The hospitality industry, which prior to the COVID-19 virus accounted for more than 10% of worldwide GDP, has been faced with an unprecedented set of challenges affecting businesses' bottom lines, company culture, and health and safety concerns. According to data from Sterling, hiring in the hospitality industry was down 87% from March to April. Recently, our data is showing the industry is gaining traction with an increase in hiring of 200% from April to July.
The pandemic has forced the hospitality industry to band together during this difficult time. This, as well as the industry’s impressive display of adaptation, will allow it to continue recovering and normalizing. Maintaining a “people first” mentality and preserving a culture of trust and safety will help to ensure a positive trajectory.
To learn how you can adapt your re-opening strategy to build a foundation of trust and safety in the workplace, read our tips below:
Maximize safety with employee COVID-19 testing
At its core, hospitality is a relationship business. Restaurants, hotels, and travel handle a large volume of person-to-person interactions causing COVID-19 to bring additional attention to employee health in the workplace. This has created the need for precautions including requesting employees to take measures such as self-reporting symptoms, requiring employees to wash hands, and enforcing spaced seating in common areas helps to maintain a safe environment for your employees and guests.
To maximize safety, your organization can consider offering COVID-19 virus testing to employees as part of your overarching safety program. This test determines whether an employee has the active virus and potentially poses a risk of infecting others. This test can be run on your workforce prior to returning to the workplace, to help identify those who may pose a direct threat to the safety of your other employees, clients, and business.
There are many variations of tech-enabled COVID-19 testing options - including at-home, in-person, and bulk testing - that can be used in a program to coordinate, administer, and oversee your testing in a compliant manner.
Additional on-site testing such as temperature checks and wellness questionnaires can be administered in combination.
The role of identity verification and background checks in protecting the workforce
In addition to COVID-19 testing, identity verifications and background checks can help maximize safety and trust throughout your establishment by providing further insight into employees and candidates.
How do you know your candidate is who they say they are? Just as people can lie on their resumes and falsify their personal information, people can also lie about their identity. One way to know if a person is truthful about their identity is through identity verification. Consider using this type of verification early in the hiring process given the volume of hires in the hospitality industry and the high turnover rate, to avoid investing your time interviewing someone without confirmation of their identity. Advanced technology can be used to match an individual’s face with a photo from their ID. All the candidate must do is use their phone to take a selfie and a picture of a government document.
After you verify identity, a background check will delve deeper into the candidate's work experience, qualifications, possible criminal history, and other historical records. Criminal history checks are especially important to run in an industry with close customer interactions. Ultimately, thorough background checks help companies vet candidates in order to find the best person for the job who reflects company values.
Safety and the use of new technologies
Technology can also be used to minimize human-to-human contact, maximize cleanliness, and trace social interactions. According to the Journal of Hospitality Marketing and Management, the majority of restaurant customers (65%) and hotel customers (70%) believe that great use of technology in the service industry will be necessary as we move further into the 21st Century. Things such as keyless entries, QR codes, digital payments, and contact tracing can help maximize safety in your establishment. For example, to further minimize contact, guests can use voice control technology on elevators or adjust to hotel room settings. Technology can even allow a guest to reserve car parking in advance for an overall seamless and safe experience.
Staying agile by putting people first
The Coronavirus forever changed the hospitality industry. Initiatives such as COVID testing, background checks, identity verifications, and contact tracing are designed to protect your most important assets, your customers and employees, as we stay agile to evolving challenges. As you continue your re-opening strategy, your focus on putting people first should extend to all touchpoints – ultimately creating an environment of trust and safety for your employees, customers, partners, communities, brand and reputation.
About the Author
Ken Schnee is the General Manager the Technology, Media, Entertainment, and Hospitality group of of Sterling, a leading provider of background and identity services. With over 10 years of experience in the talent industry, he brings extensive expertise in sales, operations, and technological innovation. Prior to his current role, Ken held several leadership posts at Sterling, including Reginal Director of Sales, Vice President of Solution Consulting, and Head of Client Operations.
Previously, Ken led enterprise efforts at Talentwise, where he achieved over 40% year-over-year growth until the company was acquired by Sterling in 2015.
Ken earned his BS degree in Business Managerial Economics from the State University of New York at Oneonta.