Four ways to support your hospitality or retail team through the Coronavirus crisis
Few industries are feeling the impact of the coronavirus more keenly than food and beverage and retail. From restaurants to retailers, boutiques to major chains, businesses are grappling with the effects of COVID-19 and their employees are already feeling the pressure.
At a time when anxieties are running high, panic buying has become the new norm, and social distancing is a reality that could have a significant commercial effects on businesses of all sizes, how can you maintain calm and help your team carry on?
Here are four ways you can support each other to get through these uncertain times – and emerge on the other side of the crisis stronger than ever.
Keep calm and make a plan
If there has ever been a time for fast and effective decision making, it’s now. Your employees are looking to you for direction, but if there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to make them feel overwhelmed, it’s a knee-jerk reaction from management in response to a poorly thought out plan.
Everyone is craving a sense of security, and wondering what the next few months will hold. On their longlist are questions like: How do I avoid catching coronavirus from our customers? Should I be travelling for work this week? What happens if I need to take extended leave? Will I have a job in three months’ time?
Have your leadership team prepare a well-considered plan that addresses these kinds of questions – even if you don’t yet have all the answers. This will give your team some much-needed predictability, and will help prevent last-minute decisions from having a negative impact on morale.
Offer a human approach
Different people will react to the present situation in different ways – which is why it’s so essential to engage with your employees respectfully, in a way that works for them. Avoid overbearing corporate messaging and overcomplicated policies – communicating on a human level is a must when your team is feeling the pressure.
Empower managers to have honest conversations with their teams about their concerns, and encourage them to communicate any potential impacts on their day-to-day working life, such as hand-washing procedures or travel policies.
Remember, team members with friends and family who fall into the more at-risk categories – such as the immunocompromised or the elderly – may need extra support in the form of carer’s leave, flexibility with shifts or simply a shoulder to lean on. At times like this a little empathy goes a very long way.
Avoid the media hype
Let’s face it, the media loves nothing more than a good crisis, and the volume on all things coronavirus has been turned up to 100. Plenty of the so-called “news” out there is either misleading or simply fake, which can be confusing at the best of times and downright distressing in the face of a global pandemic.
To help maintain a sense of perspective, encourage your team to seek out accurate information from credible sources such as the World Health Organisation. The South African Government and South African Tourism Association websites are other good sources of reliable information, minus the media hype.
Look forward to the good times
It’s human nature that we constantly underestimate ourselves – and research has proven that people have a tendency to overestimate how badly they’ll be affected by negative events, and underestimate how well they’ll cope with and adjust to difficult situations.
By engaging with your employees productively and respectfully throughout the coming months, you’ll help your team get through the short-term pressures of coronavirus, and in the process you’ll build a workforce that is loyal and committed to helping your business succeed in the long term.
You and your team are more resilient than you think – chances are, you’re going emerge from all of this stronger than ever.