All catering locations closed in March. Everything seems to open again on 1 September - almost six months later. What challenges and concerns does this pose for an HR manager? We speak to Monique Bruininck, Manager HR manager of CIRFOOD.
At first I - and many with me - were baffled. It is bizarre what can change in a short time, you have never experienced anything like it before. Our parent company is Italian; so we saw closely what happened in Italy and what the impact was of the lockdown there. We quickly accepted the situation - what else can you do - and we all put our shoulders to the wheel to leave all our locations tidy. I thought it was nice to see that there was such a great sense of togetherness to finish everything in a few days before everything locked. The resilience of our people made me proud during that period. In the world of catering, the moment you welcome a new customer, you also take over the catering staff who worked in the catering for that organization. On April 1, just a group of 63 employees started, despite Corona we managed to welcome every new employee to the CIRFOOD family.
Luckily not. Our big advantage is that we have a strip card at Fan Factory, which means that during the year we can call in help for employability, training employees or simply sparring together. I also notice that there is a great need to start working at the locations again. We want to manage this together with colleagues and our customers. If we can do what we are good at again, we want to be ready for it again, which means that we also invest in new employees. How do you deal with educating people during this period? Training where physical presence is required is postponed. On the other hand, we are now very active in developing a training offer that can also be followed online. We are now developing training courses that are made available online, some also with a trainer online, so that people can start at home. We have also brought the free training courses that the SVH offers to our people together with the SVH; this is also widely used.
Our location managers speak to their people relatively often. If one can do something, one would like to do this. Locations are visited and maintained and cared for every week, in case we can open again later. But this is not comparable to the pre-Corona period. Throughout this situation, our employees are often focused on their home situation or their immediate (family) environment. And not with their work. That sometimes worries me. Time passes and the world around us changes. And that will also change for them when they are allowed to work at the locations again. I imagine this raises questions, "What will our work look like from September 1? How do all government regulations deal? Do I have to work with a mask on, and with gloves on? "So mostly practical questions, to which we often do not yet have an answer.
Our employees naturally look to us at the head office to answer these questions, which makes sense!
From HR we try to provide our managers with the right tools and to inform the employees as well as possible and to prepare them for "the new world" when the locations are allowed to open again. The only problem is that the new world has not yet crystallized for us either.
The Fan Scan showed that our people are especially attached to their working environment and colleagues. They feel good about it and are proud of it. As an organization, we mainly want to respond to this by making short films and mini e-learning. Employees are eager to be with colleagues again, but ignorance of the situation can hinder motivation. That is why we need to remove as much uncertainty as possible and explain step by step what is going to change. If we communicate well and provide people with information, I am sure that we are ready for the openings of the locations and in good spirits to receive our guests again.
Communicate frequently about what is changing and do this in detail. What are we doing as an organization? Where are we going? When you go to work, what will you find? What do we expect from you during start-up? How do we shape the service and what role do our employees play in this?
We do not want to leave room for ambiguity, but we want to give space to our colleagues to receive our customers hospitably again at the locations in the “new world”.