How to Take Care of Hotel Staff as COVID-19 Surges

Discover the three steps hoteliers can take to increase safety for hotel staff, soothe fear, and drive recovery as COVID-19 surges in reopened countries.

In the wake of COVID-19, the entire hospitality industry has come to agree on one thing: making guests feel safe and regaining their trust is the only way to come back from the devastating losses of the past few months. Hospitality Technology wrote about it. Skift wrote about it. We wrote about it. And so did just about everyone else.

But the key to making guests feel safe and satisfied lies largely in the hands of hotel staff—a group that has suffered major losses since COVID-19 hit, with even industry leaders like Hyatt and Hilton implementing significant workforce cuts. Beyond layoff anxiety, there are serious health concerns. Coronavirus cases are surging in the United States and could rise in other countries as well. Are staff members who are still working endangering themselves and family members?

Frankly, there is no easy way to remove health and economic anxiety from your employees. So what can you do? Take their concerns seriously, and take care of them as much as you can. You’ll reap the rewards in the form of lower turnover rates and higher guest satisfaction.

Here are a few simple ways you can start:

Enforce health and safety policies—even when it’s awkward

There will always be guests (and staff members!) who have no interest in following the health protocols you’ve implemented to keep everyone safe. Whether it’s requiring masks or limiting the number of people in common areas, your protocols will only work if you’re serious about them. The easiest way to lose employee trust is to let unsafe actions slide.

Be clear with employees about what they should do if a guest or a coworker is breaking protocol—and emphasize that all unsafe actions should be confronted or reported. Safety is not optional for anyone. It’s the type of thing that may seem obvious, but reiterating your commitment to their safety will go a long way to soothing fear and boosting safety for hotel staff.

Then, when issues are reported or confrontations arise, follow through, stand by them, and take decisive action to resolve the situation. It may not be pleasant at the time, but it will pay off.

Optimize and automate daily workflows to lighten the load

Because the hospitality industry has been one of the industries devastated by COVID-19 closures, many hotels have furloughed or laid off many of their employees. Even with many economies reopening, the teams coming back to work are likely much smaller than the ones in place at the start of the year.

With fewer hands—and more work, thanks to heightened cleaning and safety standards—it’s easy for hotel staff to become overwhelmed. As fear rises with case numbers, that’s only more likely. You may not be able to hire more people to help, but you can easily change your processes.

Using technology to automate processes and increase cross-departmental communication so nothing slips through the cracks can transform the daily workflows that may otherwise be difficult or frustrating. Without the stress of lost service requests and miscommunication, your staff will work more cohesively as a unit and be able to tackle the challenges they’re facing right now.

Reduce contact between staff and guests by implementing touchless service

Basic health and cleaning standards can do a lot to minimize the chance of spreading infection—especially in common areas—but they can’t do everything. There are certain staff members who will still incur significant risk as they go about their daily duties. Housekeeping, food and beverage, and front desk employees all traditionally require direct contact with guests to do their jobs well.

Yet contactless technology and processes can reduce those risks as well and, in some cases, eliminate them altogether. There’s no better way to show staff how deeply invested in their success and wellbeing you are than to provide them with ways to deliver excellent service without compromising their personal health. Currently, there are several contactless strategies hotels can implement: from mobile check-in and mobile key, which enable guests to skip the front desk altogether, to mobile dining and service requests, which make contactless deliveries possible.

The more you can turn face-to-face interactions into digital ones, the better for your employees. In this scenario, automation won’t dampen or depersonalize the spirit of great customer service your staff brings to your company, but will streamline processes and reduce contact so they’re better able to provide even higher quality service both during and after the pandemic.

If the past few weeks of surging American cases are any indicator, COVID-19 will remain a concern across the world for the foreseeable future. The bottom line is this: How you treat your employees now will affect how your hotel recovers. Now is the time to invest heavily in hotel staff safety and satisfaction—it’s not just good for them, it’s also good for your business.

Looking to increase guest and hotel staff safety with contactless service? See why mobile check-in may be the best place to start.

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