How Great Performances Keeps a Growing Staff of 300+ Trained on COVID Requirements
"Everything's moving so fast now, there's no time to wait. Now, when employees get hired, they get enrolled into Opus COVID Training."
Josh Satterthwaite is the VP of Operations at Great Performances, a premiere hospitality and catering company based in New York. Josh oversees all of their catering operations, which ranges from weddings and corporate events to fundraisers and festivals. On any given day, Great Performances employs 300 people who work as waitstaff, chefs, day-of-coordinators, bartenders and more.
When Great Performances was permitted to reopen business after the initial closures as a result of COVID-19, Josh needed to ensure the team had a plan to keep his team and his customers safe.
What prompted you to start looking for employee training at Great Performances?
Great Performances shut down and was basically closed for a week. Then suddenly we had to start back up very, very quickly. We wanted to create a safe environment for our teams, guests and clients, so we were researching Covid regulations, but there wasn’t a single consolidated source. There were CDC guidelines, New York State guidelines, and some information from the City, but much of it was unclear. So it really felt like it was up to the businesses to create their own systems.
While there's a little bit more information coming our way from those institutions now, a lot of the details are a bit vague. We didn't want to just have blinders on and trust our own judgement. It's easy to miss little things when we're in the middle of this all day. So I wanted to get an outside perspective. We wanted to partner with someone to give us some external validation of how we're training our people.
What were you looking for in your training?
The whole challenge COVID presents is how do you train people in an effective way without being able to do it in person. I think with our workforce, and probably a lot of food service, getting everyone onto a Zoom call or conference call is not super tenable.
The main appeal of Opus training is that it's decentralized. So being able to train our team in a delivery system that everyone has access to was important. We also had to be able to do it at scale. We've grown––every week we're adding another 20 people back to our workforce––so we need to be able to offer the training as part of the onboarding process when people start with us.
When do you have your employees start the training?
Normally, we would do training in batches. For example, every three months we would take all the new bartenders and run them through Tips Training. Everything's moving so fast now, there's no time to wait. Now it's just part of the onboarding process. When employees get hired, they immediately get enrolled into Opus COVID Training.
The ongoing nature of it was appealing to me. To be able to have that daily reminder to keep the information really fresh is helpful for everyone.
How did your team respond to Opus' text-message based training?
People really were receptive to it and appreciative of not having to be called into a two hour class, but still get the information. Managers were happy to have an easy way of getting this to their staff, and the overhead of doing this is quite low.
Did you notice a difference in your staff's behavior at work?
I had a meeting with a staff person a week or two ago who brought things to our attention as a result of having completed the training. The staff person said that the training says hand washing is much more effective than gloves. And they recommended adding another hand sink to our space. Having more people be aware of what's needed is great because my managers can't be everywhere at all times. The staff is helping us stay accountable.
How has the training made your job easier?
Being able to manage the training so that I can easily see who has completed it, and that we can then confidently tell clients, or anyone, "All 300 of our staff have been through Opus COVID Training. Yes, we're sure of that. Yes, we have the records of it." Having that verification is critical to us.