Employees look for guidance and support during challenging times.
How management responds to crises can influence how employees feel about them.
“The hospitality industry has been hit especially hard by the pandemic,” Guzzo said. “The nature of hospitality work – including not having the option to work from home and service orientation – enlarges the pandemic’s effects.”
Trust is critical to combating the crisis
Guzzo and her co-authors study how managers’ messages can influence hospitality employees’ emotions. This consequently affects their trust in organizations when facing COVID-19.
“Organizational trust determines employees’ commitment, engagement and even performance,” Guzzo said. “It takes time and effort to build trust between employees and organizations. That trust is at risk of breaching when both interact.”
Employees’ trust depends on the steps an organization takes to combat negative effects.
This includes choosing whether to follow social norms. It also involves inferring organizational support versus stating it, Guzzo shares.
Evidence leads to enhancements
Guzzo’s experimental study is one of the first to investigate the impact of a crisis on employees’ emotional responses.
“Our empirical evidence can help employees assess their organizations’ treatment of them,” she said. “It can also help organizations realize the importance of following official health guidance. This can lessen their employees’ negative emotions, as well as enhance positive ones.”
Such positive emotions encourage positive social behavior. Customers benefit from positivity through the quality of their interactions with employees.
In contrast, negative emotions among employees can lead to negative long-term consequences, Guzzo explains.
“For employees, this could include mental health issues or concerns of contracting the virus,” she said. “For organizations, this could result in loss of production, costs incurred from sick leaves and a bad reputation.”
Her research can assist the hospitality industry in thriving among the uncertainty of the pandemic. This starts with supporting employees who make operations possible.
“Many hospitality organizations have made headlines for not meeting health guidelines,” Guzzo said. “I hope our empirical evidence can show organizations’ owners and managers the importance of communicating with their employees at times of crises.”