Speaking with Hotel News Now as part of our “Pandemic Reflections” series, Joanna Kurowska, managing director for the United Kingdom and Ireland at IHG Hotels & Resorts, said one huge learning point from the past three years was how team members responded affirmatively to initiatives that sought to reassure, help and care.
She said the notion the “new workforce” needed help and reassurance, or access to it, was a profound change that required requesting personal information and then delivering on those needs.
“If I think of how we have changed in terms of this intangible exchange of information and exchange of emotions between one and another in the working environment. … It comes from simply knowing more about each other and having this curiosity, and also the permission to ask those questions.”
Kurowska added she was sympathetic toward the new generation of staff that came into the hotel industry in the months before the pandemic started and even after it started.
“I can only be empathetic about imagining entering a workforce in the world where you didn’t start from the personal relationship. … If you started only on a screen, how unusual and inhuman this experience must have been,” she said.
She added there are positives stemming out of a shared crisis, however bleak it was at the time.
“An experience like this creates a bond that is unique. It will be subject of stories, the subject of us sitting around the fireplace and reminiscing about how it was. It also creates a bond of trust and a bond of shared history and memory,” she said, adding that during the creation of new layers to relationships many deals and much branding was being done.
She also said those years taught her to remain grounded.
“The reality is that the [present] is not easy … that put pressure on owners and the return on their businesses. None of it has eased,” she said.
Listen below for our full conversation with Joanna Kurowska.