Feedback from staff
Feedback was also embedded into every piece of communication The Landmark made with its colleagues, Forshaw said. Staff were encouraged to ask questions during video calls, and their internal newsletter featured a section for questions and comments. “When we were planning to reopen, we did a lot of training, virtually, and had a lot of opportunities to ask our teams about any concerns around coming back to work,” Forshaw said. “Would it be travel? Would it be childcare responsibilities? Would it be simply going back to work after being off for so long?”
From all these streams, Forshaw and her HR team had access to continuous information from the teams, and ensured that all staff were kept in the loop about plans for the future of The Landmark. Concerns about the safety of returning to work when the hotel reopened were addressed in creative fashion. “We did a live Instagram of all our PPE, masks and visors, arriving at the hotel, to show them what we were doing. We put in a one-way system in the hotel too,” the hotel’s HR lead added. “By doing all these things, the team members could see that we were very serious about their safety and general wellbeing. We found that we didn’t have any team members that didn’t want to come back to work, because of everything we’d communicated and put in place prior to them coming back to work.”
But The Landmark’s focus on staff wellbeing did not start with the pandemic. Long before an emphasis was already placed on looking after the team's financial wellbeing. Alongside regular salary reviews, bosses realised that bolstering benefits packages could improve job satisfaction and allow team members to spend their hard-earned money on the things that really mattered to them. Deals were struck with local merchants, including discounts at hairdressers, so staff could look and feel their best, not just at work, but in their personal lives too. Cobblers also joined in the scheme, providing discounted shoe repairs, and all of the team members have access to free dry cleaning of work uniforms via the hotel’s housekeeping department, thus reducing household bills, to a degree. Forshaw continued: “It’s all these costs that you have because ultimately, you’re going to work. Everyone wants to spend their money on some things in leisure time, so we wanted to reduce the cost of coming to work. We have the focus on financial, so we have our financial advisors come to the hotel so our team members can be advised on different parts of their career and financial planning, whether it’s relating to pensions or mortgages.”
Of course, The Landmark also placed great emphasis on physical health and mental health too. Prior to the first lockdown, fitness classes were introduced during working hours, ranging from dance classes and bootcamps to yoga sessions. The best approach, the hotel felt, was to do lots of different things to connect with as many staff as possible. Mental health first aid courses were introduced, and all staff members were encouraged to complete at least the first stage of the training. “It will help us deal with whatever the future holds, ultimately,” Forshaw explained.
As she describes it: “Mental health became a bigger issue for everyone during the pandemic, and we have to be aware of spotting people who are burning out, and young people who are struggling. I think it’s really going to help our business. Our team members found that the course helped them personally, but a lot also found it helped them look out for signs of others struggling.” And, of course, the skills provided by The Landmark are not just suited towards life in the hospitality sector. Increasingly, feeling in control of one’s mental and physical wellbeing is becoming ever more important, and by investing in the team’s personal lives, workers are embracing the hotel’s ethos and brand even more.