What to do if you’re laid off due to COVID-19

what to do if you're laid off

There have been many jobs lost in hospitality in recent months. Here’s what to do if you’re laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19.

It’s not news at this point that hospitality has been incredibly hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis. More than six months into the pandemic, millions of people have been laid off or furloughed and many are at a loss for what to do while we all wait for jobs to return.

According to Statista (via HospitalityNet), more than 100 million people around the world have lost travel and tourism jobs, and that number could rise to 174 million in 2020 according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). This is a worst- case scenario, which is projected if changes, inlcuding the lifting of travel restrictions and the implementation of an international testing regime combined with rigorous health and safety protocols, are not made. 

Fortunately, hospitality companies are coming up with creative ideas for staycations and other ways to attract local visitors. So, things are improving already and many people are back at work. Others are not so lucky yet.

What to do if you’re laid off due to COVID-19

With so many people in the sector affected, there’s a pretty good chance you’re one of them. If you’re asking yourself “what now?,” here are 10 things to do if you’re furloughed or laid off due to COVID-19.

1. Find out what relief or severance you’re eligible for.

If you’re newly laid off, check your contract to see what you’re entitled to and find out if there are programs in your country, province, or territory offering financial relief. This will vary widely. Some relief has dried up while other programs are still being introduced. In Canada, for example, people have had access to a program called CERB (Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit). And North Carolina has just launched a new state program, called Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE). The program is administered through the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency and provides a financial lifeline for people whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic.

 2. Get involved with volunteering and industry initiatives

Keep busy participating in webinars and industry groups. This keeps you visible and occupied and allows you to maintain connections. Volunteering for a cause you care about will also boost your morale and expand your network, and has the added bonus of being a service to the world around you.

3. Give yourself a timeline

If you’ve been furloughed or your layoff is temporary, set a time limit for how long you can reasonably wait before you have to start looking for a job. Your employer is as much in the dark as any of us when it comes to how this situation is going to play out. So, they probably want very much to rehire you, but are also at the mercy of the pandemic. So, decide if you can wait one, three, or six months and plan from there. When the time is up, start looking for a new job.

4. Update your resume and LinkedIn profile

There is never a bad time to update your resume and LinkedIn profile. Give these a polish. It will be a good use of your time and you’ll have great material to present prospective employers should you find yourself needing it. Among the most obvious tips are making sure your experience is up to date, removing unnecessary information, and making sure your highlighted skills are among the most in-demand for your area of expertise and industry.

5. Upskill

Adding to your knowledge and skillset will keep you employable now and always. Take an online course, read, or learn from a tutorial. There may be a college program designed to help, like Miami Dade College’s Hotel Worker Relief Grant Program. The program will provide $1,000 to up to 2,500 eligible employees who complete a two-day virtual training workshop in English, Spanish or Haitian Creole.

If you’re a service provider with plans to eventually move into a management position but a lack of business knowledge, start learning about how to manage a company. If you’re already a manager, there is always something to learn, like how to improve your leadership skills or your retail acumen.  

6. Reach out to your real and virtual network social media 

If you do start looking for a new job, let your network know. We’ve seen many people in hospitality, some very senior level, write LinkedIn posts stating that they’ve lost their jobs and asking their networks for help finding new employment. Don’t be shy to do this. Everyone understands. Contact the people you know, tell them about your situation and ask for help. People will want to help. Offer to help in return if they need it.

7. Consider your options and get creative

Do you need income NOW? Can you turn to freelance, contract, or gig work? Can you offer your services as a consultant, start your own business selling product boxes, or do something new? Would creating online courses be something you can do? Can you use other means to market yourself or enhance your personal brand, like writing articles or creating video content? The problem is yours to solve and your opportunities may be more abundant than you think.

8. Maintain forward momentum

Things are difficult right now and it can be easy to start feeling scared and stuck. Do your best to do whatever you can to maintain forward momentum. This is not to say that you don’t have the right to be frustrated, disappointed, or scared. But you will have an easier time getting back into the workforce if you don’t allow these feelings to overwhelm you. Take time to recharge and look after yourself. Turn to friends and family when you need to talk and reflect, and be gentle with yourself, but also firm. Keep making small changes and updates to your life, skills, and personal brand materials, on a daily basis.

9. Take it one day at a time and be good to yourself

You will work again. In the meantime, take it one day at a time and surround yourself with supportive people. We will come out of this.

Related reading

5 marketing strategies for hotel & resort spas in a COVID-19 world


Spa Executive is published by Book4Time, the leader in guest management, revenue and mobile solutions for the most exclusive spas, hotels, and resorts around the globe. Learn more at book4time.com.