Unless you’ve just come out of hibernation for the winter, most of us are now fully aware of the global concern of the Coronavirus. No matter the belief on how severe this strand of the flu is, as business operators at Valor Hospitality Partners we must ensure we are preparing for the worst, with the hope that our preparations will all be for naught.
With that said, here are some very helpful tips on preparation and prevention. We encourage everyone to review this information with your hotel teams so that everyone is equipped to handle questions, concerns or potential inquiries on this subject.
How to Maintain Operations During a Pandemic
As an employer, we understand that we have an important role in protecting employee health and safety, while limiting the impact of an influenza pandemic. It is important to work with community planners to integrate your pandemic plan into local and state planning, particularly if your operations are part of the nation’s critical infrastructure or key resources. Integration with local community planners will allow you to access resources and information promptly to maintain operations and keep your employees safe.
Here are procedures to follow during an outbreak:
- Prepare a plan for operations with a reduced work force.
- Work with your suppliers to ensure that you can continue to operate and provide services.
- Develop a sick leave policy that does not penalize sick employees, thereby encouraging employees who have influenza-related symptoms (e.g., fever, headache, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle aches, or upset stomach) to stay home so that they do not infect other employees. Recognize that employees with ill family members may need to stay home to care for them.
- Identify business-essential positions and people required to sustain business-necessary functions and operations. Prepare to cross-train or develop ways to function in the absence of these positions. It is recommended that employers train three or more employees to be able to sustain business-necessary functions and operations and communicate the expectation for available employees to perform these functions if needed during a pandemic.
- Plan for downsizing services but also anticipate any scenario which may require a surge in your services.
- Stockpile items such as soap, tissue, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies and recommended personal protective equipment. When stockpiling items, be aware of each product’s shelf life and storage conditions (e.g., avoid areas that are damp or have temperature extremes) and incorporate product rotation (e.g., consume oldest supplies first) into your stockpile management program.
- Organize and identify a central team of people or focal point to serve as a communication source so that your employees and customers can have accurate information during the crisis.
A few additional notes to point out:
– Perception is reality. If a guest or team member “feels” like we either do not respond to their inquiry on the virus correctly, or if we do not have the appropriate supplies to manage a potential situation, then the damage is done, no matter how severe.
– Please ensure that you all have medical masks on hand for anyone that should request one. While these may be a hot commodity now given the concerns surrounding this virus, please place orders for them as a precautionary measure.
– Ensure additional hand sanitizer stations are readily available in high traffic areas. Again, the perception that we are prepared and overly-cautious will go a long way with guests and team members.
-Encourage your team members to wash hands regularly, not just after restroom use or other “typical” scenarios. Regularly washing hands before eating and upon arrival to work or after being out in the public will go a long way.
– Have plenty of sanitizing wipes on hand for offices and other locations where keyboards, phones, mice, etc. are shared between team members and guests. While it may be unsightly, having a canister of wipes at your business center desk is a good idea.
– Be sure your gym wipes in your fitness centers and your hand soap and hand sanitizers in your public restrooms are adequately stocked, and your par levels on these items are kept full for replenishment.
Please keep in mind, that apart from the masks and gloves, these tips are typical “flu season musts” to follow to prevent the spread of germs:
1) NO HANDSHAKING! Use a fist bump, slight bow, elbow bump, etc.
2) Use ONLY your knuckle to touch light switches. elevator buttons, etc.. Lift the gasoline dispenser with a paper towel or use a disposable glove.
3) Open doors with your closed fist or hip – do not grasp the handle with your hand, unless there is no other way to open the door. Especially important on bathroom and post office/commercial doors.
4) Use disinfectant wipes at the stores when they are available, including wiping the handle and child seat in grocery carts.
5) Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds and/or use a greater than 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer whenever you return home from ANY activity that involves locations where other people have been.
6) Keep a bottle of sanitizer available at each of your home’s entrances. AND in your car for use after getting gas or touching other contaminated objects when you can’t immediately wash your hands.
7) If possible, cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow only if you have to. The clothing on your elbow will contain infectious virus that can be passed on for up to a week or more!
Ultimately, preparation is the key to mitigating loss. Our team at Valor Hospitality Partners encourages every hospitality industry professional to develop a documented contingency plan that can quickly be implemented, should business levels require it.