The importance of wellbeing and mental health in hospitality

 

After yet another lockdown, where operators have only been able to provide takeaway and delivery, it’s understandable that restaurant, hotel and pub and bar owners are keen to get back to business and welcome customers through their doors again.

But this enthusiasm may not be shared by all. With the increased confusion we’ve seen in the media around what the correct safety guidelines and procedures are to follow, coupled with the threat of future COVID-19 outbreaks, with the discovery of new strains of the virus, could be making staff feel uncertain and nervous about their return to the workplace. Even though, now, we aren’t quite certain when that will be, with some reports suggesting that Easter may be the ‘most ambitious’ reopening date for hospitality.

Lockdown has been challenging for all of us, and the hospitality world we step back into, may look different again to the one we worked in after lockdown 2.0, so it’s understandable that those coming back to work on the frontline, might be concerned about a new team set-up, wearing PPE and serving customers from a distance.

Therefore, to ensure a smooth and successful re-opening, it’s important that operators factor employee wellbeing into their re-opening and recovery plans.

Supporting your hospitality staff to return to work

People are hospitality’s biggest asset and the ones responsible for keeping the business going, so their health and happiness will be paramount to the industry’s success. While hospitality staff are resilient and adept at masking their own feelings to show warmth and empathy to make their guests feel at ease, the challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, may have chipped their armour a little.

Anything operators can do to recognise and allay any fears or concerns in employees, will certainly help employees feel safe and supported and willing to return to work.

Remember too, that your employees are the ones you entrust to serve and feed your customers, so they need to feel confident and comfortable in doing so. After all, happy staff equals happy customers.

This will be especially key in the early days. For every consumer who is desperate to eat out again, there will be another who is feeling nervous about it, so it’s imperative that staff are able to show that they can take care of them.

 

How to avoid employee burnout in the hospitality industry

With long shifts and a fast-paced environment, hospitality, even before COVID-19, was already an industry where its employees were perhaps more susceptible of becoming stressed and suffering workplace burnout.

During the pandemic, where at different points we’ve seen a mixture of staff furloughed with some staff returning to work, your teams may have needed to wear several hats with people taking on different roles in a ‘all hands on deck’ mentality, and for very good reasons!  

But as you start to plan for another re-opening, consider how to get this balance right, as you don’t want to overwork those key members of the team that you bring back first, as they could become exhausted and demotivated.

Some tips on how to monitor mental health and avoid burnout, include:

  • Conduct regular 1-2-1s with you team to check how they’re feeling
  • Appoint wellbeing and mental health champions, who can be trained to identify stress and offer support
  • Gather feedback through employee feedback surveys
  • Create a culture where wellbeing and mental health are known to be a priority for the business, so people feel comfortable seeking help
  • If you haven’t already, consider introducing an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)

To assist operators in employee wellbeing, Access Hospitality has created a special guide – Employee wellbeing post lockdown.

We recognise that employee wellbeing is a complex area, covering both physical and mental health, so our guide takes operators through numerous areas – from providing reassurance to staff that the environment is safe to return, to tips on how to communicate with them – and offers various suggestions based on each business’s individual needs.

As well as dealing with employee wellbeing post-COVID-19, the guide offers tips on how to make a commitment to improve staff’s physical and mental health in the long-term, because employee wellbeing will be important to hospitality and its success now and in the future.

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