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Hospitality in the Covid Crisis

I had only recently moved into the hospitality sector when the global pandemic hit. And overnight I watched (virtually) our thriving portfolio of busy hotels turn into 21 eerily quiet properties with skeleton staffing and c1200 people put on furlough. And as for the central teams who would still be working (to a point), again I watched people literally pick up their computer off their office desk and go home to work … and they are still there!

A year of perpetual uncertainty for a large workforce who are so very used to being around people, connected, smiling, offering great customer service to being on furlough, home schooling, financially squeezed, maybe alone, maybe suffering from COVID, maybe shielding others and no knowledge of when they would be back at work. And equally, there were those who did continue working where their days were long and relentless too, doing the rounds, walking the corridors, flushing the toilets, keeping the properties safe but without a guest in sight. 

We have talked often about burnout and yes, for some, life has remained extremely busy. But I think for many team members, this year has seen them more susceptible to rust-out – lacking purpose and a sense of meaning as they have waited for a return of the industry.

So, what have we learned about helping to support those whose mental and physical wellbeing may literally have been eroding during this torrid year?

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate and 2-way at that. Create space to allow your team to step in and talk about what they have been up to. Celebrate what they have been learning and what has currently been giving their life purpose? Recognise what they have achieved. It is all about helping remind people how much they matter to hopefully reignite and/or sustain that care within themselves too.

And in creating the space, you can also see who hasn’t shown up. Go seek them out. Their need is possibly greater than everyone else who did.

2. Stay active together and keeping building a great team.  Walk or run or Zoom class together. Do it for fun, do it for charity, do it just because. Whatever the activity, be it outside in nature (when allowed) or over Zoom (when restricted), this maintains and continues to build team and the realisation that we are not alone.

3. Help keeping to a schedule. Schedule your team calls same time each week. Schedule a virtual lunch, a coffee break or Friday drinks. Whatever it may be, schedule it. With a scheduled event comes commitment and with commitment come purpose – a reason to get up, a reason to get dressed.

4. Everyday learning. Offer the opportunity to keep up to date with learning for when they do return to work and NOT just compliance training. Find ways to offer opportunities to try new things such as new cocktails, new recipes, creating the perfect froth on that coffee. And no reason not to add a bit of friendly competition too. Help create some buzz, passion and motivation

5. And everyday learning doesn’t stop there. When you have them hooked on the online training, help them learn to rest. Boredom from rust-out is not resting. Offer mindfulness, meditation, self-care articles, blogs, podcasts. Help them learn to help and love themselves.


Bobby Davis FCIPD
Chief People Officer


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My six page word doc of notes is a testament to how insightful and significant the event was! Thank you #TCH19.

Amy Priest, Wellbeing, Diversity & Inclusion – Mental Health Lead, Experian