Professional Comment

Leadership During Lockdown: Keeping Hospitality Employees Motivated Throughout The COVID-19 Crisis

By Dom Kneafsy, The People Pod

The Coronavirus pandemic has presented the biggest challenge to the UK’s economy since the war, but few sectors will have felt it more than the hospitality sector.

With pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants shut and facing uncertain futures, times have never been harder for many businesses. And in this sector boosting morale among teams is also more challenging – most companies aren’t held together by a luxurious corporate head office, while many team members are relied upon to work harder than ever, wearing many different hats throughout the day.

So, how can the hospitality and on-trade sector keep the team on board, boost motivation and help businesses get back on their feet?

In this article we’ll provide some tips on making the most of the situation and keeping employee engagement as high as possible during an extremely difficult time for all.

Your emotions are infectious

As an employer and leader, your employees will likely look to you for emotional cues. So it’s important that your emotions are positive and motivational as much as possible.

After all, you’ll likely have employees in one of two camps: those who are still working and having to put in more effort than ever; and those who are furloughed and are worried about their career prospects, as well as feeling disengaged and isolated from their team.

Your responsibility is to both sets of employees. Both need your support and need motivating. So make sure you are regularly speaking to everyone as a company, making use of video technology to schedule short, but frequent, catch-up sessions.

Inspire your team and communicate with passion, energy and reassurance. Remind them daily of the small victories that are occurring both inside and outside of the business, and keep them focused on the important role they play in keeping the company running.

But remember, the emotions you visibly display will catch on. As difficult as it is to control your anxiety and concern for the current situation and the future, if you want to ensure your team remains motivated, try and remain positive and inspiring.
How are you motivating your team?

There are several behaviours that are associated with highly effective and motivating virtual team leadership.

1.Re-envision – during lockdown a new culture will develop, new ways of working will emerge and there will be shifts in virtual team dynamics. This is an opportunity to build upon relationships, overhaul processes and keep focused on how some of these unexpected new ways of working can benefit you in the future.

2.Build trust – look for new ways to spark team spirit – show that you truly care about their wellbeing by checking in with them regularly and organising social events for the team. There are plenty of resources and creative ideas available online and shared on social media for having fun together remotely. Show you trust the staff by giving them new and different responsibilities for taking the business forward, and be transparent about what is happening throughout the company – from top to bottom.

3.Empower team members – there’s going to be a lot of independence within virtual teams, which makes finding ways to delegate extremely important for success. To ensure accountability, set up a good system for monitoring progress but avoid micro-management.
Perhaps now is the perfect time to get those junior members of staff trained up and plug those skills gaps you’ve been worried about.

Recognise and reward

Your employees are your company’s most valuable resource and it’s a simple human need to want to feel valued. When an employee is recognised and rewarded for their hard work, it can have a huge impact on productivity levels.

It’s not about rewarding somebody every hour, it’s simply acknowledging the right effort, behaviours and achievements during lockdown.

Rewarding your team and recognising great work is important to boost staff morale, instil confidence in their work, contribute to a great working environment and retain top talent way beyond lockdown.

Now more than ever our staff need to feel valued and motivated. Not only that, but now more than ever your company needs an engaged workforce to help you get out the other side of this huge challenge.

Are you doing enough as a leader to make that happen?