Employee Retention Masterclass – Why mental health should be an employer's top priority


4 min read

Employee Retention Masterclass – Why mental health should be an employer's top priority

Sofia Ellmén

Sofia Ellmén

May 15, 2024

What's on the menu

    Most job postings these days are looking for someone who’s “able to multitask” and “works well under pressure”. The implication? That you’re expected to work under constant stress and jump from task to task. Who’s created this work culture? Customers or us ourselves?

    Hospitality work has never been a “laid-back,” stress-free job with short hours. Research shows that up to 85% of hospitality workers in the UK have experienced symptoms of poor mental health within the last 12 months. The work environment and tricky hours are among the top reasons given for why people decide to quit their hospitality jobs.

    In The Shift Towards Retention, Planday asked 2,000 UK shift workers about their work priorities and habits – and found that 36% of respondents wished to receive better support for mental health from their employer. They also stressed the need for more balance between their work and private life. Having enough days off and access to work schedules earlier would significantly improve the lives of hospitality workers. In fact, up to 46% of respondents would not recommend a job in the industry due to lack of control over rotas.

    We chatted with Kris Hall – founder of The Burnt Chef Project – and Planday Partner Tenzo about how business owners can combat the mental health issue in the industry and keep their talent happy by planning ahead and improving work conditions.

    Breaking down stigmas

    The Burnt Chef Project has been tackling mental health in the hospitality industry since 2019. The not-for-profit was set up to improve recruitment opportunities and reduce staff turnover by creating a culture of care and compassion through tools, services and education. One of its primary goals is to remove the taboo from talking about mental health issues and to banish the stigma surrounding it.

    Kris has been a mental health advocate and working to reduce the stigma around it, for over nine years. He has seen and experienced the negative effects of poor mental health and wants to help the industry get back on its feet. While the numbers show that there is a need for better support, there is still a strong stigma around the topic. A study by The Burnt Chef, showed that up to 46% of respondents would not feel comfortable talking about their health concerns with their colleagues.

    It’s one thing to provide support and offer tools and ways of working which contribute to better mental health, it’s another to actively change the role of mental wellbeing in the industry. Taking care of yourself should be your first priority, regardless of which industry you work in. Having a people-facing job means that feeling balanced and good becomes even more important. After all, it’s hard to serve guests with a smile, when you’re struggling in your personal life.

    From last-minute panic to planning ahead

    Changing attitudes can take time, but there are things business owners can do today to improve their team’s collaboration, communication and job satisfaction.

    Earlier in the Employee Retention Masterclass, we shared recommendations on how to improve financial wellbeing for employees and gave tips on how to provide better career development opportunities for staff. Now it’s time to discuss how to improve work/life balance. This might feel like a challenging topic to approach, if you don’t know where to start. Let’s break it down to what actually affects work/life balance in hospitality. One obvious factor is the ever-changing schedules and long working hours. If you always get your schedule at the last minute, it makes it nearly impossible for you to plan life outside of work. So how can we go from last-minute panic to planning ahead?


    Having more information about your business makes it easier to make smarter, data-driven decisions. Tools like Tenzo, help hospitality businesses get insights about which days of the week tend to be the busiest, what menu items are most popular and when and how bank holidays and weather can affect table bookings and staffing needs.

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