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2021 State of the Industry, part 3

Editor's note: This is part 3 in our three-part 2021 State of the Industry. Check out part 1 and part 2

We have seen some wonderful new products come through from manufacturers and suppliers, springing to assist us with the challenges we face—not just with guest interaction, but also for use within our own companies. So, let’s talk health and safety protocol for a bit.

Despite the mask and glove regulations, caterers still managed to make serving styles joyful. Photo courtesy Rachel B Photography 

While we can do everything under the sun to mask up, glove up, spritz and shield our employees (68% of companies do health screenings themselves in house), issues related to guest compliance remain challenging. We asked:

In your estimation, what ercentage of your events have you experienced client- or guest-imposed violations of COVID-related regulations or operating restrictions?

  • 48% have experienced violations imposed by guests

How is this handled? Not all companies are assuming responsibility for the policing of their guests, though overwhelmingly (68%), said they are absorbing the cost of PPE and other COVID-related necessities.  

In most states, masks, social distancing, and limited guest counts are the norm. In 52% of the respondents’ states, buffets were not allowed as of September 30, 2020. If buffets were allowed, most respondents noted that they had to be attended by masked and gloved staff, and buffet food shielded from guests—no self-service.

The Unscripted Durham hotel offers guests their own private igloos, designed with festivity and social distancing in mind. The igloos can accommodate up to 10 people who will enjoy weekly live entertainment and scenic views of downtown Durham, NC.  Photo courtesy Unscripted Durham

Regarding staffing

Despite that furloughs definitely occurred, 73% of respondents said they had not been furloughed during the prime time of March through September 2020. Perhaps this is due to the type of people responding, being that so many who completed the survey are in management. 

However, I also asked for a comparison about number of employees on staff in 2019 versus 2020 so we could gain an overall view regarding how companies have been affected. Overall, staffs have been reduced by 54%.

For those asked to return to work, push back came primarily from concerns about potential COVID contagion, with difficulties in homeschooling children, as well as unemployment compensation being higher than work pay also high scoring.  

Diversity & inclusion

Finally, we asked about company culture with an eye on diversity, inclusion, #metoo, and other concerning issues. We asked the following statements, and how strongly one agreed or did not agree with them:

  • My company employs an adequately diverse group of employees.
  • My company needs to proactively address issues of diversity & inclusion.
  • Racial, ethnic, LGBTQ and gender-based jokes or comments are not tolerated at my company.

What did we uncover? Over 80% agree or strongly agree that their companies could employ a more diverse group (a stunningly high number); 29% agree or strongly agree that their companies need to be more proactive in addressing issues of D&I; and 87% agree or strongly agree that their companies do not tolerate jokes or comments that target individuals. Company policies may be strong, but are the practices? 

Additionally, 72% noted that they have not been aware of discrimination at the companies they work for and 90% said they have not been discriminated against at their companies of employ. While 90% is pretty aces for a grade, any discrimination is too much discrimination. This is another area to work on in 2021 and beyond. 

Better times are ahead, my friends.