How to review staff structure in a tourism business in response to crisis
Staff are one of the primary assets of a tourism business, and they can be very understanding when it comes to getting the business back on track. But hard decisions may still need to be made in terms of reducing staff numbers or hours. These are some of the questions you will need to ask yourself when considering how to restructure your staff in response to a crisis.
- Can you retain or broaden the existing mix of skills in your business?
- Can any critical skills be outsourced to contractors, rather than retaining permanent staff?
- Will training be required if remaining staff are asked to take on broader responsibilities, and how would that be delivered?
- What type of staff should be retained – assistants, ideas people, customer focused or money earners for the business?
Before staff are retrenched, ask yourself:
- Can employees be invited to take any accrued leave entitlements while crisis is ongoing?
- Can staff members be asked to take unpaid leave, or full-time workers to work part time?
- Can staff employment arrangements be changed to a contracting relationship? But there must be genuine prospects and intent for contracted staff to attain other work
- Can you negotiate with other local businesses to employ your staff on a temporary basis? But this can have legal and practical complications if the job requirements differ substantially from those at your business.
Financial support available to tourism sector workers in Canada during the COVID-19 crisis
Many tourism employers across Canada are finding themselves with no option but to radically curtail their staff costs to respond to the COVID-19 lockdown and the ceasing of most tourism activity. A number of programs at both federal and provincial level are seeking to channel financial support to Canadian workers, either directly or by providing support to employers to help keep them on payroll. Where applicable, you should make your employees aware of these schemes and support them in making an application.
- The BC Emergency Benefit for Workers, which provides a one-off $1,000 payment to BC residents whose ability to work has been affected by COVID-19
- The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which gives temporary income support to workers who have stopped working and are without employment or self-employment income due to COVID-19
- The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), which encourages employers to keep existing employees on payroll – if possible, working – and re-hire previously laid-off employees. It gives a subsidy of 75% of wages up to $847/week.
The Canada Summer Jobs Program, which provides eligible employers who have already applied with up to 100% reimbursement of the provincial minimum hourly wage for each employee
More detail on these schemes is provided here.
How to manage recruitment during a hiring freeze
Few companies, particularly in the tourism sector, are looking to hire during the COVID-19 pandemic, with control of staff costs much higher on the agenda. But those responsible for recruitment in larger tourism SMEs can use the hiring freeze as an opportunity to streamline and improve their candidate search and hiring processes for when recruitment re-starts. Here are some steps to consider:
Nurture your brand as an employer. This is what makes your company stand out as a place to work – whether candidates decide to apply for an open role, and whether they accept or decline a job offer. And employees tend to stick with companies they respect.
- For candidates:
a. Maintain and personalize your candidate-facing content on your social media and careers page; ensure it is appealing and up to date
b. Review and update content such as job ads and email templates – ensure they are inclusive, easy to customize and convey a strong and positive sense of your company
- For employees:
a. Review employee benefits – is there anything that would make them more productive and give a greater sense of wellbeing? Consider introducing mental health benefits or more generous parental leave systems
b. Review rewards and appraisals – which work well, and which need tweaks? Is your bonus package appropriate and fair? Adjust how you conduct performance reviews, moving them to more than once per year and providing systematic feedback
Improve your hiring process. Use the ‘frozen’ time to fix process gaps.
- Look at recruiting metrics e.g. Google Analytics to inspect variables like time to hire, cost per hire, source of hire and acceptance rates and identify potential bottlenecks or causes of candidates dropping out. Look at ways to improve the candidate experience
- Look into recruiting technology and automation to freshen up recruiting process
Prepare for future openings. Work with your team to define what skills and roles your company will need down the line. Grow your talent pool by monitoring potential new candidates via LinkedIn or Twitter. Optimize job ads using search engine optimization for better visibility.