Four ways to look after the mental health of your hospitality workers

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Mental health continues to be a salient issue across the modern workplace, and the hospitality sector is no different. With long hours, high-pressure working environments and a need to be constantly ‘on’, working in a hotel, café, bar or restaurant can challenge the mental wellbeing of even the happiest of workers.

A snapshot of the industry reveals just how worrying the current environment is. A survey conducted by The Caterer in 2018 revealed a number of upsetting statistics. 80% of respondents said their job was stressful sometimes or most of the time, while 51% said it was stress-inducing most or all of the time.1

What’s more, 59% identified themselves as having a mental health problem at the moment, and 71% had experienced negative mental wellbeing at one point. Of these, 56% said their employer was unaware, corresponding with their finding that 70% believe there is a stigma around mental health in the industry.

In the same year, research conducted by hospitality industry charity, The Benevolent, found that 40% of hospitality workers had never spoken to anyone at work about their mental health issues and that 49% believed their company had no mental health support in place.2 This is despite the proven benefits of looking after your employees’ mental health – negative mental health costs the UK economy as much as £34.9 billion a year,3 while addressing wellbeing at work can increase productivity by 12%.4

So as managers and leaders within the industry, what can you do to ensure your employees have the best chance at maintaining positive mental health?

1. Promote your initiatives

The Benevolent’s survey found that 50% of managers were aware of mental health policies within their workplace, but of those, a third were under the impression that employees didn’t know about them.2 Therefore, if you do have mental health initiatives in place, make sure they are communicated across the entire business. Include information in your onboarding process and promote them across all your internal communications. The more you talk about it, the easier it will be to reduce the taboo, thereby encouraging employees to be vocal about their struggles.

2. Train your managers

Research by Hospitality Action found that just 17% of managers and 9% of employees had been offered mental health awareness training in their workplace,5 demonstrating a gap in knowledge for many leaders. Arming your managers with the tools to discuss and approach mental health in the right way can make a huge difference to your working environment and means employees are more comfortable in discussing any potential issues. There are numerous consultancies and charities that offer mental health training to businesses, including MIND and Mental Health First Aid England.

3. Offer the right benefits

You may not have the facilities to increase everyone’s salaries, but there is plenty of room within your benefits packages to assist employees with their mental health. With 56% of respondents telling The Caterer’s survey that long working hours had an adverse impact on their mental health, is it time to consider implementing flexible working hours? Other options could include financial wellbeing initiatives, mental health days, access to counselling services or incentives for strong performance. Even something as simple as introducing staff meals while on shift could make a huge difference to an employee’s ability to maintain their mental health.

4. Introduce (and stick to) 1-1s

A recurring theme across hospitality and mental health research is a desire for open dialogue. Research by CV Library found that 27.8% of hospitality staff believed that regular, 1:1 catch ups would be helpful in supporting those that were struggling with their mental wellbeing.6 Therefore, it’s important to encourage managers to not only offer, but stick to, regular catch ups with each report. Creating a space in which they can discuss any issues, as well as chat about professional development, is only going to benefit both parties.

Tiger Hospitality can assist with a wide range of hospitality recruitment services. Get in touch today to see how we can help!

Author Tiger Contributor Tiger Recruitment Team

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