If you own or manage a hospitality business, it’s important to think about mental health. The constant pressure and fast pace of the sector can result in employees feeling overly stressed and suffering from burnout.
Employers have a legal duty to safeguard the mental and physical health of their employees. The risks must be assessed and, if necessary, protections put in place to help safeguard employees. In this article, we take a look at mental health in hospitality and consider what you need to do to meet your legal duty and look out for your staff
Is the UK Hospitality Industry in Crisis?
The hospitality industry is the third biggest employer in the UK and accounts for 10% of UK employment and approximately 5% of GDP. Despite its size, there have been numerous factors that have caused downward trends in the sector.
The impact of the COVID–19 pandemic and the effect of inflation caused the workforce to shrink. This was on the back of Brexit, which saw hundreds of thousands of foreign workers leave the sector.
As a result, many hospitality workers are now forced to work longer hours and take on more responsibilities as businesses struggle to deal with chronic staff shortages. This is coupled with resurgent customer demand.
As a result, the physical and mental health of hospitality workers has suffered significantly.
Common Mental Health Problems in the Hospitality Industry
Pressure and stress have always been issues for hospitality workers. The industry is well-known for its high rates of employee burnout.
Whether a worker is employed in the front of house or back of house in the kitchen, hospitality jobs all involve tight time constraints and steep learning curves. Hospitality workers must deal with uncertain conditions, low pay and long, antisocial hours. Many workers report volatile interpersonal relationships with colleagues and a lack of support from employers.
The inherent pressures of hospitality work, combined with a demanding public, contribute to many workers feeling overwhelmed. Stress, depression and anxiety are commonplace among hospitality workers. Due to the nature of the work, self-medication through the use of drugs and alcohol is also prevalent.
Statistics on Mental Health in Hospitality
- More than four out of every five hospitality workers reported increased stress levels
- 45% of respondents stated they would not recommend working in hospitality
- 62% of respondents believed that the hospitality industry does not do enough for the physical and mental health of employees
- 74% of hospitality workers reported suffering verbal abuse from customers
- 24% of hospitality workers have required medical or psychological treatment for mental health issues
- Only one in every ten workers stated that they had access to mental health awareness training
Two-thirds of UK hospitality workers stated that their mental health was worse than it was during the height of the COVID-19, according to the Employee Mental Health and Remote Working report from team building company Wildgoose.
A staggering 100% of respondents stated that they didn’t receive enough mental health support from their employers. Just 23% said they felt they were able to raise concerns about mental health in hospitality workplaces.
Improving Mental Health for Hospitality Workers
Employers have a legal duty to protect the physical and mental health of their employees. This is enshrined in law by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. If you are found to have breached health and safety regulations, then you could face criminal charges. Meeting your obligations involves taking measures to improve the mental health of your employees.
There are many ways in which employers can act to support and encourage positive mental health in the hospitality industry. The ‘Service With(out) a Smile’ report recommends improving mental health for hospitality staff with better support mechanisms such as:
- More sick leave
- Increased enforcement of employment rights
- Regular one-to-one meetings between managers and workers
- Access to mental health awareness training
Employers and management should also work together with staff to ensure there are regular breaks during shifts and that shifts are shared evenly between staff members.
Workers should be given time off in lieu of, if they’ve worked extra hours. Mental health first aiders can provide support for staff and help them to openly acknowledge and discuss mental health issues. If required, access to medical professionals or mental health support groups should be provided.
How to Monitor Mental Health Issues
Employers and managers in the hospitality industry need to be vigilant in monitoring the physical and mental health of their employees. Regular one-to-one meetings between management and front-line staff will help to identify any issues and facilitate the development of solutions that work for all.
If you own or manage a hospitality business, you should look out for warning signs of poor mental health amongst your staff. Symptoms of mental health problems can include:
- Increased rates of absenteeism
- Staff working when they are ill
- An overall decline in productivity
- Staff having problems concentrating
- Noticeable declines in staff morale
- High rates of alcohol or drug abuse among staff
- Erratic behaviour or overly emotional responses
The hospitality industry places a huge amount of pressure on employees. The combined effects of uncertain conditions, long hours, demanding customers and high-stress working environments can result in burnout, anxiety and depression.
Mental Health Awareness Training for Hospitality Workers
Employers and staff need to know effective techniques on how to monitor mental health, both their own and that of their co-workers.
Our Mental Health Awareness Training course can give management and frontline hospitality staff the skills they need to recognise the symptoms of mental health problems within themselves and to provide assistance to others when needed.
The course is online and can be completed in one sitting of approximately 35 minutes or taken in segments to better fit around work schedules. Trainees will be awarded a downloadable printable certificate, certified by CPD, on successful completion of the course. Don’t let your business reputation suffer because your staff aren’t aware of the risks to their mental health. After all, happy staff surely results in happy customers.