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Visioning for stronger housekeeping

Jo Simovic of Umbrella Training provides a frank but positive view of recent times and what we now face.

We were fresh out of the first lockdown when I started receiving phone calls from housekeeping leaders I’ve worked with in the past 15 years. All amazing leaders, great assets to their organisations; all worried about their jobs, their futures, the futures of their teams, and all questioning their skills set and strengths. Umbrella Training and UKHA had just facilitated the UKHA Toolkit where 10 senior housekeeping leaders came together in a creative fury and with analytical precision of a machine created something that every hospitality organisation could use to open safely. I could see all the drive, passion knowledge and skills.

Jo Simovic, chief operating officer at Umbrella Training

We were hearing amazing stories in UKHA meetings of housekeepers working with limited resources under difficult circumstances and succeeding against all the odds. We needed to get a ‘mirror’ for all those in hospitality who cannot see themselves the way others see them – to help them see their full reflection and put their best foot forward confidently. Transition support workshops were designed to increase confidence and employability of Umbrella Training apprentices, but this quickly expanded to include wider hospitality employees. Topics included building a winning CV, interview techniques, building meaningful connections through LinkedIn and transferable skills, and how to present them in the interview. Sessions were interactive and provided attendees with an opportunity to actively work on CVs, profiles and ability to vocalise their skills. The Transferable Skills workshop was the best received, and the most fun to train. One housekeeper said she has been doing her job for 17 years and thought that all she knew was hotel housekeeping, but after the workshop realised her skill set could be applied in many different hospitality departments and other industries.

Transition support workshops have been Umbrella Training’s way of empowering attendees in taking control of their own image, skills set and messaging around employability skills by building confidence. We will be running another set of workshops in January and hope to inspire many housekeepers to reflect on great skills their have and support them in progressing in their careers.

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can
decide not to be reduced by them.”

Maya Angelou

Executive housekeepers needed further support in working with limited resources and in the most challenging work environment in the recent history. We’ve been advocates of a strategic approach to training and development. This includes supporting organisations using futuring and visioning techniques – systematic processes of predicting future and identifying emerging opportunities and threats it presents.

Apprenticeships have been around topics of reverse mentoring, decision making and problem solving and change management to support the flexibility of organisations by instilling these in their future leaders. Every apprenticeship within Umbrella Training comes with clinical cleanliness modules to support organisational wide awareness of the need for proper sanitisation and adhering to COVID-safe guidelines. And we have run standalone clinical cleanliness modules for hundreds of housekeeping team members. We now need to look past the pandemic and a post-Brexit era. Our focus turns to development needs of all housekeeping team members, from room attendants to executive housekeepers, and retaining them by providing exciting and relevant development and career opportunities.

In the sea of change, this holistic approach to apprenticeships and career development will support organisations to move forward quicker, be more creative and adapt to change. It will also support individuals in being more agile, flexible, confident, and able to grow and develop. We may not control the pandemic and organisational reactions to the pandemic, but we can develop our teams and ourselves to thrive in these uncertain times.