At a time of huge cultural change, building agile, resilient and confident leaders, managers and employees now will bring benefit to the hospitality sector for years to come.
We spoke to Edward Gallier, Head of Learning and Development with Jury’s Inn and Leonardo Hotels on what hospitality business can do to develop the skills, confidence and resilience the sector will need to thrive in the future.
It’s all about timing
March 23 was already in Edward Gallier’s diary as the day Jury’s Inn would launch their new employee app. Timing, as they say, is critical and never more so than when your entire workforce is suddenly furloughed with no return date in sight.
Edward commented, “We went ahead with the launch then spent a lot of time ensuring that all our people understood the role the app would play and were signed up so that we could communicate and explain what was happening within the business during lockdown. We wanted to make sure we really leveraged all the comms options.”
The app meant that teams had access to development programs and opportunities to feedback and come up with their own suggestions. It wasn’t all about skills though. The app had a very social face and included baking and cocktail demos, fitness classes and even pet pictures, giving people a reason, within the social groups, to visit the app.
Show it like it is
As the sector moved to reopen, Jury’s Inn focused on the mental health and wellbeing of their teams. Employees were asked to complete a questionnaire to check that they were confident and ready to return.
“Once we knew our teams were ready to return we put together a little film of photography showing everyone how reception would change, how the bar would operate, what procedures we had in place for guests from arrival to departure, including payments – the whole idea was to give our teams confidence and to take away the unknown before they came back into the hotels.” Edward continued. “We also put together a ‘journey’ for our people, from leaving their home, coming into work, being in the hotel. Turning things around quickly was paramount so there wasn’t time to make every video perfect. That didn’t matter as we’re a people industry and our people appreciated the honesty of the communications.”
Building confidence and resilience
Edward was keen to stress the importance of information sharing. “When we talk about smart empowerment and confidence, communication is key. To have confidence in your job you have to know as much as possible, have all the information. Empowerment is a core philosophy within our organisation.”
One example Edward shared is around ‘bending the rules’ to meet a guest’s requests. As Edward says “empowering our teams to deliver means they can make those types of decisions but not when it comes to health and safety. This may cause a guest to feel disappointed, so we’re giving our people the confidence and skills to manage those situations and that involves good leadership from managers and supervisors.”
“We want our leadership teams to be visible and confident to both our guests and teams. That visibility and confidence ripples through the entire team. When guests check in, they can see that resilience and confidence, everyone working together with reassurance from their leaders and managers, the right word at the right time.”
Finally, Edward had the following advice, “You can’t turn the clock back so businesses should find a way to manage the quality of relationships with their people. Communication has been key throughout lockdown and now we have to find a way to continue those levels of dialogue, sharing key information and building on that. There is very little cost involved but the returns are vast. Let people know what to expect, what they are returning to, and be honest about that.”
Hospitality people have shown just how resilient and agile they are over the past few months. People will be worried about the future and the unknown can be frightening. Communication, not only with your teams but with other leaders and managers in the sector, will help to define the way forward. There will be many changes but through empowerment we can build a resilient and confident workforce, ready to welcome customers back.