united we stand

Five ways to support your staff during the Coronavirus crisis

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Five ways to support your staff during the Coronavirus crisis

Related tags: Coronavirus, UnitedWeStand, Staff, Safety, Restaurant, delivery

Many operators have wrestled with the implications of asking staff to continue working during the Coronavirus crisis, but there are ways you can support them and try to keep them safe.

Give staff the option to work or not
Coronavirus poses a grave threat to all of us, particularly to those who are in, or live with someone in an at risk group. So it’s right to offer staff the choice as to whether they want to continue leaving their house regularly to attend work while this situation is ongoing. This was one of the key points made by healthy fast food chain Leon, which announced earlier this week that it would continue to keep its sites open to customers where NHS teams and other essential workers still rely on its services. The group explained to its staff members that none of them should work if they don’t wish to do so. “Whatever each team member decides, we support them in their choice of whether to work or not. If they choose to remain at home, we are assisting them in accessing the Government furlough scheme,” it said in a statement. 

Encourage staff that are working to take precautions when journeying to work
While public transport continues to operate, in many areas the services have been reduced, which means for those unable to journey into work by car, the risk of coming into contact with others is enhanced. The Athenian, which is continuing to operate as a delivery-only outfit at some sites in the capital and in Bristol, has introduced a ‘walk to work’ scheme to try and encourage staff to not use public transport. Every member of staff that chooses to continue working will be paid an hour extra in order to give them time to walk or cycle to work, rather than risk travelling on a crowded tube trains or buses. 

Introduce extra safety measures to support staff in the workplace
It goes without saying that making sure your teams remain safe while in the workplace should be of paramount importance. Speaking to BigHospitality ​recently, chef Adam Byatt - who has repurposed his Bistro Union restaurant in Clapham as Union Stores, offering a selection of groceries available to buy in store or for delivery in the local area - says he has ensured those who have volunteered to man the store are working in a reduced team in order to allow for suitable social distancing, and also that they are only allowing one customer into the store at a time. Neo Christodoulou, co-founder of The Athenian, is also working with reduced teams for the same reason, and, like Byatt, has made sure staff have access to PPE (personal protective equipment) while at work.

Ensure delivery practises don’t put staff at risk
It’s important to ensure working as a takeaway/delivery operation doesn’t put your staff at greater risk. Christodoulou says that all Athenian sites still operating have designated drop off areas where delivery drivers can collect food packages without having to come into direct contact with team members. All major delivery platforms have also recently announced they are now offering a no contact drop-off service to customers in order to reduce the need for contact.

Support your staff outside the workplace
The risk and uncertainty caused by the Coronavirus crisis is causing huge amounts of stress for both employers and employees, so its important to try and look out for one another. Neo Christodoulou says he is working to ensure all his staff, whether they choose to continue working or not, are supported as much as possible during the Coronavirus crisis by offering each team member a weekly parcel of ‘basic necessities’ including feta pastry; lentils; tomatoes; tomato paste; pasta; olive oil; lettuce; and toilet roll. 

Useful links
- For more details on the Government’s job retention furlough scheme, click here​.
- To read out 12 steps to looking after your mental health, as either an employer or employee, click here​. 
- To find out more about the guidance offered by the Government to food businesses still operating, click here​.

#UnitedWeStand has been created by William Reed hospitality titles BigHospitality, Restaurant magazine and Morning Advertiser and is supported by Arla Pro, McCain and Unilever Food Solutions.

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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