As mask requirements become more widespread, hotels that require guests to wear masks in public spaces should provide the necessary training and support for employees dealing with upset guests.
We’re seeing spikes in the number of coronavirus cases in several states as well as less severe but still increasing numbers in other states. Some states are slowing down their reopenings, even having certain businesses close again.
There’s a growing number of businesses requiring customers to wear masks while they shop, dine or otherwise use their services. That requirement comes from either the business itself or a government regulation. Regardless of what’s implementing these mask rules, those who have to enforce the rules are likely front-line employees, who played no part in making the decision.
If you currently have such a requirement of guests in public spaces or end up implementing one in the future, please remember your employees will be the ones dealing with any guest upset about wearing a mask. Just like with other policies that guests don’t like, employees will bear the brunt of their anger and frustration.
Too many people don’t like wearing masks or don’t believe they work to protect others from COVID-19. What should be a simple health precaution has unnecessarily turned into a political fight. You can easily find videos online of how quickly people opposed to wearing masks are outraged when told they have to wear a mask to enter a store. Perhaps they are outliers and the only videos we see are of these confrontations and there are countless others where the person simply walks away, but the videos at least prove these situations happen.
Give your on-property employees the training they need to handle these situations. If they haven’t gone through it already, give them training in appropriate de-escalation techniques to try to prevent a heated argument from starting. Let them know exactly what they are empowered to do in various situations in which a guest doesn’t want to wear a mask. Instruct them on how to act and what to say if they are recorded on video. Make sure management is on the same page and will be there to back up the employees. Don’t leave them to handle these situations on their own without any guidance.
Make resources available to support your employees after dealing with an upset guest. Depending on how bad it was, an employee might need to take a short or extended break to calm down. Have someone, either on the hotel team or a third party, available for the employee to talk to if they need to just walk through the encounter. Management should absolutely talk with the employee about what happened and go over what went well, what didn’t and what should be done differently if/when it happens again, but having a trusted person the employee can speak with just to unload in a safe environment could be helpful. Talk with your HR departments about what other resources could help, too.
Yes, this might make operations more expensive or complicated, at least in the short term, but these are your employees. Their work supports your business. They deserve support as well. Currently being on unemployment is a better deal for many people in the U.S., and while those extra benefits are set to expire at the end of the month, there’s the possibility those benefits will be extended. Taking these extra steps could help your hotels be a more welcoming place because it would show how much you care about their wellbeing.
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