Hospitality’s mental health epidemic (and why clear career paths motivate teams)


8 min read

Hospitality’s mental health epidemic (and why clear career paths motivate teams)

Thomas Dibble

Feb 15, 2024


    The Shift Towards Retention – Forward by Planday CEO, Dave Lee

    In the last article, we discovered what affects employees’ happiness at work. But for years the hospitality industry has battled against a mental health epidemic. It seems that we’ve almost taken it for granted, and never interrogated what’s behind it.

    In The Shift Towards Retention, our exclusive deep dive into what’s causing staff churn in the hospitality industry, we try to get to the root of the problem – and offer solutions on how to tackle it that won’t put us out of business. Because if our wonderful industry is going to continue to thrive, we need to make it a more hospitable place for our teams too.

    So in this extract, we dive into hospitality’s mental health epidemic and explore why clear career paths motivate teams.

    Don’t forget, when you’re ready to read our full findings, you can download the whole paper for free.

    Hospitality’s mental health epidemic

    A concerning trend that has developed within the hospitality industry is the poor mental health experienced by employees. Previous industry reports have found 4 out of 5 hospitality professionals have reported having at least one mental health issue during their career. Unfortunately, this trend continues to grow, with our research showing 85% of hospitality employees experienced symptoms of poor mental health in the past 12 months, including depression, anxiety or stress.

    Three factors drive this problem; low pay (15%), a lack of work/life balance (17%) and poor financial wellbeing (16%). While low pay can be harder to address, creating better environments for work/life balance and financial wellbeing are firmly in managers’ control. Fixing these issues should be at the top of any agenda. Mental health support, for instance, is one of the most important workplace benefits to respondents (31%), behind only extra pay on bank holidays (42%) and free meals on shift (32%), but it is currently only available to 24% of hospitality employees.

    What are the most important workplace benefits?

    1. Extra pay on bank holidays 42.30%
    2. Free meals for workers on shift 32.50%
    3. Mental health support 31.13%
    4. Bonuses on top of tips 31.13%
    5. Discounted prices on goods and services 25.02%
    6. Personalised training & development plans 23.83%
    7. Mobile app that allows me to easily request shift changes and stay on top of my rota and pay 23.27%
    8. Birthday off 21.27%
    9. Taxis after finishing late-night shifts 14.41%
    10. No workplace benefits are important 2.43%

    Our survey offered clear solutions to this problem. For instance, 36% of workers state that better access to mental health support, along with weekend days off (33%) and more advanced planning through smarter rotas (33%) would significantly impact their wellbeing. By addressing these issues managers can go a long way to improving their staff’s mental health.

    Clear career paths and progression motivate hospitality employees 

    Many employees in hospitality have their eyes firmly set on the future. Better managerial support on career progression is one of the top factors that would keep employees from leaving their current role. Alarmingly though, 45% of employees feel they do not have a clear professional path or the training needed to progress to the next level.

    This lack of support contributes to why so many hospitality workers regularly change jobs within the industry, with 71% of people feeling they lack appropriate guidance to progress planning to leave their role in the immediate feature, compared to 45% of those who feel adequately supported. This could be driven by people looking for new experiences and managers who could offer them training. Unfortunately, due to this high churn, many people become managers at a much younger age than they might in other industries.

    Meaning many can feel out of their depth when it comes to managing staff. Considering 31% of hospitality employees felt that developing their own management capability was one of the most important skills to develop to progress their career, it is vital the industry does more to support current managers, especially as younger employees are promoted. This is becoming increasingly important as managers’ roles extend beyond managing balance sheets, and morale, motivation and staff development become more of a focus.

    Not having started in hospitality, Tom Tsappis and Mathilda Ruffle from Killiecrankie House in Scotland brought best practices from other industries to their business. These practices have led to zero churn in two years.

    Download The Shift Towards Retention today

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