Vital Insights on Managing Hotel HR Challenges During Covid-19
Hotel managers can handle HR challenges in the Covid-19 era of hospitality by better utilising millennial freelance workers and embracing candid and proactive internal communications. To attain better inclusivity and diversity in hotel operations, put processes in place that recognise that employees are often driven by emotive factors, not rational ones.
Three hotel HR experts then drilled down into detailed HR insights and strategies during the I Meet Hospitality webinar, 20 May, organised by online travel community, Bidroom. The key takeaways were:
1. Freelancer Millennial Employee Needs are Unique
Compared to other generations, survey evidence shows that millennials (aged 24-39) typically value development and learning much more than financial compensation. Milou van Oosterwijk, Account Manager of freelance hospitality placement platform, Temper, told over 100 attendees on the webinar that smart hoteliers increasingly value freelancers. Indeed, they should involve them fully in delivering a hotel's brand values. Citing PWC research, she reported that millennial freelancers want flexibility, work/life balance, learning and development, a friendly work environment, and enjoyable work conditions. However, they are "loyalty light" and display employment "wanderlust". Successful hotel service delivery needs a "core team" of full-timers working closely with freelancers. Both are indispensable for delivering hospitality service to brand standards.
2. Honest Communication to Staff During Covid Crisis is Key
Beware the power of social media to burn a hotel's reputation if you get HR issues wrong. A hotel's hard-earned prestige can turn negative quickly if it mishandles staff redundancy notices or furlough procedures, said Rocco Bova, GM of the Chable Resort and Spa in Yucatan, Mexico. While only 30% of this staff are working on site, the Chable has retained all employees while the property is closed due to Covid-19 restrictions. Instead of sacking staff to preserve cash, hoteliers have the option of salary and benefit cuts, temporary closure of business, offloading equity positions, reducing or halting capital expenditure (e.g. refurbishments), scaling down or cancelling contracted services, and using unpaid leave.
During shutdown, Bova said it was imperative for management to have regular staff updates, for example by Facebook Groups, to share the latest information. It is vital not to communicate assumptions or rumours. Instead, focus on constant, transparent and positive internal communications. Ahead of the post-Covid upturn, hoteliers should ask staff for ideas on how to generate sales. Involve them in the decision process for the reopening, said Bova.
3. Reduce the Gap Between Latest Research and Hotel Operations
It can take many years for best practice research to be implemented by hoteliers, said Mikhail Romanenko, lecturer of MSc and Bachelor programmes at the Swiss Hotel Management School in Lausanne, Switzerland. Best practice research changes frequently. However, the best equipped hoteliers are those who cultivate an internal and continuous learning process that is receptive to new information. Furthermore, to improve a hotel's service delivery, a culture of diversity and inclusion in decision making is increasingly important. However, the spontaneous, subconscious brain often gets in the way. To counter this, the school's best practice training helps students find the right balance between cognitive and emotive decision making. Importantly, the annual performance review still used by around 80% of hotel HR departments is an ugly dinosaur. It should be replaced with more subtle metrics recommended by the school.
Webinar host, Marcin Wesolowski (left), the Director of Operations for Bidroom, said that fair and flexible HR practices were vital for the successful return of hospitality as Covid-19 tourism restrictions are eased.
The next I Meet Hotel webinar on 3 June will address "Sustainability: People, Prosperity and the Environment."
To sign up or find out more about upcoming I Meet Hotel webinars click here. Or email [email protected] Additional information: https://www.imeethotel.com.
To help hoteliers during the crisis, Bidroom has waived all hotel membership fees for 2020.