With the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions easing, the hospitality industry is slowly re-emerging from one of the worst performance periods in history. Smith Travel Research is reporting 5 straight weeks of occupancy growth in the US hotel market after the worst April on record. While restrictions remain in place, restaurants have been given the green light to reopen “dine in” options, hotels are reopening and travel is on its way back. Most forecasts are looking for the third and fourth quarters of this year to continue to grow.
There are so many complicated factors that need to be balanced as businesses emerge from limited operations and shutdowns. Critical in this process is how and what we do to communicate with our employees.
Even if your employee culture was outstanding prior to the COVID-19 crisis, there will be many things to do. Many employees may be balancing home schooling, financial hardships and undue stress. For most, this is a period of transition that employers need to stay focused on. Here are a few reminders of staying in touch and communicating with your teams:
CREATE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT
Whether in stages or all at once, it is so important to provide a welcoming and safe environment for your teams. Your leadership is key! The senior leaders of the business need to own this responsibility and be certain that everyone is engaged and excited to be back. Holding a “town hall” or an all team member rally is a great opportunity to celebrate reopening, communicate expectations and answer important questions.
COMMUNICATE NEW HEALTH AND SAFETY PROCEDURES
All businesses have put in place new procedures for cleaning, sanitation, distancing and hygiene. Find ways to communicate these new procedures in a way where everyone buys into the process and become ambassadors for your business and brand.
EMPATHIZE WITH EMPLOYEE FEARS
Reassuring returning employees to help overcome their range of fears will be a critical step to establish a level of comfort and confidence in returning to work. Extensive training for front line employees, particularly housekeeping, maintenance, and food and beverage will give them more confidence that their own health won’t be in any jeopardy or at least minimized risk.
During daily stand-up meetings before each shift leaders should deliver a clear and consistent message to their employees. They in turn will be communicating to your guests that your business is on top of things.
ENCOURAGE SAFE AND SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT
Now more than ever, it is important to consistently give your employees a platform of engagement. These range from one on one conversations, routine senior leadership roundtable discussions with 5-10 employees, internal social media platforms and apps designed to keep everyone informed and have a voice.
Communicating that we are all in this together will keep your teams understanding that we are all working on something bigger and that everyone has a purpose and is making a positive impact.
Keep in mind that all highly performing organizations have emotionally connected, engaged and empowered teams. We need to communicate the vision in a way that everyone is on the same page and proud to be a part of the recovery.