How can the hospitality industry rally round those who feel their prospects have been dashed by COVID?
The hospitality industry has been through its fair share of challenges and changes which it’s adapted to and overcome. This is largely due to the passion, skill and determination of those who work within it.
It’s safe to say that the recent Coronavirus pandemic is one of the most significant challenges hospitality – and virtually all industries – have faced.
If we think of a life pre-COVID-19, which for many seems like a lifetime ago, hospitality operators were working hard to combat the negative connotations the industry has battled against for many years, by encouraging people to take up a career in this vibrant and rewarding industry.
Now, due to the events of recent months, the focus has shifted to survival and getting back to some sense of normality. While we may never go back to how society was before the pandemic, it’s crucial that the innovation and flexibility we’ve seen this year continues to flourish. This will help to tackle issues that were present before COVID-19 hit, such as the skills shortage and improving perceptions of careers in the industry.
Supporting the younger generation
For many young people in 2020, their future career plans have been put into question. One in four believe their career prospects have been damaged by the Coronavirus crisis – and for those just starting out in hospitality, there’s a sense of concern around, not only their job security, but that of the industry as a whole.
As such, it‘s now more important than ever to support the younger generation of hospitality professionals, and those struggling to find the right career path, to ensure a happy, healthy and vibrant workforce now and in the future.
One of the most effective ways to help employees feel secure and happy in their role is by investing in their development.
At the moment, when time is more precious than ever and there are extra pressures for establishments to overcome, this can feel like an impossible task and something that sits at the bottom of the priorities list.
However, implementing a few simple policies and initiatives to provide training support within the workplace can have a significant impact, not just on the younger generation but the entire workforce.
Setting up a mentoring scheme
One way to do this, is by setting up a mentoring scheme across your business. This is something that all levels can get involved in by pairing up employees with a mentor who’s in a role they aspire to work in.
The role of the mentor is to provide ongoing support by checking in with their mentee, providing advice or a listening ear when needed and taking time to talk them through different aspects of their role, which may help their mentee to progress. A mentoring programme shouldn’t be a formal schedule of meetings and reviews, it’s more of an ad-hoc scheme that benefits both the mentor and mentee.
Having someone within the workplace that you can turn to with any questions or concerns not only improves skills development, it also helps to ensure employees’ mental wellbeing is being looked after.
Before COVID-19, research from the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) found that mental health and wellbeing was under significant strain amongst hospitality employees, with 84% reporting increased stress as a result of their job. With the global pandemic causing a substantial alteration to our working and personal lives, there needs to be a greater focus on mental health issues within the industry.
Promoting positive mental health and wellbeing
To help combat this, educating the workforce on mental health issues and awareness is key. Not only can it make people more aware, but also helps employees to feel supported during this difficult time and highlights the supportive nature of the industry.
Again, this doesn’t need to be a big investment for employers, either financially or timewise. To help the sector work safely post COVID-19, there have been a number of different resources created specifically tailored to hospitality professionals.
For example, at HIT Training, we’ve launched a suite of complementary courses for all apprentices, one of which is a Level 1 qualification in Awareness of First Aid for Mental Health. This short course is available online and is free for all our apprentices. We’re also offering two individuals from any business or organisation within the industry to attend the training for free, as it’s such an important issue.
As the industry looks to rebuild itself following the pandemic, we need to invest in both our employees’ career progression and their mental health and wellbeing more than ever. This will ensure they have the skills needed to help the industry to recover after being closed for months, be prepared for the new world of work, and also help to reassure those who are concerned about their future career prospects.
Investing in our workforce and providing development opportunities for them will help to see the industry flourish and make strides in changing the negative perceptions of careers in the industry, therefore helping to tackle that ever present skills shortage.
For more information on HIT Training’s online training courses, including the Awareness of First Aid for Mental Health, please visit: https://hittraining.co.uk/courses
[1https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/Document_News_YPIL.pdf">Young People in Lockdown, May 2020
 RSPH, Service With(out) a Smile, May 2019