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Rapid Recovery Series: Session #6 – Rebuilding Your Workforce

As restrictions ease and restaurants reopen, getting your staff back in and working will be paramount to your success. As uncertainty around safety is among a few concerns that many foodservice employees have, how can operators ensure that staff is not just able to get back into action, but also want to? Additionally, how can they ensure that staff feels secure and safe with their decision and confident and motivated to continue their career in hospitality?

This is the pivotal question for Session #6: Rebuilding Your Workforce, presented by BDO. This panel consisted of presentations by Kerry Graydon-Tsang, Manager – People Advisory at BDO, Angela Donnelly, Founder of Corethentic, Terry Weir, Senior Consultant at Thomas International, and Chef Kyla Tuori, Corporate Chef for Unilever Foodsolutions North America and Fair Kitchens ambassador. 

Read on for the top highlights from this session and find the entire session recording as well as the downloadable presentation deck here. You can access all recordings for the Rapid Recovery Series here.

Keeping staff safe 

As operators begin to prepare for reopening (or even if they’ve already reopened), they should review their HR policy and update it to ensure that employees are protected and kept safe.

“Safe staff are engaged staff,” says Kerry Graydon-Tsang. Once policies are put in place, reinforcement of these policies becomes the next step. Communicate the policies to staff, whether through posters, in meetings, or one-on-one and once policies are in place – follow up to see if they are effective for all, for some, or for no one. If policies aren’t effective for all, they won’t be followed. Terry also outlines they guiding principles for success:

  • Lead with empathy 
  • Agility is not an option, it’s a necessity 
  • Follow the 200% rule to ensure accountability, this means not only should staff follow policies for themselves, but encourage those around them to do so as well
  • 360 feedback 

Leadership & trust 

Angela Donnelly outlined two key ways to “unlock willingness”: alignment with the goals and objectives of the organization and a good relationship to the direct manager. 

Upon reopening, it’s time to ask yourself: Do you have the right managers and leaders in place to unlock commitment, loyalty, and willingness of your staff? 

According to Angela, the right managers: listen to staff, are approachable, fair, honest, and experienced. She identifies two themes in this list: care and growth. These themes in turn, are the motivation that staff needs to remain engaged in the workplace. 

In an industry like foodservice, that can be seen as transient, and with the added pressure of post-lockdown ‘new normal’, having the right managers in place is the key to making sure that your employees don’t just stay with you, but thrive in their position.

Mental wellness

The COVID-19 pandemic affected us all in a number of ways and the foodservice industry felt it deeply not just financially but mentally as well. Isolation, financial insecurity, and lack of coping mechanisms were just some of the effects reported.

Upon reopening, operators should be aware of, and support the mental wellness of their employees. Chef Kyla Tuori of Fair Kitchens explains that management should look for signs that someone in their operation is struggling. “They need to be available, share, and take initiative,” she elaborates.

A positive team environment is paramount for reopening. Encourage employees to connect as a team, share their experiences and management needs to communicate what measures are in place to ensure safety in order to ease anxiety.

Furthermore, workplaces need to have a support system and tools in place to navigate these tricky times. Have digital resources readily available and accessible to employees, and schedule regular mental wellness check-ins.

Rapid Recovery Series Articles:

Session #1: COVID-19 Impact and Industry Outlook

Session #2: Opening Your Doors to a Safer Future

Session #3: What’s Your Post-COVID Profit Model?

Session #4: Navigating Landlord and Tenant Agreements

Session #5: Driving Online Revenue

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