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‘Employee engagement programs need to become one of the foremost priorities’

The Human Resources aspect of the hospitality industry has been dealing with many challenges during the COVID times. One of the major challenges which has emerged during the pandemic is the lack of manpower. Due to the pandemic situation, many employees are leaving the work base or city, and many may not return soon. A shortage of manpower across the global hospitality industry is being witnessed. Asmita Mukherjee spoke with Nihar Mehta, GM – HR, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts to understand the human resource challenges faced by the industry, during COVID times.

‘Employee engagement programs need to become one of the foremost priorities’
Nihar Mehta, GM – HR, Sarovar Hotels & Resorts

While operating in a pandemic stricken environment, Mehta said that hotels should adhere to the safety & COVID protocols. “Hotels should make sure that employees are aware of all the necessary protocols and are trained from time to time on the same factors starting with basic hygiene, safety, sanitizing the workplaces, and how to deal with an emergency situation if an employee or guest is found to be COVID positive. It is also very important in the current situation that hospitality businesses focus on innovating marketing strategies to bring back customers,” he said.

Due to the pandemic, saving costs and boosting productivity, are the two important things that hotels are now focusing on. Mehta advises, “Focus on cost-saving and finding ways so that resources are better utilised during these pandemic times. Ensure that there is an appropriate time management process that employees are adhering to. Encourage multi-skilling for employees. During these times, there will be a lot of opportunities for training of employees and associations with other companies. Employee engagement programs need to become one of the foremost priorities. Allow opportunities for virtual learning and development, online team building sessions, webinars with industry experts, recognition and acknowledgment sessions, etc.”

Mehta thinks that with reduced manpower and increased workloads, companies should encourage employee engagements, training, virtual meetings and other such initiatives to reassure employees that the company cares. “One of the primary steps which companies should focus on is the health and safety of employees. In the current scenario when the world is facing health challenges in terms of COVID and hospitalization etc., there should be greater focus on health,” he added.

Stressing the importance of developing / acquiring new skills to learn for the future scenario Mehta opined, “One of the main strategies for HR is to adapt itself in the current scenario, which has changed the way things are done. Now one of the main tactics is to get people learning on board. Employees have to be brought on board to learn new skills and adapt themselves according to the new way of doing business and functioning.”

There is huge uncertainty about the job security of hospitality professionals, but Mehta is an optimist who believes in the saying, ‘this too shall pass’. “Hospitality professionals may have a slightly slow road ahead considering the current times, but they would have to make the best of the given situation, just like any other field and situation. In the coming times, things will definitely improve and it will be a positive and interesting phase for the industry,” he said.

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