New employee relationships emerge as hotels resume hiring

Through communications with its clients and third-party partners, financial technology company DailyPay has released findings on how hiring has resumed at industries across the country as businesses learn how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After April’s precipitous employment drops, hiring in the U.S. hospitality sector grew 15 percent during the three-week period from May 11 to May 31, compared to 20 percent in quick-service restaurants, 23 percent in supermarkets and 24 percent in caregiver industries. 

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DailyPay, which develops software to integrate with payroll and time-management systems for companies like Westgate Resorts, 21c Museum Hotels and Arbor Lodging, has been looking at how businesses fared starting when the downturn began. “How quickly were they reducing hours for their employees?” said Jeanniey Mullen, chief innovation officer at DailyPay. “If you've typically worked eight-hour shifts where you have an hourly role, you're now working six hours or four hours. And then, even more importantly, what were the reductions for the overall staff?”  

For the hospitality industry, said Mullen, everything “fell off a cliff” quickly, with hours and employees cut as occupancy and revenue plummeted. But as the rates of infection slowed and some states and cities began planning to reopen, hotels started bringing workers back and extending hours. “We started to see a 5 percent return-to-work percentage three weeks ago,” Mullen said. “Two weeks ago, we started to see double-digit growth for hospitality and hotels.” The following week also brought double-digit growth. “So we're seeing that it is more of a full-time resurgence happening, and we're expecting over the next three weeks to see, just like it fell off the cliff, to see what they call ‘hockey stick growth,’ to see a spike right back up and come back into almost full-swing.” 

Hotels, said Mullen, have been conducting financial analyses of past performance to determine best practices upon reopening. “We see a lot of preparation,” she said, noting that hotels often partner with other businesses like parking companies and foodservice providers, so a downturn in one sector can hurt another easily, and cooperation among numerous segments is necessary. “There's a lot of behind-the-scenes administrative work that has to come into play,” she said. 

Rebuilding Relationships

At the height of the outbreak, some essential workers across a range of industries were able to secure hazard or hero pay. With more workers coming back online, the paychecks may now go back to what they were before the pandemic hit. Similarly, some furloughed workers returning to their jobs may find they were making more on unemployment. “Every company needs to relook at what they're paying their employees and make decisions that match what the market needs are and what the employees’ financial needs are and see how they can make it work for everybody,” Mullen said. 

As the country adjusts to new normals, workers’ expectations of their employers have changed, Mullen said. “In addition to COVID[-19], you've got a new generation of workers ... who are very accustomed to experiential treatment and to looking to employers as actual leaders,” Mullen said. In the post-COVID economy, employees will expect their employers to lead them in three distinct ways: “The first is in their personal safety,” she said. “The first is in their personal safety,” she said. “Many people are afraid to return to the workplace and start interacting with people.” With that in mind, employers will need to demonstrate how they will protect their workers as well as consumers through social distancing and personal protective equipment.

The second way employers can lead is with financial security. When a significant portion of a team has been laid off or had hours cut, Mullen said, employees may feel uncertain about returning to work. “Will I be working for a few months? Are you going to restructure or are you going to have layoffs? So employers really need to take the lead role and show how there’s that financial security, not just in offering flexible work hours or potentially increases in base salary or even daily pay—that's not going to be enough. It's going to take a lot to re-establish that trust and make people feel secure that their jobs are not going to be eliminated or that when fall hits, if there's a resurgence in cases, they're not going to be financially impacted again.” 

The third way is leading socially. “We're seeing employees really look to employers to support their social needs,” Mullen said. This can be supporting a workplace with employee resource groups, leveraging additional communication or simply emphasizing the value of the employees themselves. “All eyes are going to be on leadership to really pull together a consolidated message—something that really shows a lot of care for the employees and a lot of compassion.”