The International Network of Hospitality Consulting Professionals

Like Alice, It’s Time to Pass through the Looking Glass

Robert Gary Dodds
Lewis Carol’s, Alice through the Looking Glass
Lewis Carol’s, Alice through the Looking Glass

When Alice, of Alice in Wonderland, in Lewis Carol’s second book, Alice Through the Looking Glass, began to wonder what the world looked like on the other side of the mirror (What do our job openings and we as employers look like to employees, on the other side we could say). To Alice’s surprise, she could pass through the glass to experience the alternate world on the other side (the one your hourly employees live in, maybe). There she discovered a book of looking-glass poetry she could only read by holding it to the mirror.

  • As hospitality industry leaders, we must reflect on how we managed, engaged, and rewarded our people before Covid.
  • Did we genuinely care for them, reward and motivate them, and provide a workplace environment to make them glad to be at work?
  • Did our leadership treat all with dignity and respect – or not – look in the mirror and honestly answer those questions.

We all expect our employees to do their best and be loyal to us as their employer – but how did they see our loyalty to them during Covid?

Pass through the Looking Glass

See what your Employees See of You

Many in our industry, preeminent global brands, showed loyalty to their employees when the Covid pandemic hit hard. They were the first to lay off or terminate their people too fast and without missing a heartbeat. Other smaller employers did everything feasible to support their employees, often losing their business forever.

Now we frequently see restaurants and fast-food places saying: All positions open –wages start at $18.50/hour, flexible working hours to suit you, now giving, 401K (savings/ pension plan), paid vacation, and health care coverage – plus free meals. (They previously paid $7.50/hour and many restaurants $2.50/hour, expecting employees to make up the difference to the minimum wage from tips, which the federal USA laws appallingly allow!

Focus Forward, Not Backward

Let’s focus on getting it right, slowing down labor turnover, driving an employer of choice image, and attracting and retaining great talent. To do that, simply start with a basic self-audit. When Alice passed through the mirror, she learned that she could only read the poetry (or employee messages) by holding the words up to a mirror. You need to hold up your employee’s statements to a mirror of time passed, and they might include some classics of getting it right, such as offering:

  • Employee Satisfaction & Customer/Guest Satisfaction Surveys: If you have not done one since 2020, do one now. What your guest/clients and employees think of you as to the value you offer them and what they would like -done better by you are critical foundation stones you must lay down afresh before you can rebuild your stable workforce.
  • Conduct a salary and benefits survey. Or buy into the latest one done for your industry, with at least your business’s competitive set.
  • Offer flexible hours, shift work, and days off to your employees to fit their evolving lifestyle, which works exceptionally well with millennials.
  • In the USA, a 29-hour week employment term has to go. Do not hide behind the almost dishonest 29-hour/week hiring term (to avoid Federal laws obliging you to pay primary benefits of savings and health care plans, yet surprise, employing practically 40 hours a week with no overtime).
  • The USA and some European countries hire on “Employment at Will” terms, being able to dump any level employee for any reason at any time with no explanation or remuneration beyond today.
  • Why Perpetuate Either Appalling Employment Behavior as the message you are sending all employees on either of these above terms is that we don’t care about you, we want your loyalty, but we’re not giving you any, nor any sense of security!
  • Conduct leadership performance evaluation. Whether you believe in formal or discussion approaches. Review your latest guest and employee satisfaction surveys first and hold them up to the mirror to read them as you reflect on what your guests/clients, and employees are telling you.
  • Identify what will support each leader to grow in their competencies and skill sets so they
    can lead with greater strength and purpose.
  • Back-of-house, work environment. Are they inviting, wow, and showing every employee how much, you care for them? If not, set to refresh all employee areas, restart employee social and sports calendars and the business’s community outreach programs, and rebuild pride and a sense of giving.
  • Give Your Employees A Clear Message that You Indeed “Do Care” about them. And you will be loyal to them and will earn back the trust they lost in you by constantly being too quick to have laid off  terminate them. Millions lost home ownership and kids their private education.
  • Give Employees A Sense of Longevity, Security, And Safety. Contract on 40-hour weeks, with benefits, or do not employ people.

Robert Gary DoddsRobert Gary Dodds is the Founder and Managing Partner at MG Consulting and a consultant at Cayuga Hospitality Consultants. Gary is an international best practice specialist in Human Resources, Learning & Development within the hospitality industry.  His global background includes living and working in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East & Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America.  Now working with clients on most continents and previously having headed Human Resources in regional and corporate luxury brands worldwide – Gary is well qualified to talk about what best practices he sees and what are, for some, lessons still to be learned.

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