Mental health in hospitality, a crisis we need to be talking about


6 min read

Mental health in hospitality, a crisis we need to be talking about


    Hate to admit it, but the hospitality industry has been riding the wave of a mental health crisis for years. Burnt out staff are suffering from uncertain workloads, recovering from a global pandemic and a cost-of-living crisis. The industry has never been under so much pressure, and cracks are starting to show.

    Over the past 12 months, 85% of staff have suffered from symptoms of poor mental health.

    That’s a shockingly high number of staff reporting symptoms such as depression, stress and anxiety. This health and wellbeing crisis is affecting the majority of the hospitality sector. In fact, over half of all current staff are looking to quit their current jobs. If they do? There’ll be a mass exodus from the industry.

    We’re looking at a mental health crisis, that’s causing a hospitality crisis. And it’s time to tackle both.

    What’s going on?

    A combination of issues has created a mental health crisis. The industry is at boiling point. Mental health is crucial to staff wellbeing, but unfortunately 80% of hospitality professionals have reported experiencing at least one mental health issue during their career. And that number is growing.

    There are a number of pressures and choices that have a knock on effect on staff happiness. But there are some common themes that we can all be aware of.

    Low pay is an issue that affects the hospitality sector, but it’s an issue more widely spread. The cost-of-living crisis, stagnant or low wages and the ever-increasing costs of running a business mean financial pressure is a huge issue in hospitality. Unfortunately, this is one of the hardest areas to implement change – for many areas of business, increasing salaries just isn’t a viable option. And many are already doing their best to pay the living wage.

    The impact of low wages is made worse by poor financial wellbeing. In an industry that relies on zero-hour contracts, the required flexibility and constant change can make financial planning very difficult for employees. And this uncertainty causes stress. Stress that feeds into reports that 53% of all current hospitality professionals are looking to leave their current roles.

    And one of the biggest issues facing hospitality professionals is the lack of work/life balance. The lack of future planning, and last-minute changes to schedule and working hours can make it impossible to maintain hobbies, schedule important appointments, see friends and family and maintain other commitments.

    Scheduling your staff rota in advance

    This is a key change everyone can start making, and it’s free! Currently 33% of all hospitality workers say that knowing their work schedule ahead of time would have a significant impact on their mental wellbeing. But 69% of employees get a week or less notice of their next shift. When we plan ahead, we create happier teams who feel less stress.

    Currently, 68% of employees have considered changing industry due to lack of planning. Giving your team members one full weekend off or making sure they get their weekly days off together, can have a real impact on their work/life balance. A third of hospitality workers said that having weekend days off would positively benefit their mental wellbeing.

    Extra pay on bank holidays

    Rewarding staff with better pay while working holidays not only improves morale for those members who may be missing exciting or meaningful personal plans but helps ensure staffing levels on those days where your business is naturally busier. Your customers benefit from a fully staffed team, who themselves won’t suffer the burn out of understaffing.

    Offer free meals on shift

    Feed your team! Making sure that you’re feeding your staff while they’re on shift makes a big difference. Hungry staff aren’t focussed or energised. Exhausted staff can’t perform their best, and can be irritable and hard to work with. Burnt out staff don't want to return to work, and exhaustion can cause low mood and poor mental health. Making team meals free and available supports staff in taking care of themselves during their (often long) shifts. And cuts their costs.

    Providing mental health support

    Mental health support is key to a healthy workplace. Currently, 31% of hospitality professionals consider this a key workplace benefit. But only 24% of the sector receive this from their employer. Poor mental health can cause staff to perform poorly, and leave. By helping your staff, you help create a happy and enthusiastic environment. And there are incredible resources available to help you lead the way - like the team at The Burnt Chef Project.

    Who’s here to help?

    The Burnt Chef Project has been providing support and tackling the issues surrounding mental health and wellbeing in the hospitality industry since 2019.

    Their expert help, support services and tools are an invaluable resource in closing the gap in mental health support in the hospitality sector. Their advice comes from people in the know, chefs and hospitality leaders who know the pressures on the management and the staff from their own experience.

    They’re currently supporting the industry in over 122 countries and have a team of 170+ chef ambassadors who are helping the industry to better support their teams.

    Their focus – creating a culture of care and compassion.

    And through better education, support, and tooling, together they’re working with the industry to increase wellbeing and reduce burn out. This is increasing retention, lowering staff turnover, and protecting the industry professionals that we couldn’t be here without.

    The Burnt Chef Project provides some great resources that will help your business.

    Free text service

    The Burnt Chef support text service is available free, 24/7, for anyone in the hospitality industry who needs help. Text to openly and safely discuss mental health, bullying and other wellbeing issues.

    The Burnt Chef Academy

    With over 20,500 health and wellbeing modules completed worldwide, the Burnt Chef’s free academy courses provide knowledge and support which helps you support your team. It provides industry members with specific mental health knowledge and training.

    The Burnt Chef diagnostic tool

    In partnership with Peopleful, this tool helps you detect high levels of stress and burnout in your business. It also predicts the financial cost of these issues.

    Pledge to plan ahead and support your team's wellbeing

    How to make The Single Biggest Shift

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