For many, we’re entering a long-awaited period, where hospitality businesses can finally throw open their doors and deliver a more ‘normal’ customer service.
But the idea of those pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels being back to greater capacity and delivery won’t always be music to the ears of everyone.
Indeed, some hospitality businesses may well find themselves witnessing an unexpected ‘hesitancy’ fallout, among the very staff they hoped would be desperate to get back to their colleagues and routine working lives.
So, what’s going on for this sector? And could it really pose something of a ‘people management’ drama for the managers and owners eager to satisfy as many customers as possible in light of the eased government restrictions?
Hospitality, as we all know, has been an arena to suffer longer and harder than so many other commercial offerings throughout the pandemic.
Food and drink venues were closed for many, many months, forced to place a contingent of staff on furlough and asked to develop different strategies and protocols for reopening. The legacy of this may well be an impact on how employees feel about the impending return.
For some staff, that time and space on furlough or ‘standby’, will have been enough to make them carefully consider how wedded to this particular industry they still are.
After all, those anti-social hours, possibly lower wage rates, and the resumption of time away from friends and family, may no longer be a pill they’re prepared to swallow in the way they might once have been.
Others, however they might love the industry, may now have fears about being in crowded spaces around people yet to have the vaccine – or they just don’t relish the idea of the new hygiene and cleaning regimes which will add to their typical work demands.
And that’s not to mention those who sought out new roles throughout the pandemic – even if initially only temporary – and have had a taste of a different kind of work life in the interim.
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With all those factors involved, what are the top considerations for ensuring you approach hospitality restart in a way which serves all staff in the most compassionate, appropriate and effective way for all concerned?
1. Remember this is a two way process
Approach all ‘returner’ conversations in such a way as to hear the concerns, fears, queries and dilemmas which your employee may have.
2. Reassure and reaffirm
If staff are worried about safety, ensure you’re giving them every good reason to understand what measures are in place and that you are taking the matter of their health extremely seriously. Present them with facts about the virus and about social environments. Don’t undermine concerns.
3. Be clear on expectations
Just as when you first employ a member of staff, it’s vital to set out the expectations for both parties from the outset. Treat this new chapter as if it was starting from that base-point, giving both sides the chance to know what will be expected in a post lockdown era.
4. Emphasise wellbeing
If you haven’t already created a wellbeing programme within the business, it would be a good idea to incorporate this. It will reassure staff that their mental and physical health is of equal importance to you, and that you’re making provision for them to talk to you at any time they feel uncomfortable or concerned.
5. Treat everyone as individuals
Recognise that not all staff will be leaping back into the workplace at the same pace, even if they’re keen to continue working for you. Stay in touch with them and keep abreast of how they’re managing their duties as they slowly adjust to the new way of working in today’s hospitality world.