Since it was first acknowledged in 1992, Mental Health Awareness Day (10th October) has gained momentum, with many industries now striving to reduce the stigma once attached to this type of illness. UK organisations Barclays, John Lewis and Royal Mail all recently signed the new Mental Health at Work Commitment; but when it comes to the hospitality sector mental health, more still needs to be done.
Earlier this year, the Royal Society of Public Health released a report highlighting the severity of hospitality sector mental health. The report, Service With(out) a Smile? found that 84% of hospitality staff had suffered increased stress as a result of their job, with 62% of respondents stating that they felt the sector does not do enough to look after its employees.
What can you do to help your hospitality employees achieve positive mental health? I’ll cover five key strategies in this article.
1. State Your Intention
If your organisation has never spoken publicly about mental health, a business-wide drive is the best place to start. This could involve posters in the staff room or shared areas, an email to all staff, even a meeting if possible – to inform staff that there will now be a focus on mental health in terms of work-life balance and that they should feel as though they are able to speak to their manager if they need to. It is important to make sure that everyone in the company knows that all members of staff, including senior employees, are on board.
A recent government report recommended that employers, regardless of workplace type, industry, or size, adopt the mental health core standards of implementing and communicating a ‘mental health at work’ plan. How is your organisation performing against these standards? If you haven’t discussed your mental health awareness programme – now is the time to start.
2. Focus on Work-Life Balance
Hospitality staff are used to long hours and rare days off, but if you have promised your team two days off per week and regular breaks – make sure they get them, or this will lead to them not just feeling stressed, but also feeling undervalued and unappreciated.
Check-in with your staff during shifts to make sure that everyone is having their allotted breaks, even during busy times.
Encourage staff to use their breaks to get away from the establishment – in some places where staff live on-site it can become the norm for employees to spend all of their breaks and even their days off in the restaurant or hotel; they almost become institutionalised.
It is important for hospitality staff to have a clear definition between work and personal life so that they don’t feel as though they are ‘on-call’ all the time. Encourage your staff to take time away from work, so they feel like they have had an appropriate break.
Your employees will respond better to these small but significant changes when you demonstrate them yourself, so let me explain how important it is for you to lead your employees by example.
3. Leading by Example
A focus on mental health at work will not help anyone if it is announced and then forgotten about after two weeks by everyone – yourself included.
A recent Mind report found that 56% of employers said that they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing, but they felt that they hadn’t had the right training or guidance. The government report I mentioned earlier offers the following advice for managers to support their staff’s mental health-
- Produce, implement and communicate a mental health at work plan.
- Develop mental health awareness among employees.
- Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling.
- Provide employees with good working conditions.
- Promote effective people management.
- Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.
If you would like more information and actionable tips on how to implement helpful mental health strategies in your company, check out this great Mind resource.
4. Check-in Regularly
Once the subject of mental health awareness is established in your company, it will be easier for you to openly check-in with your employees to see how they are getting on and if they need any extra support.
In a busy restaurant, staff housekeeping can often slip to the bottom of the manager’s to-do list, so make sure it is always a priority – commit to regular 1-1’s with staff every few weeks, or monthly (at the least). Even employees who don’t currently struggle with their mental health will benefit from these regular chats, and it can help you spot warning signs before they turn into anything serious.
Finally, let me run through some tactical tips to support your staff, if and when they need it.
5. Seek to Understand Your Staff
If you become aware of an employee who you think might be struggling with their mental health, and you want to have a conversation, but they haven’t initiated it-
- Discreetly take them somewhere private and neutral away from other employees.
- Ensure confidentiality – 30% of UK staff feel that they can’t talk to their manager about their mental health – let them know that your conversation is confidential.
- Listen and respond to their issues flexibly – can you change their shifts? Help them with training? They might just need someone to talk to.
- Put an action plan in place going forward and let them know that they will receive regular help and support as and when they need it.
- Introduce them to different options and places where they can gain support outside your organisation, such as their GP. Additionally, there are some great workplace resources on the Mind website. Managers can only do so much, and sometimes you will need help on where to direct your staff if they need extra assistance.
Working in hospitality can be rewarding and draining in equal measure – it’s not for the faint-hearted, but that’s why so many talented, lively and ambitious people are drawn towards the sector.
As a hospitality recruiter, I work with a wide range of employees to find them their perfect roles in this sector – from Kitchen Porters to Executive Chefs, and the positive focus on mental health that is slowly starting to emerge within the industry is a win-win for both staff and their employers.
Get in contact with KSB today to find out more about the brilliant chefs and hospitality staff we work with.
We are expert recruiters in the catering and hospitality industry, with over 28 years in business, placing the best candidates in their perfect roles with an obsessive attention to detail.
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We specialise in roles in Birmingham, Staffordshire, the West Midlands, Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire and Northamptonshire.