It’s not exactly a secret that the hospitality industry is a pretty big one. With nearly half the working population in some kind of hospitality position, at least prior to COVID-19, the sector had no real limits.
Yet, the one thing that we never really saw was any kind of real conversation about stress, mental health and pressure in the hospitality workplace. People kind of assumed it came with the territory and just didn’t make any attempts to address it.
Ultimately, this attitude has proven harmful however, and a frank conversation about health and stress in the hospitality workplace is long overdue.
A Common Issue
“If you can’t handle the heat, stay out of the kitchen”.
Once considered to be a defining maxim of the hospitality industry, this statement about needing to thrive under pressure has become part of a culture which is comfortable with zero accountability for the welfare of kitchen and hospitality staff everywhere, especially during COVID-19 working months.
The demands of the modern customer base means that the hospitality industry is a fairly competitive one. People are more inclined than ever before to try and edge out their rivals to secure the top positions and earn a better wage. However, the thing which is most often sacrificed in this pursuit is mental health, well-being, and an ability to deal with stress.
Incredible amounts of pressure, abusive customers, and unsympathetic management have all led to a rise in the number of workers who are stressed, overworked, and one bad day away from breaking down completely.
Mentally and Physically Demanding
Unfortunately, this type of culture has become all too common. Physical and mental pressures are considerable when it comes to the hospitality industry.
A lot of workers choose to work outside the legal guidelines for working hours — simply to make money — and this means that they have to leave the legal protection of the system behind. The harsh abuse from customers and constant feeling of walking on tenterhooks can really upset the mental well-being of a person. All this does is contribute massively to pressure and stress, increasingly so during a difficult lockdown period.
How Do We Prevent a Buildup of Stress and Pressure?
Obviously, being able to prevent a buildup of stress and pressure will undoubtedly help to alleviate some of the tension which is faced by people in the hospitality industry every day.
Thankfully, there are a handful of things which can be done to prevent the massive buildup of stress, and these will help to overcome a lot of the issues you’ll face, so let’s take a look at them here and now.
- Work-life balance. The first and most important thing you can do as a worker is to try and strike a good work-life balance. This means that you need to try and split your life a little more evenly with regards to the times you’re at work and the time you spend away from it.
- Staff flexibility. As the employer, or someone in a position to choose working hours, you need to be flexible with regards to how you do things. Remember that there’s some benefit to swapping around hours to get a little relaxation time.
- Cultivate creativity. One of the best things that you can do is to try and encourage the creativity of the staff you have. You might not know it but you’ve probably got some pretty creative and highly intelligent staff members. If you let them explore that side of their personality and use it in the work setting, you might find that you create a nicer workspace for all.
- Mental Health and Skills Training. If you ever stop and find yourself worried about the mental health of your staff, then you can always take a proactive approach to help remedy this. The best way to make sure that you look after your team members is to help train them to be able to assist with mental health in the workplace. Get them the training to provide support, recognise signs of struggle, and teach them how to make a positive difference in the workplace.
- Reward Staff For Working Hard. A lot of the time, you’ll find that most of the big stress and pressure from working in hospitality stems from a lack of appreciation. Most people just want to be acknowledged for having done a good job, but this doesn’t happen as often as you would think. Rewarding your staff is a good way to make sure that they feel encouraged, which will in turn help to take some of the stress away.
Stress in the workplace is something many people deal with every day. However, it is arguably most rampant in the hospitality industry. This is a place where people don’t feel special, don’t get the encouragement they need, and often struggle to feel valued.
None of this translates into success for your business. Your entire industry functions based on the workers that you employ. These people are the lifeblood of the hospitality world but they fail to get the basic recognition they deserve time and time again. It’s a real shame.
Thankfully, there are some things that you can do as a worker to mitigate your stress overloading you, and employers can often do more to help. The key is making sure that there is an effective dialogue between manager and worker, because otherwise nothing is properly communicated.
Training is usually a good way to help promote an increased awareness of the issues which are present. It is important to be on the ball when it comes to what you can do for your business, and this often means equipping staff with the skills to help tackle workplace stress.
Ultimately, it is important to be kind to the workplace staff, especially in the hospitality industry. There are few industries which have such a broad reach, and even fewer with so little safeguards to protect mental health in place. As an employer, you can do better, and you should strive to do so wherever possible.