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Workforce Management as Hospitality Reopens: Health & Safety, Schedules, Automation & More

In states where hotels and restaurants have begun to expand operations, a great emphasis has been placed on guest safety in the hopes that guests will return to their favorite lunch and vacation spots. But guests are only half of the equation. 

Of equal importance is the safety of employees, and organizations are taking a stand to ensure that employees are safe. One example: Recently, the Hotel Council of San Francisco, the California Hotel and Lodging Association and the American Hotel & Lodging Association filed a lawsuit to overturn the County of San Francisco's Healthy Buildings ordinance, alleging that it “endangers the health of hotel employees by mandating increased contacts with guests, and it fails to align with widely recognized federal and state infectious disease experts health guidelines for hotels.”

The good news is that there are many technologies available to help hotel and restaurant brands keep their staff members safe. Here is a small sample of the types of technologies currently available and examples of how some hotels and restaurants are using them to effectively manage their workforce.

Businesses can download the ADP Time Kiosk App to their own tablet device where they can enable facial recognition for identification and voice commands for starting/ending shifts or taking a break. 


Scheduling employees and clocking staff members in and out is one of many areas that can benefit from a technology update. How so? Being able to manage shifts via mobile app prevents employees from making unnecessary trips to their workplace just to view their schedule, says OpenSimSim. Meanwhile, managers can use the app to make schedule changes and approve timecards, ensuring they spend less time using communal back office computers. And when at work, employees can clock in and out of shifts by using their own mobile device. This reduces the risk of spreading viruses among staff by eliminating a communal clock-in system. 

ADP  has also come up with a replacement for traditional time clocks. Businesses can download the ADP Time Kiosk App to their own tablet device where they can enable facial recognition for identification and voice commands for starting/ending shifts or taking a break. 

Both OpenSimSim and ADP have found a way to attach health questionnaires (and temperature readings in the case of OpenSimSim) to its clock in/out technology. OpenSimSim even allows managers to track which employees have completed their required COVID-19 training, and rules can be implemented to ensure only those who have completed the requisite training can be scheduled. 

ADP’s scheduling solutions can be used to stagger shifts, offering multiple shift start, break and end times, to reduce employee traffic and exposure. And its analytics and insights functionality can be used to spot trends in employee absences, possibly allowing management to catch and outbreak sooner than they may otherwise.

OpenSimSim also helps employees stay up-to-date on required hygiene practices and government regulations via in-app messaging, which includes a read function so managers know if their post has been read. And if an employee falls ill, managers can create time off requests for the required isolation period. These requests will automatically unassign the ill employee from all of his or her shifts during this period. To find a replacement worker, managers can view up-to-date employee availability right in the app.

HotSchedules, now powered by Fourth, provides end-to-end technology and services for the restaurant and hospitality industries. It offers an array of workforce management systems, including scheduling, training, payroll, and onboarding, plus effective inventory management, including procurement and even recipes, menus, and nutrition. Its inventory and workforce management solutions, coupled with its data and analytics suite, give operators actionable insights to control costs, scale profitability, improve employee engagement, and maintain compliance. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, HotSchedules recently released a Health Survey in-app tool that prompts employees to answer a series of health-screening questions in accordance with CDC guidelines before showing up for a shift, allowing operators to make informed safety determinations in advance of employees arriving on site. The Health Survey offers secure and confidential storage of data and is available at no additional cost to existing HotSchedules customers. 


Both hotels and restaurants might also consider implementing a mobile tipping technology to help keep employees safe both during and after the pandemic. Money has a fairly dirty reputation as is, but the pandemic has brought that fact into the limelight. 

“In light of COVID-19, it is now clear that the general public are going to be highly averse to using cash going forward. This means that hospitality staff are at considerable risk of losing a critically important element of their take home pay,” says Adrian Harris, Founder, thankU.

Plus, as society increasingly moves in a cashless direction, mobile tipping could be an appropriate solution with long-term benefits.

thankU users download a mobile app to their phone and then hold their phone near a thankU badge to provide a digital tip.

Plus, as society increasingly moves in a cashless direction, mobile tipping could be an appropriate solution with long-term benefits.

According to Elle Rustique, CEO & Founder of TipBrightly.io, staff members benefit from mobile tipping because it allows employees to gain and recover the lost opportunity for tip-based earnings which also leads to increased morale among staff members. But it also enables management to gain insights from data analytics generated by tip transactions. 

Nicolas Cassis, founder of eTip Inc., also points out that mobile tipping is great for audit compliance and managing employee performance.

