The end to the COVID-19 lockdown is finally in sight. All being well, the hospitality sector is set to reopen in early July, which is tremendous news (and an enormous relief) for everyone involved in our wonderful industry.
It’s been a worrying time for all of us.
Here, at Prime Agency Recruitment, we can’t wait to get things moving again, and we’re sure you’re feeling the same way.
But, before we all throw open our doors and begin the hard work of finally getting back to business, let’s take a moment to think about what we can learn from the COVID experience. After all, even though the lockdown will be ended, there are still a lot of changes we need to make. What can you do to weather this transitional stage and bounce back with a business that’s more efficient and productive than ever before?
Because that’s precisely what we want to help you achieve.
Concentrate on what’s most important
It will be easy to get caught up in the nuts and bolts of everything, like how you’re going to recoup lost income, and how you’re going to attract customers back to your business and re-establish your cash flow while still observing all the necessary post-COVID-19 rules. There are a lot of practical measures your business will have to put in place, and you’ll quite understandably be focused on making decisions that can give you the quickest returns on your investment.
But please don’t forget that your best investment is the people who work for you.
They are what’s most important.
They’re the ones who are going to make sure that all the changes you’re making work, and who are going to give your anxious customers the kind of experience that will encourage them to revisit you again and again.
Hospitality has always been a high-pressure industry, and now there’s going to be more pressure on your team members than ever before.
Leading your team members through change
In the past, we’ve talked a lot about the importance of a compassionate and all-inclusive work culture.
When your team members know how much you value them, and when they feel empowered and supported because they know you’ve got their best interests at heart, they will go ‘above and beyond’ to make your business a success. They’ll be happier and more productive. They’ll want to keep working for you, which means your staff retention rate will be much higher. When you want to recruit new team members, you’ll have the pick of the most talented candidates because everyone will know what a progressive, caring, employer you are.
So, before your business reopens, give careful thought to how you’re going to lead your staff through this time of unprecedented change.
Communicate with them. Motivate them. Empathise with them. Support them.
Make change positive
It’s been a daunting few months for all of us; from business owners and senior managers to waiting staff, housekeepers, and concierges. We’ve all had to deal with an overwhelming amount of anxiety and uncertainty, and we know that it isn’t over yet. The world is a very different place now, and the changes that have been forced upon us could last for a very long time. We’ve also got to remember that the majority of people working within the hospitality industry don’t earn a huge salary. For them, even if you’re one of those fantastic employers who was able to keep them on furlough, this has been especially scary.
On top of that, many returning employees will also have concerns about the safety of coming back to work. Not just how you’re planning to keep them safe within the workplace, but issues like how they’re going to travel safely to and from your venue.
If you communicate with your team members clearly, positively, and be as reassuring as possible (while always remaining honest), it will go a long way towards alleviating their fears.
Let them know how much you value them and have missed them. Reinforce the message that you’re all in this together and that, with unity and mutual support, you’ll all be able to survive and thrive.
Taking the approach that now the lockdown’s over it’s all going to be business-as-usual won’t work. Your team members know there are challenges ahead. They know they’ll be required to do things a little differently. Don’t play down what is happening.
It’s a well-known fact that employees respond best to leaders and managers who show a clear vision.
Acknowledge there will be changes, but emphasise that you’ll get through them by working together. Before long, the changes will have become the new normal.
Tell them what your plans are. Inspire them by reminding them how vital they are to making those plans a success. If possible, talk to them individually and make sure they understand what you expect of them, and why, and also find out what they need from you to be more comfortable. Listen to their feedback and act on it where necessary. Show them you appreciate them.
Let your most trusted employees have input into your management decisions. That won’t only make them feel more involved; their ‘shop floor’ perspective will be invaluable. After all, they are the ones who are doing the job.
Encourage collaboration. Many businesses will want their staff to take on a broader range of disciplines, so turn that into a positive by explaining how learning new skills and taking on more responsibilities will be incredible for their career future. In fact, even though this is a time when a lot of employers will be looking at cutting costs and saving money, investing in your employees by introducing an in-house training or mentoring scheme is something that will pay dividends in the long run.
Empathy and Support
Be visible. Let your employees know your door is always open. Or, at the very least, that their immediate manager will always be available to hear their suggestions and listen to their concerns.
If there’s a problem, don’t react instantly. Pause, think about it, make sure you have all the facts, and then take informed action. Don’t use reprimands unless you’ve got absolutely no other alternative. Reprimands rarely work, and they almost always make things worse. Stay mindful that these are extraordinary times for everybody. Even though we’re back at work, we’re still under a lot of stress.
Show your employees your appreciation on a regular basis. As the weeks and months roll by, we’ll inevitably find ourselves falling into the ‘same old-same old’ routine, and we might even start taking things for granted. Here, at Prime Agency Recruitment, we’ve always believed we should never take anything for granted, and that’s one of the lessons that COVID-19 has taught the world as well. Let your employees know you value them. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture. Asking someone how they are today and taking a minute or two to check in with them goes a long way. So does a sincere ‘thank you’ for a job well done, or a reassuring word when things are difficult. There are other rewards you might consider, too: from a thank you card to a gift voucher, or a surprise day off.
Keep your team members safe, and make sure they know how to keep themselves and each other safe
In the same way that you want your customers and guests to know your business is completely safe to visit, you want your staff to feel safe too. Keep all areas properly sanitised, make sure that your team have access to hand sanitiser, PPE etc. as appropriate, and before you reopen be certain that everyone is completely clear on your policy for safely interacting with guests. If you’re considering implementing staff rotation, make sure it’s fair.
At Prime, we’ve ensured that all our staff have been issued with guidance about how to work safely for our clients during these challenging times.
Hospitality is a ‘people’ industry. If you’re a leader who demonstrates that this industry isn’t just about business, it’s also about caring for and supporting the people you work with, your employees will repay your goodwill by doing whatever they can to help you through the obstacles ahead. And the beauty of this is it all pays forward because showing your employees how much you care will indirectly show your customers how much you care, too.
Now, more than ever before, your business needs team members who are professional enough to hit the ground running and adaptable enough to work around all the challenges you’ll face over the coming months. You don’t just need staff who have excellent ‘technical’ skills; you also need staff who are flexible, resilient, eager to take on more responsibility and have a ‘can-do’ attitude and a sense of humour on even the most trying of days.
Those are the kind of first-class staff and candidates you’ll find in our extensive talent pool, and we’ve been adding to that pool even during the lockdown. Whenever you need us, give our friendly expert team a call on 020 7580 4398 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll always be here to help.
Stay safe and have a fantastic reopening!