Keep talking: Top tips on communicating
during times of uncertainty
The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced the hospitality industry into a new and unknown landscape. In these uncertain times, with circumstances changing regularly, it’s not surprising that employees and colleagues may be feeling uneasy.
Jill Whittaker, Managing Director of HIT Training, the UK’s largest training and apprenticeships provider in the hospitality sector, offers her top tips on communicating with teams:
In a recent survey, we found that found that 44% of young workers in the hospitality sector believe better communication amongst the workforce would improve the industry1, and it goes without saying that in this ever-changing landscape, effective communication is more important than ever. Here are a few ways that you can continue to share insight, knowledge and updates with colleagues, and keep the conversation flowing during times of uncertainty.
1. Provide regular updates
Take a structured approach to your communications to keep up momentum and provide your workforce with the knowledge and answers they are craving. A timely method means that your team know when to expect the next update – avoiding a potential torrent of questions you might not have time to answer. This can be achieved with weekly web meetings, email updates, or direct line manager conversations with individual team members. You could even create an information point on your website and social networks to share links to helpful resources.
2. Create a crisis unit
It’s important your team know who to turn to if they have any questions. Develop and circulate a document amongst the workforce that includes the contact information of all key managers or heads of department who are informed of any updates. This way, you will be able to keep the conversation flowing both ways. Leaders and managers should remain available and approachable for employees to ask questions and voice their worries, and employees should be given the freedom to come forward to ask questions.
3. Consider your tone
These are difficult times for everyone, so it’s essential to consider your tone of voice throughout all communications. Although necessary to remain formal and informative, your team are looking for reassurance — taking an open tone, with genuine emotion will give your communications a human-element. Always conclude with a message of hope for the future.
4. Prepare for different scenarios
Nobody knows how the current situation will play out, so prepare ahead for different scenarios so you can keep your communication regular and timely. This can be done by predicting various outcomes and pre-drafting messaging that can be tweaked easily. Thinking ahead will also prepare you for any questions that may arise from team members on your business’ stance on different situations.
5. Maintain an open dialogue
Although it’s necessary to keep your colleagues informed of key updates, you may not always have the answers to questions immediately. If there’s a burning question that needs addressing, be up front and let them know you will come back to them. Honesty strengthens relationships between team members by building a feeling of trust and openness.
In addition to this, while it’s vital that employees are kept well informed about what’s changing, it’s equally important that they know what’s continuing or being maintained, such as scheduled meetings, set working hours, training and development.
6. Remember to share good news
When we’re all working together, positive updates tend to spread like wildfire. Encourage your colleagues to stay social and share positive personal stories, this means that everyone can continue to feel upbeat and part of a team.
The hospitality industry is built on outstanding teamwork and collaboration. In these unprecedented times, it has been inspiring to see the industry adapt, change, and encourage each other. As the industry starts to open up again and return to the ‘new normal’, good communication and supportive behaviour is more important than ever.
1: HIT Training and Censuswide, February 2020 (502 people aged 16-24 who work in hospitality)