Hospitality teams are feeling more confident about safety and the future of the sector, but employers will need to work hard to keep them motivated.
More businesses were able to open as part of the Stage Two easing of lockdown rules last week, which also saw many frontline hospitality workers returning to their roles, for those operators that are able to serve food and drink outdoors, with plenty of team members still furloughed across the country.
Ahead of this stage of wider reopening, CPL Learning and CGA conducted a fresh survey of our Hospitality Professionals, a group of more than 150 frontline hospitality workers in the UK.
The data from this survey panel have provided crucial insights into the thoughts and feelings of hospitality team members around reopening, the future of the sector and their longer-term career prospects, and have helped operators shape communications, support, and training approaches in the lead up to reopening.
In this latest survey, team members reported renewed confidence about safety and the future of the sector, but also revealed important insights into the level of engagement they have had with their employer and their expectations for the future.
The research suggests that the recent developments in the Government’s roadmap planning and early successful progress of the vaccination programme have had a positive effect on team members. Three quarters (78%) said they felt confident about returning to work, with ‘motivated’, ‘excited’ and ‘hopeful’ the three words most used to describe their sentiments.
But while teams are feeling more motivated to return to work, some safety concerns remain, with just over half (54%) admitting to at least a little apprehension about returning and 77% expecting increased focus on hygiene initiatives. The respondents cited mental and physical wellbeing and regular communication from employers as their top short-term priorities, suggesting that many team members would benefit from increased communications and support in the lead-up to reopening.
The survey also revealed how hospitality professionals feel about the level of engagement they have received from their employers, with team members reporting higher levels of satisfaction with support during the latest lockdown (42% very satisfied, up 6 percentage points since October and 22% somewhat satisfied, up 15 percentage points since October). And while this reflects an increase in employee satisfaction, there is still room for improvement. 1 in 6 reported that level of support was worse and 1 in 5 feel that wellbeing was not prioritised. It is worth looking at your organisation’s level of communication and the resources offered to team members and surveying your own teams to identify potential areas of improvement.
And for those employers who have invested in team engagement, the rewards are substantial. Highly engaged team members show greater optimism, feel more confident and have improved opinions of their employer according to the research. In addition, of the highly engaged respondents, more are committed to staying in the industry longer-term which translates into lower churn for employers.
With more easing of restrictions over the coming months, whether your teams are currently working are not, there is still a lot employers can do to engage teams and keep them motivated. In the longer run, employee engagement needs to focus on cultivating the right culture and delivering good learning, development, and career progression strategies with 48% saying they would like to see career progression programmes made available in the future. More than three quarters (78%) of professionals say that they have actively looked for ways to work on their personal or professional development during lockdown, while a third (33%) have felt more motivated to complete courses.
In the short term, 24% of our survey respondents said they would like to see mental health prioritised and 36% want to receive regular communications and updates. The highly engaged professionals in our survey received excellent communication from their employers and were the most confident and committed to the industry, as reported earlier.
Only 2 in 5 respondents felt very satisfied with the learning and development generally provided, so ensuring that you are delivering the right kind of support to engage teams is vital. Our hospitality professionals rated personal development and skills training as the greatest immediate priorities for learning and development.
This research echoes what we have found when engaging with our clients about what kind of reopening support they would like made available, with focus on mental wellbeing and skills training an important part of our Prepped pathway.