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hotel employee app for tracking covid symptoms

SPIRE Hospitality Streamlines Daily Health Checks

September 10, 2020

Tracking employees’ symptoms through a mobile app can help lessen the burden on human resources collecting daily health checks during the pandemic, according to SPIRE Hospitality’s VP of Human Resources Barbara Doucet.

Once the pandemic hit, SPIRE Hospitality had to quickly revamp its daily health check system for staff from a paper process to a mobile app in order to streamline efficiencies.

Barbara Doucet, VP of human resources at SPIRE Hospitality, which manages a portfolio of independent and branded properties including Marriott International, Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group, said her team encouraged its staff to self-screen symptoms before entering the workplace.

“We initially created the daily health protocol,” she said. “We asked our team members to fill it out each day … we managed a paper process, we never closed our doors, initially it wasn’t a huge ask. However, when the stay-at-home orders across the country began to lift, we felt like managing paper copies for every team member, for every shift, for every property was going to be a substantial undertaking.”

Doucet said her team then turned to its vendors for a mobile app solution.

Picking an app

When looking for the right app that each property’s teams could use, it was important to identify a system that SPIRE already had access to, Doucet said.

During the beginning of COVID-19, she said her team rolled out a communication app through a third party it did not already use. It required the download and use of a platform that staff were not already familiar with. SPIRE then discontinued use of that system.

She said one of the vendors SPIRE already uses for a scheduling and chat platform recently developed a wellness app, and it was a no-brainer to use that.

“We were able to very quickly partner with them and develop the questions so that we could use our daily health protocol to their electronic portal,” she said. “(Staff) can utilize it on their phone if they prefer; they can utilize it on a tablet or a computer.”

It was essential for the management company to find a way to remind team members that their health and well-being are a priority, she said.

“To do that, we had to either come up with a manual process or a process that allows us to implement the system like this where team members in human resources, for example, can continue to help throughout the property and not make this an all-day project,” she said.

How it works

The questions on the app are asked in a yes/no format, Doucet said. If a team member selects “yes” to a question, an email will be sent directly to that employee’s supervisor and to the HR team identifying them as a potential risk.

The HR team or supervisor will then speak directly with the team member to identify the next steps, she said. In some cases, it could be that the team member selected the wrong box, or they had to say yes to be truthful, but it might be allergy-related.

“We do have a discussion with the individual to make a determination if they’re able to report to work or if they need to be sent home,” she said.

Doucet said the HR team has seen a much higher compliance rate from staff using that app compared to the previous process. It’s very rare that a staff member walks on-property and forgets to complete the wellness check, she said.

“We know that the testing has worked because if you selected a ‘yes,’ we’re getting an immediate response. So we don’t need to go find anyone, we don’t need to go look to see if somebody has any type of flag, this is all naturally coming to us,” she said.

Doucet said this new process has reduced time spent tracking down team members and having to review and manage paperwork.

“We are able to have these reports stay active or available for us to identify that we’ve had some flags for a period of time, and then we’re able to keep track of them internally,” she said.

An easy investment

Doucet said the vendor allowed SPIRE to use these features now at no additional cost, but once they continue to use it through the new year there will be a cost.

“(Our) vendors realize that hospitality is a 24/7-operation; there are a lot of things that we can try and test and help out, and we have had a great partnership with this vendor to help them build and develop this as well as being able to use this tool,” she said.

She said SPIRE continually looks for ways to ensure that it is not only taking care of team members’ health and safety but also their communication needs.

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