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The COVID-19 experience through the eyes of hospitality workers

You don’t have to look far to find examples of the personal experience of medical staff, nurses and doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic. But these are only a sample of the so-called “front-line” workers who are dealing with the day to day realities of working within this new world with all of it’s challenges.

Hotel workers, housekeepers and aged care staff are just some of the dedicated professionals working within the confines of this new framework of rules and regulations designed to keep us all safe. We wanted to share some personal experiences from our staff who are currently working in “hotel isolation programs” all over Australia.

For me, as an Executive Housekeeper, from the beginning I was a bit worried. But as time passed, I found we just have to be careful and pay attention to details regarding hygiene and keep reminding the staff to make them understand how important it is for them and for others as well. – Executive Housekeeper, ahs hospitality

Since March, more than 63,000 people returning to Australia have been escorted into isolation programs. With hotels now the primary site of supervised lock-downs, it is more important than ever that systems and processes are in place to protect staff and their immediate families alike.

Initially,  there is no doubt,  that being on the frontline caused some anxiety among staff, who whilst thankful to have work in the dwindling economy, were being faced with circumstances they had not been exposed to previously. Luckily, ahs has strong risk management and safety capabilities so policies and processes were swiftly put in place and communicated to front-line workers. ahs engaged an external infection control consultant to endorse the process used.

One room attendant for ahs hospitality commented: “I was concerned about how it would affect our day to day life, worried about my family and worried about how bad it would get.” However, once systems were in place and instructions were clear, confidence started to build. Staff commented that they felt they could handle unexpected situations concerning COVID-19 and guests and that the teams were well informed of what was expected of them.

“I think the business will become better equipped to handle a situation like this. The changes made in procedures for cleaning will probably stay and training will be more involved for new recruits.” – ahs hospitality services Room Attendant

Of course, it’s not just the direct front-line staff who have been dealing with unprecedented challenges, people managers have had to pivot and adapt to constantly changing conditions as well. We spoke to an ahs HR Coordinator about their early experiences:

How did you feel about the COVID-19 challenge in the beginning?

I was not too concerned – I never imagined it would become a pandemic, nor did I anticipate it impacting the world on such a large scale.

How did you feel about the new processes put in place (i.e. training for ahs hospitality staff and/or process implementation for clients)?

I feel confident in saying that ahs promptly executed new, effective processes to ensure the safety of all staff.

At the beginning I had around 800 rooms with isolating guests in my portfolio. Our teams were required to deliver food, linen and amenities to these rooms. Initially stress levels were high as we dealt with fear of the unknown and misinformation from social media. The ahs safety team were offering calm, factual policy and procedures to keep teams safe.  – Operations Manager WA, ahs hospitality.

Unfortunately, the impacts of COVID-19 are continuing to evolve, with over 13 million cases and climbing worldwide. As we look towards the future, we do so with increasing knowledge of what is required to keep both ourselves and our most vulnerable citizens safe. We want to share our appreciation for all the hospitality employees working diligently to follow processes and procedures in order to keep us all safe while we wait in hope for a vaccine.

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