Keeping Canada well as we reopen

OTEC’s Joe Baker  says that as we re-open our businesses, let’s not underestimate the impact our workers have on our guests and clients. And let’s not underestimate the toll this pandemic and the return to work has had on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of our workforce. 

When COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in mid-March of 2020, Canadians self-isolated in their homes as much as possible in an effort to contain the spread of the virus. We were quickly asked to modify our routines and postpone anything that was non-essential, especially anything that involved close interactions with others. While this isolation along with social distancing and eventually mask wearing ‘flattened the curve’ quite effectively, it had some unintended consequences.  Not only did hospitality, retail and other service workers start to become recognized as the essential workers we all knew they were; we also started to see an erosion of the overall mental health and wellbeing of Canadians. Isolation, stress and uncertainty combined with the health threats of COVID-19 all started taking a toll on the Canadian psyche.

Could Canada’s Hospitality and Tourism Industry Contribute to Positive Wellbeing?

For those of us who have dedicated our careers to the hospitality and tourism industry, it is not hard to understand how profoundly we impact our guests and clients with our service-centred experiences. But has anyone ever aggregated the total number of service interactions Canada’s tourism industry impresses upon the citizens of our nation and of our visitors?  And did the isolation orders and social distancing expose just how vital hospitality and tourism experiences are for the positive wellbeing of the people we serve?  I believe so. 

The Basics of Emotional Intelligence

Psychologist and author Daniel Goleman defines Emotional Intelligence or EQ as the ability to recognize and manage your own emotions, and those of the people around you. People with high levels of EQ understand what their emotions mean and most importantly understand how they impact those around them. You see why this is becoming so critical for service or businesses under pressure.  And the most attractive part about EQ is that with training, development and guidance, people can improve the 5 key elements of EQ: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.

Incorporating Emotional Intelligence into our Training

As we re-open our businesses, let’s not underestimate the impact our workers have on our guests and clients. And let’s not underestimate the toll this pandemic and the return to work has had on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of our workforce. So, in an effort to positively contribute to both, perhaps there is a window opening for a more pronounced focus on emotional intelligence within our training environments and the development of emotional and social skills to complement our workforce’s reliance on the occupational skills they’ve acquired over the years.

Joe Baker has recently joined OTEC as a Systems Leadership and Integrated Strategy Advisor.  He will be focusing on supporting tourism industry recovery efforts in collaboration with the many organizations involved in several active projects and initiatives.  He is an experienced speaker, facilitator and writer.  Contact him at: jbaker@otec.org

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