During this crisis, how well you connect to your active and furloughed employees will define your culture for years.
It will make the difference between having a bonded and enthusiastic workforce rather than one that feels bitter and neglected – and then looks elsewhere for employment.
The people who run to-go and delivery in your restaurants have never thought of themselves as essential workers before.
Now they rightly identify as both.
Treat them as such.
Our people leave their families every day, worrying on their way to your restaurants about their spouses left behind to homeschool their kids – the ones who have not been out of the house, yard, or neighborhood for weeks.
Or concerned about parents they can only wave to through outside windows.
When they get to work they do their jobs differently than they used to, a challenge on its own even without a pandemic.
Every day, they risk becoming sick through interacting with guests and coworkers.
After all, in a working kitchen there is no “social distance.” At least not yet.
You can’t maintain social distance providing hospitality and handing a guest a to-go order.
And, if your people become sick, then what? Go home? To get their families sick?
Two Managers on the Edge
In the past week I have dealt with two client managers who ordinarily are the epitome of dependable, consistent, and level-headed people.
The stress had both of them on the verge of losing it.
And the best we could do for them was acknowledge the stress, give them options about whether they wanted to continue working, appreciate them, thank them, and remind them about the temporary nature of all this.
But what about you? What do you do now?
Appreciate Your Current Employees
Your people are the heroes in the trenches who show the world what being “all in” means.
They paid attention when Jeff Bezos came to Dallas last week and thanked staff as he visited an Amazon fulfillment center and a Whole Foods.
Do this every day. In pre-shift and during the shifts. When they come in and when they leave.
If you work mostly from home or can’t be in all your units in one day, let them see your reassuring face on Zoom, FaceTime, or Skype.
Send them a video message.
Let them know how you feel.
Ask how they feel and how their families are holding up.
When your dining rooms get back to being full, or when your government money comes in, find a way to acknowledge them financially for taking risks.
Don’t Forget Your Furloughed Employees
Every week, communicate with your people on furlough. Remind them you think about them and trust their families remain safe.
Offer help if their state and federal unemployment has not started.
And any other help they need.
Make sure they know they still occupy an important part of your company; after all, they have not been fired, just furloughed.
And keep them up to date as the situation evolves.
Be certain they know you plan for them to come back to work – you just don’t know when.
This is what people need from you now.
And, when you triumphantly reopen your dining rooms – doing this might be the difference between either getting most of your team back together or having to slog through the arduous process of hiring and training a bunch of new people while also preparing to reopen operations.
If you want to talk about how the COVID-19 virus is impacting your business, please schedule a free call with me and I will help you.