“When it comes to audit compliance, restaurants and hotels can now track employee tips to ensure that they are complying with tip regulations set by the IRS,” Cassis states. “And through customer ratings and reviews, restaurants and hotels can manage their employees and the performance of their locations.”

So how does it work?

For TipBrightly.io and eTip Inc. users, the company creates unique QR codes which can be assigned to an individual employee, a team, a location, or event. These QR codes can then be placed anywhere the business likes: a  hotel room, concierge desk, or the valet stand. A customer scans the QR code, enters the tip, and leaves feedback. No mobile app is required, and the customer can pay however they prefer: credit card, Google Pay or Apple Pay.

“Once set up, TipBrightly.io worked immediately and smoothly. For guests and staff alike, It’s plug and play — the QR code works seamlessly and is easy for guests to understand and we could see the Stripe transactions immediately. Our servers and housekeeping staff really appreciate receiving tips from our lodge guests who increasingly travel without cash,” says Jess Wilson, Highland Center General Manager.

The thankU mobile tipping system though is a little different. It requires that customers download the thankU mobile app to their phone. Then when they wish to tip an employee, they open the app and hold their phone near a thankU badge which can be worn (like a wristband or cuff button) or displayed. The badge contains a wafer thin NFC microchip.

“A thankU tipping transaction feels pretty much like using Apple Pay at the grocery store, but you are just holding your phone to this smart little thankU badge, not an expensive payment terminal,” says Harris. 

Restaurants and hotels also have the option of offering staff access to a mobile tipping program such the DCR Strategies Inc. | TruCash platform. Employees receive their tips loaded to a unique mobile wallet automatically, which helps reduce the risk associated with handling cash each night. Then, once loaded onto their wallet, staff can use the companion mobile app to load funds onto a prepaid card, to pay bills directly from the app or to make e-transfers directly to their bank account. 

The Laundry Rooms, a property management company that provides extended-stay accommodations for guests with the feel of a hotel, utilizes TruCash payment solutions for payroll and gratuity disbursements for its staff. 

“Working with Mews property management systems and their partner solutions, along with TruCash, we are able to provide a touch-free and cashless end-to-end solution,” says Matthew Opferkuch, CEO, The Laundry Rooms.


Taking employee temperatures before allowing them to come into work has quickly become a standard health safety protocol implemented by both hotels and restaurants. Concord Hospitality is one such brand carrying out this procedure.

Daily temperature checks are conducted when associates enter the property,” says Dean Wendel, Vice President of Food and Beverage at Concord Hospitality. “If a fever is determined, they are sent home. Vendors and delivery persons are scanned as well before they are allowed to enter the premises. Any sick associates are instructed to stay home.”

Samsung kiosks display use a red light/green light symbol to alert guests to their temperature.

Recognizing the need for a way to implement temperature screening as efficiently and cost effectively as possible, many companies have developed innovative solutions. For example, Safe Space Scan Technologies offers employers an automatic, non-contact free-standing infrared scanner that is FCC-certified and can scan for both elevated temperatures and mask compliance in less than one second. Those without masks and/or with an elevated body temperature will receive an audio alert, while notifying the business or building management of the occurrence. Typical locations for the scanner include building entrances, security desks, and elevators. 

Samsung Electronics America partnered with Palmer Digital Group to introduce a temperature screening kiosk. The kiosk uses a simple red and green light stop/go system with green conveying a safe temperature and entry while red conveys the opposite. 

@Work by Achu Health sends staff members a daily health check-in notification to their phone.


A mobile app health questionnaire can be essential to daily operations. Fernando Mateo, VP of Operations of NYC-based Zona de Cuba, approached Datapult, a technology and wellness developer, for an app that would monitor his restaurant employees’ health so that he could better serve his customers and keep his employees safe in the wake of coronavirus. @Work by Achu Health was developed to do just that. Users receive a daily health check-in push notification on their phone, employees input their symptoms, if they are experiencing any, or note that they are feeling well enough to work. These reports are sent directly to the employer, where they can then communicate with any symptomatic employee and coordinate whether they should come in or not.

“We are very happy with the @Work technology,” Mateo says. “Our employees feel safer and more comfortable at work, and it gives us more control of our schedule because we know in advance if someone is not coming in. The dashboard is mobile friendly and easy to use. This is the extra layer of protection we were looking for in the time of COVID.”

Harri also launched a COVID-19 Employee Health Check Platform which allows managers to gather an employee’s health symptoms, prior to starting their shift, by following a pre-built COVID-19 health questionnaire and logging an employees temperature. Based on the answers supplied and the employee’s temperature reading, the system will alert the manager to whether the employee passed or failed the health check. 

