• Lesley Anderson

Coping with the Human Resources and Realities of COVID

COVID-19 has brought a wide variety of new and unique challenges to the workplace, including increased customer aggression, heightened job security concerns, mental health challenges, staffing issues, etc. One of our recent Ideas Labs, delivered as part of a series in partnership with the BC Regional Tourism Secretariat, explored the human resource challenges and new human realities impacting tourism businesses from the COVID-19 pandemic.


Five key tips emerging from the presentation by Industry Topic Specialist, HR Manager from True Key Hotels & Resorts, Karina Gaudreau, and the participant discussions on how to support staff through these challenging times are highlighted below:


1. Lead from the top – continuous, honest communication with staff is critical for them to feel supported and cared for. True Key Hotels and Resorts's 97% staff return rate upon re-opening their properties was a testament to the positive impact that regular, personal communication with staff by the CEO and property General Managers had during the crisis.


2. Use a variety of communication channels and one-on-one meetings to engage with staff while they are furloughed / laid off and endeavour to virtually replicate the camaraderie of the work environment. Listen to the staff’s needs and try to support their concerns by pointing them to free, accessible government resources. Affirm and demonstrate your commitment as an employer to their health and safety through your COVID protocols.


3. Provide staff with training on de-escalation techniques to cope with aggressive customer behaviour. Create and enforce customer policies related to abusive behaviour towards staff and don’t be afraid to ‘fire’ customers in situations where needed.


4. Many companies have experienced challenges trying to hire staff back or find sufficient numbers of new staff to support re-opening. Exploring non-traditional hiring channels in non-traditional markets has proven successful for some – e.g. hiring through universities in Saskatchewan and online career fairs.


5. Cross-training staff to be able to handle a number of different roles is a tactic that can help businesses cope with understaffing during this period of uncertainty.


The full session summary can be accessed on the BC Tourism Resiliency Network’s website.

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