Our People

Employee Engagement of Furloughed Employees during a Pandemic

Area of sustainability (i.e. food waste, single use plastics)

Employee Engagement & Community Involvement

What were the objectives of the Social Responsibility or Environmental initiative?

Two objective: 1 - Provide support to our community during the pandemic. 2 - Provide social interactions and engagement for employees, both furloughed and non-furloughed, during the pandemic and quarantine time. This is a time when mental illness can occur such as loneliness and depression.

Project summary

Through the COVID pandemic, we realized that social interactions were essential for our employees to help overcome mental illnesses like depression which evolve during a quarantine time. We provide an outlet for our employees of social interactions while providing support to our community.

Detail of project

In March, the COVD pandemic made a huge impact on hotels within the USA. Our property was impacted and closed on March 13, 2020. Our location employees around 400 employees and their livelihood relied on their employment. As a location, we were able to continue paying our employees 100% of their pay and benefits until we had to furlough them. One group was furloughed on May 3, and the second on May 31. This left a small group of core employees to oversee the maintenance of the facility. Starting in March, our leadership realized how important it was to stay engaged with all of our employees. We recognized in the early stages of quarantining, loneliness and depression could easily set in. We immediately created a communicated strategy to keep in touch and keep our employees informed. This was unprecedented times and no one knew what to expect. This strategy included three main strategies: direct emails, private Facebook group just for employees, and personal monthly one-on-one Zoom calls with every employee. Through this communication, our employees felt their importance, and knew we were transparent on the status of our property. In addition to communications, we recognized our employees would have financial needs during this time and navigating the Texas Unemployment system can be very challenging especially for employees who have never filed for unemployment before, or had technology or language barriers. Our location submitted the unemployment claim for all employees so they did not have to complete this. Then, our team quickly became experts in unemployment and formed relationships with the Unemployment Agency with direct contacts. Our team became the experts and help desk for all employees for all things unemployment related. This circumvented the need for our employees to spend hours and days trying to call the state agency. We were able to resolved many unemployment issues for our employees quickly. In addition to assisting with unemployment, our location was able to financially sustain and continue to pay for our employees health benefits….this was huge for many employees with medical needs. The last strategy was to provide community support through safe social interactions for our employees. This included in person and online methods. Some the community involvement and support included: a sidewalk art contest showcasing drawings that thanks essential workers in the community, social distanced street clean up, employees wrote letters of encouragement for a local senior center, weekly social distanced hikes to ensure employees stayed healthy and fit, a weekly Quarantine Kitchen Facebook live event from the home of one of our Chefs, and assisting our local food pantry with collecting and distributing Thanksgiving meals to the local community. We found that these strategies were very success with our employees. In November 2020, our location was received an award at the #2 of the Top 100 Best Places to Work in the Dallas/Fort Worth area for mid-sized companies.

Stakeholders involved

Our furloughed and non-furloughed employees. Our leadership team. Our local community,

Impact on stakeholders

Everyone received something from this project both employees and the community. The main impact was that our employees continue to stay positive and connected and genuinely feel how much our company cares for them and our community.

Companies or partners who contributed to the project

Benchmark Hospitality - management company. Deloitte - owners of the facility Community Storehouse of Keller - local food pantry

How did the project meet the original objectives and what were the successful outcomes?

The project meet and exceeded the original objectives. The success is in the engagement and spirit of our employees.

How were objectives and outcomes measured?

It is hard to measure how employees feel, we did not conduct a formal survey. However, by winning the #2 Top 100 Workplace award in the midst of the COVID pandemic showed us that our employees appreciate our efforts. This award is based on a employee survey and feedback from our employees.

What you would do differently next time

Not sure we would change anything at this time.

Not sure we would change anything at this time.

Other links to information (Webpage, video links, social media, etc.)

Top 100 Workplace award: https://www.dallasnews.com/business/top-100/2020/11/12/benchmark-hospitality-of-texas/

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