QDOBA is also requiring that its employees fill out a pre-shift questionnaire to help screen for symptoms. The fast-casual Mexican restaurant chain has restaurant managers screen employees as they arrive to work and has partnered with OpsAnalitica to log and track employee responses.

Meanwhile Hard Rock Casinos and Hotels is using Redeapp’s HealthePassport in a variety of ways to keep staff members safe. When it comes to employee health screening, HealthePassport asks employees prior to their shift to input four safety actions into the portal, including symptoms, body temperatures, self-health declarations and health tests such as antibody tests.

QDOBA uses an eLearning program that is multi-modal to help improve retention rates among employees.


Staff training in new protocols has never been more vital. Multimedia Plus, a training and communications technology platform used by the retail and hospitality industry, said in its study, titled: “The Surprising Spending: Retail & Hospitality COVID-19 Impact Survey,” that 75% of respondents said employee training was their highest priority initiative.

Choice Hotels has an entire platform dedicated to training called Choice University (ChoiceU). And it was able to put the platform to excellent use when the pandemic hit. It developed additional learning content including the Disaster Recovery Website, Revenue Management training and Commitment to Clean Education Hub. As a result of the company’s quick adaptation, ChoiceU.com has seen record-breaking franchisee engagement on these modules, with more than 36,000 completions to date.

Concord Hospitality was also quick to educate employees. 

According to Dean Wendel, Vice President of Food and Beverage at Concord Hospitality, all associates have been given specific training on sanitation, handwashing techniques and personal hygiene procedures. Additionally, the company has its own COVID-19 training video that it ensures associates watch.

CitizenM has also created online training tools which cover not only health and safety (such as special in-depth training for all housekeeping staff on the use of disinfectants and methods for surface cleaning) but also supporting behavior, including how to deal with heightened levels of anxiety, both in staff and in others around them, says Michael Levie, COO, citizenM.

Meanwhile, on the restaurant side, QDOBA is using Articulate Rise, an eLearning platform, to build and distribute training courses to its frontline staff members. By using eLearning, the company is able to offer real-time updates to staff and be a one-stop shop for information, says Jesus Alvarez, Senior Manager, Risk & Asset Protection, QDOBA. The technology allows for leader-led training and/or self-paced learning, and the courses are also multi-modal, providing employees with multi-media, visual, auditory and written functionality so as to help increase retention rates. Plus, QDOBA is keeping track of completion rates in order to keep teams accountable.

Swire Hotels uses Beekeeper to communicate with and train staff members.


A large part of labor management revolves around one very “simple” task: effective communication with employees. However, in hospitality, employees are constantly on the move making this simple task not so simple after all. 

In fact, according to Jonathan Erwin, Redeapp CEO, up to 80% of hotel and restaurant workers don’t sit at desks and they rarely have a company email. 

“These frontline hotel and restaurant/delivery workers aren’t sitting at a desk all day long and aren't plugged into email or any of the other platforms that are geared to those who do sit at desks,” Erwin states. “Yet, they need to be communicated with − whether it’s about shifts, new company health guidelines/protocols, or anything else that affects them.”

Mobile apps, however, are helping hospitality businesses overcome this issue. 

Prior to COVID-19, Redeapp was already in use by the hospitality industry as a workflow and business communications platform. During the pandemic, it launched HealthePassport −

a  health management solution − to aggregate several health inputs from employees and integrate contact tracing through a partnership with El Toro. It allows companies to monitor outbreaks, identify at-risk employees and expedite communications between employers, managers and employees which helps keep employees and businesses safe.

Beekeeper also allows managers to communicate with employees via a mobile app, even in the employee’s preferred language. Businesses can target and segment information based on different levels in the organization, enable trainings/quizzes/reminders/tips, and enable immediate access to protocols, guidelines. During the pandemic, Beekeeper released a coronavirus package that allows managers to share updates on the virus, allows staff to ask questions on the virus, provides daily updates from the WHO, and more. It also allows staff to fill out a Symptom Alarm, request sick leave, and request protective equipment. The company has also released a Next Normal package which helps businesses re-educate their workforce as well as re-integrate furloughed workers and communicate about quickly changing regulations.

“We use Beekeeper for training so staff can review the latest hygiene standards and protocols,” says Terry Kwan, Head of People Development, Swire Hotels. “Safety and health information is easy to gloss over, so we try to make it more fun and engaging by posting videos. We also share best practices on room cleanings, acknowledging guests, new guidelines, etc.”