Employee Mental Health: a priority for a good environment!

Working in hospitality often means long hours and unsociable shifts. Due to the nature of the role, it can be stressful and pressured, yet there is a tendency among workers to keep any mental health issues to themselves and face these pressures alone.

After a hectic month of December, it may be a good time to reflect on some of the challenges in our industry as I am particularly focused on the mental health of the people working around us.

The last few months have seen unprecedented stress placed on our team due to a lack of staffing in the industry.

This is the result of several factors:

  • Back-of-house staff often work in an environment with no natural light or good fresh air supply.
  • Less available professionals employee in the industry after the double whammy of Covid and Brexit.
  • Millennials and generation Z aiming at better life/work balance and not embracing the idea of having a job that involves unsocial hours.
  • More young people going for the casual work approach, allowing them the flexibility to study or follow a passion as a first priority.
  • An increased activity resulting in more guest’s conflicts such as dealing with intoxicated guests.

All these factors associated with the increased demand and traffic of the festive season has pushed our full-time employee into a massive amount of stress.

As an employer and business, it is very challenging to strike the right balance between maximising the revenue and not overworking the employees, which could result in staff leaving and adding even more pressure to the remaining staff.

Hence, there are several actions to be taken or consider:

  • Open up. Depression and mental issues should not bear any stigma, they are real illnesses and need real diagnosis.
  • Your staff comes first, if they tell you that they are tired, listen to them and try to give them the rest they deserve. Would you push too much, your level of absenteeism will increase.
  • Keep the moral of your staff high by talking to them, explaining that there are some challenges for a period of time and that you do recognise it and act on it.
  • Consider closing a bit earlier and not always aim for the extra quid.
  • Ensure they have a proper break and meal during their shift. A relaxed place to rest and a good meal goes a long way and more companies are now offering a dedicated staff room where they can relax during their break.
  • Watch for any signs and symptoms and practice an open-door policy like regular sickness, aggressive response, drinking outside work, lack of sleep, increase in accident at work…Offer pre-emptive help as soon as you see any symptoms. Conduct regular coffee chats.
  • Have an agreement with an employee support program that deals with mental and physical health issues and communicate their contact number to all members of staff.
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Therefore it makes sense that businesses face the reality of mental health and talk openly about it. Sadly, those that suffer in silence can eventually reach a breakdown point or worse. I personally know of a chef who committed suicide as a result of depression that was not picked up by his professional entourage.

There is also now a lot of initiative created by industry leaders and here are a few of them you can always contact to get some advice:

And some more generic one:

Insight Hospitality – January 2023