World Panel
Viewpoint13 October 2020

Running out of energy: An underestimated threat to a "people's business"?

Sustainability in Hospitality

— 10 experts shared their view

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This viewpoint was created by
Franziska Altenrath, Co-Founder at TUTAKA
Catherine Dolton
Vice President Global Corporate Responsibility at InterContinental Hotels Group

As we come out of the crisis, the rear-view mirror test on how businesses behaved towards their people during this period will be incredibly important – whether you're working with a company or looking to work for them. For the hospitality industry, there's no getting away from the fact that people are at its heart, and inevitably it's people who have been hugely impacted this year, whether through illness, increased uncertainty and stress, or adjustment in their work and personal lives. One positive outcome from all this is that COVID-19 has helped put the conversation around personal and mental health firmly in the mainstream spotlight, and if you look at how the ESG agenda has evolved over this period, we notice how the emphasis on the 'S' has grown – whether that's tackling social issues, caring for communities, or indeed supporting wellness.

As the pandemic took hold, despite the best collective efforts to protect everyone at IHG, the severity of this crisis led to difficult decisions to furlough or let go of some corporate and hotel colleagues. Many organizations have had to make similarly hard choices, and whilst we couldn't avoid it, for us, it has been so important to help wherever we can. The launch of an IHG JobCentre has provided access to employment opportunities with hiring companies in different markets. We also created a 'Stay In Touch' program, to keep connected with colleagues unable to work, in the hope we can welcome them back as demand returns. And as we've seen many hotels reopen, the provision of guidance, best practice, and toolkits have been key to ensuring colleagues are feeling supported in their adjustment to a “new normal”.

With a move to mass remote working at corporate level, some key things we put in place to support people included regular communication with senior leadership, including calls hosted by our CEO with the whole company. For working parents, an IHG Family Network provides a space to connect and share advice. Recognizing the pressure on those colleagues working, 'recharge days' once a month over the summer also helped to protect time for individuals to use however they wished. 

Moments like Global Mental Health Day, this weekend just has gone, can be an effective way for companies to drive employees to resources and tools that offer help. At IHG, a focus-week of activity offered leader-led podcasts and mindfulness resources and raised awareness on employee networks and access to professional support. With work being such a huge and integrated part of our daily lives, the business has an important role to play in helping people manage their wellness and providing the right support. 

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