Lost in the Crisis: Mental Well-Being of Travel and Tourism Staff

The focus on business survival during this unusual crisis has overshadowed a critical issue – namely the mental state of travel and tourism workers and professionals as they endure job security fears. and the stress of a tough business environment.

  • Mental well-being of neglected staff as businesses struggle to survive
  • The stress of job insecurity, loss of colleagues and company performance can impact all grades
  • Solutions include frequent conversations, workouts, fitness activities

The focus on business survival during this unusual crisis has overshadowed a critical issue – namely the mental state of travel and tourism workers and professionals as they endure job security fears. and the stress of a tough business environment.

Andrew Chan, Founder and CEO of ACI HR Solutions, said TTG Asia that insufficient attention is paid to managing the mental state of staff, and the risk that companies fail to do so is the price to pay of compromised productivity.

However, Chan acknowledged that focusing on the mental well-being of staff was a difficult thing to do as travel and tourism companies find themselves in “an unusual situation which is best described as the SARS crisis and GFC ( the 2007-2009 global financial crisis) in one ”.

“Business leaders are constantly hit with bad news on a daily basis, and it’s a tough time right now to be CEO, CFO and HR Director. Every company scrambles and does their best to avoid layoffs and minimize pay cuts while monitoring results. As you can imagine, the mental well-being of staff may not be a high priority for an organization right now, ”Chan said.

But as companies work on the human resources aspect of their coping strategy, starting with eliminating 2019 leave to enforcing unpaid leave and “making wage sacrifices,” Chan said. said staff would realize that a dismissal decision could be next on the cards.

He explained that the experience of this process is stressful for employees at all levels.

“I’m particularly worried about middle managers. CEOs, CFOs certainly have their stress, but the middle management staff who manage a team are often the messenger. If they haven’t been through GFC before, they haven’t had the experience of entrenchment. When they suddenly get direction from the main office to, say, choose 50% of their team to drop out, the pressure of that task is going to be immense, ”Chan explained.

He added that psychiatric care must be provided to displaced staff as well as to those who have been able to keep their jobs.

“Those who are not made redundant see colleagues with whom they have worked for years, even decades, being made redundant. It is a heavy burden for them. This then affects the productivity of the organization, as those who remain may have to do the work of two or three people in a stressful environment, ”Chan said.

Chan: neglecting the mental well-being of staff compromises productivity

Prescription for heart and mind
When asked what companies should do to help staff cope mentally, Chan said it could be a simple gesture to check out how they are feeling.

Chan also suggested sending staff for training to keep them busy and maintain a positive mindset as work goes down, and to provide transitional support for displaced staff so they don’t feel lost.

“Many displaced employees have not had to apply for a job for a very long time and may not even have an up-to-date CV. They may not even remember what a job interview looks like. So, an organization should consider providing this support to its displaced employees – to show them what needs to be done when they apply for a job, how long the process is likely to take, and to help them set mini-goals towards which they can work, ”Chan said.

“Unfortunately, I see a lot of companies just saying, ‘We’re so sorry, here is your severance package, good luck.’

As the crisis worsens, Chan said organizations may need to “bring in professionals to guide them” in providing mental care.

“In a few months, we could witness real tragedies. Recently, the German Minister of Health committed suicide under the great stress of having to face this health crisis. That’s how intense the pressure is, ”Chan warned.

Concrete example: X-trekkers Adventure Consultant
When Khamisah Salamat, a product specialist at active Singapore-based travel agency X-trekkers Adventure Consultant, found out that her employer had chosen to send her to a series of courses during the crisis, a huge burden was lifted. from his shoulders.

Khamisah has been enrolled in nine courses, covering workplace first aid, use of Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint programs, digital applications, service innovations and more.

“I started my fifth class on Monday (April 6). These courses have been so enriching. But nothing beats knowing that my employer is investing in my personal development during this difficult time, and it helps me to lift my spirits and morale, ”she noted, adding that through the courses, she was able to make new friends who are potential customers. for the return of travelers’ confidence.

Yeo Ching Khee, Founder and Director of X-trekkers Adventure Consultant, said TTG Asia that Khamisah will also be assured of continuing to work as the courses are subsidized by the government on the condition that the staff remain on the payroll for the next six months.

“This crisis is likely to be long and we need to find ways to think and act positively,” Yeo said.

Example: Accor
As the world’s largest hotel operator employing more than 150,000 people in Asia-Pacific – half of the company’s global operations at 300,000 – Accor takes a serious stance on staff well-being. Several conscious programs and outlets that support mental, physical and emotional well-being are available to its employees.

“At a time when our industry and our group are going through an unprecedented crisis, taking care of the physical and mental well-being of our employees is more important than ever,” commented Gaynor Reid, Vice President of Communications & CSR, Asia-Pacific , Accor.

Accor’s work in this area “is a step towards enabling our employees to cope with an increasingly stressful world,” said Reid, adding that emotional well-being is still stigmatized.

In various regions of Asia-Pacific, such as Australia and India, Accor has set up 24-hour helplines to help employees get through dark and stressful times.

In Australia, physical and mental well-being is supported through a partnership with Lifeworks which produced the new Lifeworks – Total Wellbeing app as well as various online resources, such as free fitness programs for periods of time. self-isolation and Covid-19 webinars on emotional well-being. and Talking to your children about Covid-19.

Accor Academy in Greater China runs a Keeping a Positive Mindset program to restore hope and boost the morale of its employees.

In India, Accor’s Employee Wellness and Assistance Program helps employees stay calm under pressure, better prepare to deal with difficult situations and relationships, and help them resolve personal / professional issues.

In Thailand, Accor’s Corporate Wellness Program offers team members daily fitness challenges and asks them to record their participation on video, which is then posted on a closed Heartists Facebook group. The program was particularly helpful in keeping the team spirit and the team moving during the ongoing lockdown.

These programs are in addition to the company’s recent decision to establish a € 70 million (US $ 76 million) ALL Heartist fund to help its most vulnerable staff, partners and medical workers affected by Covid. -19.

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