These are extraordinary times…and there is no reference book to guide us out from the happenings of the day. Around the whole wide world, travel activities have stopped, flights have been cancelled; borders are closed-land, sea and air and most hotels are empty. Society’s new normal includes observing a ban on public gatherings, social distance protocols, wearing of face masks, washing hands under running water more frequently than we have ever done, sanitizing the hands and avoiding touching the face! The cause? An outbreak of a virus identified as COVID-19 alias corona virus.
In Ghana, beginning particularly from the month of March, Covid-19 triggered a new crisis; businesses grinding to a halt and within the hospitality sector, believed to be the worst hit, ‘someone’ must bear the brunt.
Employees continue to be extremely anxious in the face of compulsory indefinite unpaid leaves, lay-offs, salary cuts and termination of jobs.
The ‘big hotels’ are not immune to these challenges caused by the pandemic.
A business needs to have a source of revenue to pay its bills, invoices, employees, carry out its projects etc. Customers support this. Without revenue, no business can hire or support employees. Somehow, some seem to think our hotels can maintain employees with little to no revenue and stay in business!
Do our hotels, restaurants and the many hospitality related businesses dotted around our country have a choice? Personal emotions have to be set aside for the sake of commercial viability. So, we have observed some drastic measures being taken by many hotels to keep their heads above the waters; lay- offs, terminations, pay cuts seem inevitable. Yet when Ohemaa, (representing just one of thousands of hotel workers), a hotel restaurant supervisor and a mother of three, received her termination letter she was taken by surprise. These are the hard realities in our industry today.
For many hotel personnel, there is great uncertainty to the continuity of their jobs. What are their choices?
Without employees, there is no hospitality service. We (employees and employers) all know this; the ‘big guys’ in the system, ‘the Kempinski’, ‘the Movenpick’ and ‘the Marriot’, to mention a few. They understand this, so efforts to keep their employees on board is their biggest business threat. They have invested in the training of the staff and letting go of talents and skills sharpened through training is not an easy option.
The hotel industry in Ghana seems fragile, but what responsibilities do employers and employees owe to each other in the face of the pandemic?
In this series which follows in subsequent weeks, HR professionals will help us address some salient labor issues addressing the many unspoken questions of many hotel employees.