Event hosted by Esther O’Halloran, Chair HR in Hospitality, 25th March 2021
Reflect, Reopen, Rise with Caterer.com
Watch the full webinar recording HERE
One year on and we all recognise the impact that Covid has had on the hospitality sector with huge disruption and losses, however with every crisis comes an opportunity to change. As hospitality gears up for opening we need to consider how we will support our people to better manage their life around their work but also their work around the lives. When it comes to people, processes and cultures, what matters most? We do need to reflect on the lessons learnt from last year in order to be ready to reopen and rise again.
It was so insightful to hear from truly inspiring hospitality leaders as they reflected on the lessons of 2020 and how these insights are helping them build brilliantly for reopening, recovery and rise.
Michael Bonsor, Managing Director, Rosewood London
Their hotel reopened in September and remained open through the third lockdown and are now taking the opportunity to revaluate the business.
Stop, reflect and revaluate the whole business: an upside to this lockdown situation was that it allowed those working to focus on projects that, in an operational hotel, would not have been possible. All department leaders have revaluated their areas for example, HR have bought training programmes online, Sales and Events have used the opportunity to clean up databases and the Finance team have renegotiated all contracts. The quiet time has been used to allow the hotel to be in the best shape to accept the business back. The business has changed and is being adapted in accordance with government guidelines, from alfresco dining to the delivery service and online store.
Engagement with furloughed staff: Increased engagement activities since January, the last few months have been about overcommunicating. A lot of social activities were arranged to reengage and get spirits up. Many hours of online training has taken place which meant the leadership team have completed nearly 80% of leadership training. Also partnered with The Skills Network to enrol employees on an in-depth mental health awareness training.
Acknowledge that everyone is feeling different: Acknowledge how associates are feeling, those working and those on furlough. Identify the individual’s feelings and work with them to get back on track.
The new normal: Focus for the future will be to get back the colleagues back that sadly departed along the way. Expecting more flexibility and agility by combining departments together, Food and Beverage team are not attached to individual departments any longer. A number of associates will have to go and work in other areas that we know will be busy. Realised that people can work from home! Look into hybrid working arrangements to retain the flexibility.
Workforce planning: The Roadmap shows that come September, the industry will be in a position to recruit again and all will be looking for talent- there may be issues in finding enough talent as so many have gone home and left the country. Need to do a lot of work to rebuild the reputation of the industry.
Communication: Sent an anonymous survey to try and understand what everyone else is feeling with a 90% response rate, vast majority of employees really appreciated the communication. More recommendations received around sharing even more of what is happening at the hotel, what are the operational hours going to look like. Where there is not answer that’s ok, employees should be informed we don’t have the answer. Being transparent, open and honest and not creating any cloudiness.
Creation of new job roles: Lots of emphasis now on security and health & safety and looking to strengthen moving forward along with the flexibility of teams.
Role of digital platforms: Hospitality has always lagged behind from other industries. Rosewood London’s workforce is quite young and appreciate the shift to going online. We want to keep it that way and move training videos to online as well. Hoping there is less paper on the desk, less handouts, which will help with sustainability. Need to look at the moments when people can be brought back together again but probably not for training this year.
Top Tip: No cannot be an answer, stop and think way outside the box and see how to make things work.
Ghazala David, Area Director of Human Resources, Dorsett Hospitality
Their properties were housing NHS staff and frontline workers last year which meant their business and staff had to adapt.
Put together a process on how to bring people back: Currently looking at putting a road map together for what is needed. Things that are being planned is to ensure everyone is fully trained and nurtured back into the job. Envisage some difficulty with this initially as some employees have not worked for more than a year. Need to also focus on the basics and take baby steps. This part needs to be really robust but cannot put everyone in the same box, everyone is different.
Enable a multiskilled team: The team also need to be flexible and adaptable and the HOD’s need to be on board too. Give them the opportunity to learn different tasks and support each other at the same time.
WFH: Enable the flexibility where possible to allow people to work from home and support this. But don’t isolate them, ensure they remain involved.
Mental health focus: Encourage the organisation to have an EAP and give employees the opportunity to talk to someone. An open door policy is key.
Don’t forget about development: Focus on the employees career path as have been out of the business for some time. Coach them, support them and give them time to get back into routines.
Business levels for remainder of the year: Europe going into red zone does not help the situation at all. Business will not come back to previous levels for another two years or so. Employees will have to adapt in line with how the clientele is adapting. Zoom is becoming such a big thing, city business is suffering because they are mainly corporate and this is challenging. Vaccinations may change things but only time will tell.
Top Tip: have a can do attitude, engage and embrace the team
Josh Light, Director of People & Culture, Ennismore Clubs
Preparing for all of the changes that need to be communicated to ensure people are reconnected with their work.
Communicate, communicate, communicate: Use tech to reach out to people. Overcommunicating is better than information not coming out. Do it in a way that is compassionate and human. People are feeling differently and are going through different things. Remember that people have lost loved ones, Covid is still around. Exciting to open but people have been through tough things financially. Empathetic leadership has never been so important.
Wellbeing focus: Give people tools to manage stress. A great tool is OpenBlend which does a quick pulse check to measure stress, confidence and happiness at work. Employee Assistance Programmes are also available.
Stamina levels have changed: Fitness levels have changed with lots of people being sedentary in the past year. Give people time to ease themselves back into work. Remember that everyone is different.
Mental and emotional preparation: Training is allowed whilst on furlough so push material through to get people prepared. Prepare them emotionally and mentally through this training. Get them to mentally prepare themselves before talking about policies and procedures.
Future of talent: During the pandemic, good people from hospitality have found other industries and love working in those industries. It’s down to business leaders to help people fall back in love with the industry. Many employees have struggled financially in the past year. Employees are keen to come back but need to be strict that they do not burnout. There are lots of great people out there but let us not forget about the big B word. Businesses need to club together, even though there is a lot of competitiveness especially in the 5-star world. The government has done a lot of great things around apprenticeships. It is up to every business to bang the drum about the hospitality industry.
Digital HR platforms for reopening: Include as many systems as possible to get away from admin to allow time to focus on people. HRIS systems are not that expensive anymore if you choose the right platforms. Consider integrating ‘Happiness Officers’ in the people team whose sole responsibility is to ensure that people are happy and engaged, their mental health is good- would rather invest in a role like that then have someone focus on pushing paper. Blended learning is good, digital is great, but it’s about having a balance. You can do workbooks now in Flow and everything remains stored there. Find systems that enable managers to have conversations with employees.
Top Tip: Compassionate leadership goes a really long way.