Having great leadership is always important to build team engagement, but it plays an even bigger role during a crisis. This may sound straightforward, but especially when you are navigating uncertain times, it can feel challenging.
To help you show true leadership now, three experts in the hospitality, learning and employee development fields share their top tips with you in this article.
How to manage hotel staff during times of crisis and layoffs
Jones Liew, an experienced corporate trainer and facilitator from Singapore, starts with an important reminder: as a leader, you have people following and trusting you as their role model in normal times and during a crisis.
This can put you in a tricky situation when your hotel has to furlough or let go of team members and you need to manage the situation effectively all while remaining compassionate.
To help you navigate this sensitive situation with the utmost care, Jones suggests offering extra support by creating a safe environment where staff can speak about their challenges, feel heard and understood and get suggestions that help them move forward.
Doing this is a great starting point when you know you might have to prepare your employees for the worst. It allows you to build your team’s trust in communication and your ongoing support. This is the key to keeping up motivation and engagement even during a crisis.
This is true for employees who stay on board and those you’ve had to furlough or put on temporary leave. Connor Vanderholm, Area Director of Revenue Management most recently with Hersha Hospitality Management, outlined how his company stays in touch with staff via emails and text messages to show them they are still a valued part of the team. Handwritten notes were sent to those who had been laid off, a gesture which was much appreciated.
Connor also highlights the importance of staff engagement in reducing turnover. If you neglect furloughed employees, they will probably start looking for other opportunities and may not come back.
How to announce redundancies
When announcing that you will have to let staff go, Jones emphasises the importance of empathy and clear communication of everything that led you to make your decision.
Then, offer as much support as possible to the team members you have to let go by providing relevant information about government assistance and job opportunities.
For a strong example of how to go about this, have a look at the open letter Airbnb founder and CEO Brian Chesky wrote recently.
Keeping your team motivated
During a crisis, keeping your team motivated and engaged is more important than ever. You can do this in simple ways like encouraging your team to get involved in what you’re doing to save your business. That way you give them a sense of ownership of the situation and you may even be surprised by the great ideas your staff has.
Projects or initiatives you could launch include community support projects, brainstorming ideas on saving costs and improving operations at your hotel or helping team members find ways to support each other, be it at home or in the workplace.
This creates stronger bonds between associates as well as with your hotel. Celebrating small wins will boost motivation, lift morale and help you to keep moving forward.
Oaky, for example, launched inter- and intradepartmental improvement projects. They were initiated by the company’s leadership but driven bottom-up. This increased engagement and morale and led to stronger relationships and better communication among team members and between departments.
How to use this downtime wisely
Ron Kaufman, the author of the bestselling book Uplifting Service, has some good advice on making the most of this downtime.
He suggests that instead of viewing this crisis as something you just need to ‘get through’ both in your business and personally, focus on growth and transformation during this time.
Use this crisis as a chance to move towards what you want to become in the future. For example, look at things that eat your time and don’t serve you. Now could be the best time to drop them and test new systems and approaches instead.
Think about how you could make yourself and your business better during this time. For example, is there a new skill you could learn or teach your staff? Which new tech solutions could help your hotel become more innovative and make your guests more comfortable on their first trip after the lockdown?
With many technology and e-learning providers offering free resources and trials, now is the best time to upskill, so you can come out of this better and stronger than before.
Bringing it all together
You can make these uncertain times less confusing and overwhelming for your staff by showing empathy, providing support and communicating new developments clearly and honestly.
Remember that we are all in the same boat. Now is the time to focus on what counts – keeping your team close and coming through together.
About the author
Saahil Karkera is the Head of Customer Success at Oaky. On a mission to help Oaky’s customers become rockstars at upselling, Saahil has been delivering amazing customer experiences of over 14 years, across multiple industries. He is a master at managing projects, teams and optimising business processes. Saahil would love to talk to you about Customer Success, team engagement, tech, startups, intermittent-fasting, ketogenic diet and strength training!