2020 has been a year of uncertainty and instability for everyone. Conflicting information and varying opinions about the data provided have emotions high throughout our society. The food service industry has experienced irreparable damage from the COVID-19 pandemic and the struggle continues. It is exciting for a restaurant when their local government lifts some of the operating restrictions and the natural response is to follow the new set of guidelines and expand services to begin the financial healing process. There is no denying that this healing needs to begin sooner than later if many businesses want to survive. The tricky part to the reopening process is balance. How do you balance the need to service your guests and keeping your staff employed with keeping everyone safe?
The danger here, particularly when we talk about emotions and opinions, is sending the message to your team that making money is more important than keeping them safe. Even though that is not likely the case, perception is a funny thing. If you're not requiring your patrons to wear masks for example, how likely is it that your $12 an hour (or less) staff is going to feel that leaning over in front of them to bus a table is worth the risk? You can ask your team to be careful outside of work and help them understand that their social interactions can affect their coworkers at work. The problem is, that right after that, you need to ask them to pass hors d' oeuvres in a small crowd of strangers that aren't taking any precautions.
Being comfortable at work is a touchy thing for many people right now and as leaders, we have the power to adjust the comfort level of our teams at the same time as healing our bottom line. Will we never be able to take 100% of the risk of infection away from the workplace? Absolutely not. Nobody believes that. The truth is that many of our team members will become infected at some point regardless of how diligent we are with our policies. But when it happens, we should have no trouble showing that we did everything in our power to put their safety first. We took guest temperatures at the door and required face masks. We gave the staff face shields to wear over their face masks if they desired an extra layer of protection. We added sneeze guards or extra spacing barriers at event action stations to force proper distancing.
Once you have these measures in place, communicate them to your staff and ask them how they feel about it. Solicit feedback from them so they feel they had a voice in managing their own safety. We need to be very aware of the fact that the comfort level and confidence of our people is going to play a major part in our ability to serve. Without them, we cannot.
For more ideas on effective communication and how to manage the emotions of your team go to www.bebettercp.com and contact us today!