A SELECT SERVICE HOTEL SURVIVAL PLAN "IT’S ALL ABOUT OUR PEOPLE IN THIS PANDEMIC"
Responding to the economic shock brought about by COVID-19, my last blog was written in crisis mode. I focused primarily on stopping the bleed through various cost-cutting measures. According to my clients, these efforts were well-received by their staff. Even employees that were furloughed, though disappointed, understood. While they recognized they were not victims of workplace discrimination, they inevitably were still victims of the global and economic crisis that is COVID-19. With the mass increase of unemployment came the new “normal”— being quarantined at home either alone and in social isolation or confined with your household, spouse, kids, parents, roommates, etc. with neither situation being ideal nor easier than the other. “Social distancing”, “frequent hand washing”, “face masks”, “gloves”, “PPE” are phrases you hear every day like broken tape on repeat. To wear a mask or not to wear a mask? If this newfound strange reality isn’t ground for stress then what is? But wait, there’s more. Add to this reality, the indefinite loss of income with no money coming in. And yet living expenses still need to be paid. Any small sum in hand instantly evaporates. To top it all off, let’s say we do manage to survive without work, school or money, but now to survive without television, social media, texts, emails and all our devices? That’s a different story, not without its own set of consequences though. Turn any device on and the broken record continues, all one hears or sees is the new lexicon Apex, the curve, the death rate, and yet we want more, we can’t seem to get enough! Amidst all this chaos is an opportunity for you, the employer, to come in. Despite the jarring detached reality that they face at home, take advantage of these digital avenues to break the cycle and make them feel that they still belong. Stay connected, keep in touch regularly. Keep your employees posted, keep them in the loop. Human beings have an inherent need for belonging. Nurturing this need could not be more essential at this time, as your employees sit idly at home with all sorts of tensions running high. Tell them about how the hotel is coping in these dire times; tell them how the customers, albeit occasional customers, are coping, how the business is providing these patrons with “home away from home”. In times like this, it is important to go above and beyond. Do not allow yourself to be deterred by “it’s not in my job description”. It is relatively small and nuanced actions like these that will payoff multifold in busier times. You are building and cultivating a relationship with your employees, one goes beyond the “job description” and the confines of the business. When the market rebounds (and it definitely will), these employees will want to come back and work for you, because they know that with your company, they belong. This is your opportunity as an employer to show that you care, to show genuine empathy. Offer guidance, advice, resources and/or assistance where possible, whether it comes to unemployment, parenting, life or any coping skills for this “new” normal. If you demonstrate tangibly that you care, they will care for you. Care and empathy are key to driving loyalty. Giving your staff the sense of belonging and belief you care are the underpinnings of creating a community. Successful leaders will tell you creating a community takes a deliberate and consistent strategy, a key part in a business’ people & culture plan. You can do this weekly or monthly through a newsletter or simple email. You could invite furloughed employees to contribute to this community newsletter. In fact, you could start your own “thread”. I hope you find this helpful. Till the next time stay safe and hang tough, this too shall pass!