With coronavirus cases on the rise, a new lockdown imposed in England and stringent measures in place across the UK, many hospitality businesses are understandably focused on the immediate priorities of protecting the business and preserving jobs

Workforce management expert Bizimply is urging operators to start to also plan seriously for 2021.  CEO Conor Shaw says: “Hospitality businesses have a challenge like no other. It’s now clear that Christmas will almost certainly be a very muted affair for hospitality, and predicting what will or won’t be allowed in the hospitality sector during December is next to impossible

“At this stage, it seems the best approach for operators is to start planning for some relaxation in restrictions from the start of 2021, and to make sure they can implement changes quickly when rules are relaxed or tightened. Employees are rightly concerned, and so reassuring key staff they will still be important to the business is essential.”

Unsurprisingly, the changed hospitality landscape is bad news for sector employees who would normally have been hoping for a seasonal uplift in their hours. ONS figures for the UK show the impact of the first lockdown, with the number of vacancies in the hospitality sector declining by 71.8% year-on-year in the three months from June to August 2020.

Shaw adds: “Now is the time to start planning for 2021, which will enable operators to show staff some light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever trading is allowed, having the right team members working the right shifts is going to be more important than ever.  Business owners, managers and staff will need to be flexible as the situation evolves between now and into the New Year.”

Bizimply’s staff planning guide

  1. Put your GM front of house. At times of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to have the very best GMs running your pubs, bars or restaurants – and to make them highly visible. A strong GM leading their team and interacting with customers provides reassurance that the venue will provide a special experience, while keeping everyone safe.
  1. Plan your rota in advance… 2021 is likely to be different in many ways to past years, at least for the first half of the year, but there will still be a number of familiar patterns to factor in, such as staff members who won’t want to work certain days because of family commitments. So consulting with your team and planning your rota well in advance allows them to manage their work life balance and keeps them motivated in their jobs.
  1. … but build in flexibility. Chances are, the staff rota you carefully draw up will have to be redesigned if any of your team members are impacted by coronavirus, either needing to self-isolate, or caring for children if schools close, for example. Not to mention any further hospitality-specific edicts from government!
  1. Speed up staff rota admin: Bizimply estimates GMs can spend up to six hours a week creating a staff rota using Excel or similar. That’s a chunk of time where they’re not on the shop floor doing what they’re best at – managing the business. So equipping them with good software to produce rotas and payroll should be a priority – especially given that staff scheduling is likely to be more complex than usual this festive season. Giving this time back to GMs is why Bizimply’s solutions were designed: one operator using their software is now creating rotas for 60 team members, across five sites, in just one hour a week.
  1. Monitor your team’s health. Operators need an up-to-date snapshot of their team members’ health and fitness to work. Bizimply’s Attendance Questionnaire allows operators to design their own questionnaire which automatically appears on-screen as staff members log on to Bizimply’s clock in app at the start of their shift. By asking a few questions about known COVID symptoms, employers can be kept informed of any team members who might have the virus and take appropriate action. This simple, daily questioning reassures staff that their employer cares about protecting their health and that of their customers, meaning they feel confident about their working environment, and more motivated to deliver an outstanding customer experience.