COVID-19 has altered the way we live our lives, and with the world fighting a pandemic, most organisations have had to make tough decisions to survive. As a result, many in the hospitality industry have been forced to get creative with takeaway and delivery services, with some expanding their offerings to include other products and services; while some have had to enter a period of hibernation and stand down their team.

Now with the federal government sharing its three-stage roadmap to recovery with a focus on jumpstarting the economy by July 2020, the question isn’t “When can it be done?” it is “How can it be done in a manner that mitigates the risk of a resurgence, protects the most vulnerable in our society, and doesn’t overwhelm our healthcare system?”

This particular return to work may be different from anything you’ve ever experienced. The complexities are many, as organisations take a phased approach in returning to work while also attempting to re-grow their market share and outpace expenses. Right now, preparing your workforce for these scenarios is probably the most important decision leaders need to make, and your employees play a critical role in this journey.

Here are a few factors to contemplate in the return to this new normal:

  1. Manage Employee Numbers. Plan a staggered approach. In the realm of hospitality and food services, create groups across functional lines to ensure coverage across roles, while supporting employee distancing. Use this time to leverage rostering software to deploy rosters quickly and easily, so that staff can access them online or through a mobile app, when and where it’s convenient for them.
  2. Embrace training and development. Invest in your people. When adapting with a reduced workforce, consider additional staffing and training needs, to ensure all the support is in place. Use this time to empower your people to up-skill and cross-skill, with learning tools that accommodate different styles and formats.
  3. Support business continuity by preparing for people changes through succession planning. Be flexible. By reinforcing your support for workers in their skills and career growth with learning plans and progress tracking, not only do you see improved morale and higher levels of engagement, but it also leaves you prepared for future vacancies and turnover.
  4. Ensure Constant Communication from the Top. It’s never enough! While it is a cliché to say you can never over-communicate; at this time, communication is an absolute essential. During moments of uncertainty like this, it is critical to bringing your people along on a mutual journey to let them know where things stand and where things might be headed.

Ultimately, be open to suggestions and feedback from all levels, whether it’s a junior worker, a manager, or a customer. Be prepared to amend processes, because to get through this, there will have to be a lot of changes and adjustments. We need to jumpstart the economy and get employees to return to work. At the same time, it should be non-negotiable that all organisations adopt plans that return people safely, intelligently and with integrity.

Stephen Moore is Head of Asia Pacific Japan at Ceridian. He is responsible for all customer operations, empowering people and organisations to work together more efficiently and employing business insights more effectively to stay ahead of the competition.