The night-time economy is suffering. Though outdoor sporting facilities and some industries such as construction and manufacturing have been allowed to tentatively reopen, the leisure and hospitality industry remains firmly closed.
Business owners are understandably concerned. Even restaurants and pubs that are able to diversify and offer takeaway services are still experiencing a loss in revenue. The night-time industry is more than ready for the coronavirus pandemic to pass – but the safety of our customers must come first.
The industry is rightly putting customers first. Businesses are finding new and innovative ways to support customers, whilst also trying to generate income. Venues are also coming together to fight injustices from insurers, many of whom are refusing to pay out on valid claims.
But what about supporting employees? Many night-time industry workers have been furloughed by their employers, with the future of their venue often uncertain. This is understandably leading to many workers feeling stressed and anxious about what’s to come. And, even worse, their employers and managers have no definitive answer for them.
Business owners should consider this carefully and take steps to support their team.
The impact of coronavirus on hospitality employees
Office for National Statistics research suggests that pubs, restaurants and hotels have furloughed the largest proportion of workers – up to 80%, which equates to about 2.5 million hospitality workers. This is a huge percentage of workers, and will have a long-lasting impact on the industry. Workers may be hunting for new positions in more stable sectors, or holding out hope that it won’t be too long before the industry can reopen. Many hospitality workers love what they do and are passionate about the night-time industry – they will be championing its return.
There is uncertainty about the future. If and when venues do reopen, there’s bound to be tight restrictions and guidelines in place which could make trading to full capacity impossible. This will lead to a further array of difficult decisions business owners will have to make. Employees are quite rightly concerned and anxious about their future.
You might not have a big update for your team, but it’s important to keep everyone in the loop. If your staff are likely to be furloughed for some time, make sure they are made aware of this. Perhaps you’re looking to ask people to return to work on a part-time basis or, worst case scenario, considering redundancies.
Your employees may not be fully aware of the government support schemes in place and what this will mean for their future. Explain any important updates to your team, for example the new furlough extension and what impact this will have on your business.
Like many businesses, it’s likely you’re planning your big reopening. Social distancing plans will impact your venue and your staff. Remember your team may be nervous about returning to work, and will want to know what measure will be put in place to protect them. Send regular messages or emails informing your team of the latest business updates and what plans you’re putting in place for the future. Transparency and clarity will help your staff feel informed and valued.
Listen to suggestions
Maybe you’ve already considered the possibility of running a takeaway, or packaging up meals to deliver to customers. You might have decided it’s not financially viable to run a collection service for your bar. But your team could have other suggestions, such as offering an online wine or beer tasting to increase awareness of your venue.
Your team may have more spare time than usual, and will be avidly keeping up to date with events and virtual social opportunities. Allow your staff to inspire you.
Don’t forget the little things
The hospitality industry is known for little staff perks, such as free food or drink for the team or staff nights out. Why not organise a virtual staff night out, or send your team a can of beer to let them know you’re still thinking about them? These small gestures of kindness will demonstrate support and care at a time your staff need it most.
You could also point your team in the direction of online exercise classes, wellbeing seminars and much more to take part in together. No doubt your team’s overall wellbeing is suffering, so now’s the time to signpost them to additional help and support.
Supporting the industry, and supporting your employees
Surveys show up to 500,000 hospitality workers are not eligible for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. This is a huge number of employees. The hospitality industry is doing all it can to fight for these staff members and redress the balance. Seasonal workers, new starters or those without a payslip are not eligible, leaving many unemployed and uncertain for their future. Continue to support industry associations. Stay up to date with the latest news, so your team knows you are fighting on their behalf.
Your workers will no doubt be feeling the strain financially. Hospitality workers often rely on extra shifts, tips or service charge to enhance their wage. This is not taken into account as part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Furloughed staff may be getting 80% of their wage on paper. The reality is a lot of employees will be earning far less each month than they would be under normal circumstances. In some cases, employees can earn up to 50% of their overall wage through discretionary bonuses and service charges. This is a huge amount of money to lose.
Most venues aren’t in a position to pick up the slack. But it’s still important to show empathy and understanding for your employees. Show them that you’re fighting for your business and their jobs. Keep up to date with the NTIA’s campaigns and UKHospitality news. Engage with their petitions, surveys and campaigns in order to contribute towards supporting employees and saving the night-time economy.
How are you planning to bounce back after lockdown lifts? Contact us on social media and let us know how you’re supporting your employees.