse as its clientele. The company was recently recognized as one of Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ for 2013 in the United States, for its specific achievements in vision and values.

MGM Resorts’ vision and values are the vehicles by which it achieves success—and also responsible for its epic comeback post-financial crisis of 2009. The company defines its key values based on commonalities shared by all properties: Teamwork, Integrity, and Excellence. Moreover, MGM Resorts’ mission and people philosophy are strategically intertwined, as it engages, invests in, and inspires its employees.

“I am the most proud of our people philosophy. If you treat your employees as well as you treat your guests, the end result is improved engagement and improved guest service. We built all of our strategies, competencies, and culture initiatives around engaging and inspiring them.”—Michelle DiTondo, Senior Vice President, Human Resources, MGM Resorts International

As the company’s top Human Resources executive, Michelle DiTondo leads the team responsible for strategic development and implementation of the people philosophy and culture for MGM Resorts. DiTondo launched “M life Insider” in 2011. To provide context, the M life initiative unifies all of MGM Resorts’ brands as a loyalty club for customers. Similarly, M life Insider provides “insider offers” that only employees can access, like exclusive hotel and services offers for friends and family.

“We wanted the employees to understand the experience we were trying to deliver to our customers through M life,” stated DiTondo “which helps our employees feel like they’re important and valuable to our company.”

Being an insider in Las Vegas means something to employees—and if they stay with MGM Resorts, there are benefits to being an “M life Insider” that do not go with employees after they leave.

But what good are vision and values without reinforcement and the right inspiration from the top? Christopher Henry, Vice President of Talent and Organizational Development at MGM Resorts, leads the alignment of the company’s people philosophy with its business strategy. This alignment helps employees offer guests a memorable experience they’ve never had before and that in turn creates guest loyalty and drives success.

Henry believes that the cultural environment has an impact on how happy people are on a level of engagement—and all of that starts with leadership. Leaders that are strong and influential in championing the change that facilitates one company culture are integral to the company’s success.

We’d like to congratulate MGM Resorts International for their achievement as one of the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces™ in 2013. What do you think positively contributes to an engaged workforce? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section. Don’t forget to apply for the 2014 awards and celebrate your engaged workplace.

To learn more, visit the Achievers 50 Most Engaged Workplaces website.

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Profile image of author: Tatiana Beale

Tatiana Beale is a Senior Marketing Communications Specialist at Achievers. She is passionate about changing workplaces for the better and inspiring Employee Success™ through insightful content. Tatiana believes that employee happiness is the key to a wildly successful company. She feels lucky to be part of the unique Achievers culture and means it when she says “I love my job.”


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