Connecting With Your Team During COVID

Communication best practices that can help you stay connected to your team, regardless of their employment status

A staggering eight million restaurant employees are out of work as of April 15. Sixty-seven percent of restaurants furloughed their employees and 22% conducted layoffs. As the states begin to mount comeback strategies, it is critically important to keep the lines of communication open with the team members that you intend to bring back. 

We’ve seen examples of great communications on social media and HotSchedules messaging and training tools. Here are a few heart-warming stories:

The team at Krystal, a fast-food restaurant chain headquartered in Georgia, was forced to close in-store dining, shorten store hours, and temporarily reduce their staff as a result of the shelter in place order. Richard Fletcher, Krystal Director of Training and Talent Development, shared a few ways in which they adjusted:

  •  The Training team created COVID-specific academies in the Krystal e-learning platform, Schoox, to train and track learning on increased safety measures. Fletcher also mentioned uploading videos on ‘how to create masks’ for personal use. 
  •  With every day comes a new set of legislative changes. The Krystal team committed to sending recurring company-wide messages in order to share operational changes, wellness checks, and even highlighting team members who have given back to the communities they serve by donating food.
  •  With a vast generational range, it was important to maintain connected with all employees. “We created graduation-themed content to keep displaced Gen X team members engaged. We want to celebrate these milestones with them,” Fletcher shared.

An anonymous reddit user posted on popular restaurant thread /TalesFromYourServer, “Can I just give a shout out to my GM? She’s been sending out email blasts about free toilet paper, paper towels, dry goods available at the restaurant.” The manager also connected with displaced team members to make sure they knew how to file for unemployment. While the user didn’t personally need any of this help, their manager emailed them personally just to see how they were doing since they hadn’t heard a response. “I honestly teared up a little bit that she cared so much. Long story short, those little things mean a lot right now. Reach out to someone if you have the opportunity”.

“Long story short, those little things mean a lot right now. Reach out to someone if you have the opportunity”. – Anonymous Reddit user

Regardless of their employment status, managers continue to use HotSchedules messaging and preload features to check in on their people, do wellness checks, and keep them posted on their efforts to get back on track. Here are some best practices to keep in mind for maintaining a strong connection with your team.

Appoint a social ambassador – While you might be minding your brand channels, you should make sure that someone on your team has the other bases covered. Instagram channels such as Server life and Reddit boards like TalesFromYourServer are popular for sharing stories about restaurant life. 

Share charitable contributions – The April Harris Poll indicated that 9/10 Americans favor brands who are giving back during the crisis. Over 80% believe that keeping employees safe should be a top priority. It’s key that you market not only your plans to keep customers safe but your employees as well.

Maintain the 1:1– Reach out directly as often as you can. Even if you don’t have an update, check in on your people, do a wellness check, and share resources for how they can get assistance.

Keep it mobile – Remember that a lot of your team members probably don’t check in on a computer. Make sure your messages are accessible and optimized for mobile devices.

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