Support essential during lockdown, says HR manager

Human Resources manager at the Radisson Blu Waterfront hotel, Maggie Adams.

Human Resources manager at the Radisson Blu Hotel at the Waterfront, Maggie Adams, said her role as a supporting team member had come to the fore during the lockdown.

As the person in charge of everyone’s pay cheques and, to some extent, mental health in the workplace, Covid-19 and the subsequent travel restrictions have thrown a number of obstacles her way.

“As my role is administration, I have therefore been working from home. I miss my team, and my hotel, but technology has allowed us to remain in touch. Zoom meetings, Skype Calls keep our team focused and in-touch.

“With the staff, it’s WhatsApp messages, calls and video chats, messaging and emails. Lots of people have questions and anxiety, and that means that I’m often found with my phone in hand. I do miss the face-to-face talks which for Human Resources is so important.”

Maggie, who now lives in Ottery, was born in Mitchell’s Plain.

She finished her schooling at Lentegeur High School and always wanted to be a teacher as she was passionate about children. However, finances didn’t allow her the opportunity.

She then found a job as an administrator for an engineering company before landing a job in human resources at Parmalat. However, tough times a few years down the line meant that she was retrenched just before she was due to get married. “This was such a difficult time for me. I sent my CV out to many different companies and agencies until finally, someone from an agency contacted me with an opportunity at Park Inn by Radisson on Greenmarket Square,” said Maggie.

“I was interviewed by Lizette Botha – the first female GM within the Rezidor Group of hotels – and I was offered the job the same day as the interview. I have never looked back since.”

Maggie said when she started, she knew very little about hotels, and to her, it was a place where the rich and famous went. “After I started, I fell in love with the industry and its people. I was the human resources officer, payroll officer and training manager at the time.”

After two years, she started at Radisson Blu Hotel at the Waterfront as the executive secretary for the general manager, and later, the assistant Human Resources manager. After a short stint at other hotels to broaden her expertise, Maggie returned to the Radisson Blu Waterfront, where she still works today.

“My journey helped me to discover my passion for the hospitality industry and HR, and has allowed me to guide and teach young adults in such a meaningful way”

Maggie has been in hospitality for 18 years now and along with celebrating that career achievement, she is also about to celebrate a big birthday.

“I am 49 years old and will be 50 in September. I was going to have a big bash, but Covid and lockdown had other plans,” she said. “But even though I lose out on a big birthday celebration, I still feel very lucky. I have a wonderful, supportive family.

On an emotional level, work has been a lot to handle because from where I stand, I see what struggles people go through. I am lucky and blessed to be surrounded by people who help me through it all.”

The hospitality industry has been one of the worst hit by Covid-19 and global travel restrictions.

Even with tourism now slowly reopening, there is a long road ahead for businesses in the industry and those employed by hotels. Radisson Blu Waterfront has reopened for those travelling for business and within the province for leisure.

It has also opened its restaurant, Tobago’s.

However, Maggie says the hospitality industry is still suffering. “Many people have lost their jobs due to hotels and restaurants closing and those who are operating are not fully operational and therefore less staff is required.

Retrenchments are becoming more frequent within the industry. If the lockdown can be lifted, with all precautions put in place, it means our industry can open up and allow us to start to rebuild. We then ask our fellow South Africans to support local.” She said one of the most difficult times for her during the lockdown was the uncertainty.

“As a hotel, our staff interact with many people, so the concern was immediate – the young mothers, the ones suffering from diabetes and other comorbidities. Their stress was real.

“To help our staff, during lockdown we shared different at-home training ideas to help keep them fit and active. We are also part of a large hotel group that offered online talks with helpful tips and positive things to focus on, and we encouraged our staff to be involved and take part.”

She said the worrying and uncertainty placed additional pressure on the staff at the hotel.

“It broke my heart to see it, but when I know I need a moment of reflection and prayer, I always come back to the same realisation – this too shall pass.”