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The Challenges of the Hospitality Sector on Mental Health

How is the Pressure of the Hospitality Sector affecting Mental Health?

Although so many people have struggled or are still struggling with mental health problems – and mental health has been a topic of continuous conversation, especially for the last two years – we are still choosing to overlook or ignore the pressures of maintaining a work-life balance as a contributing factor to our negative mental health.

Working in any industry comes with its own challenges – but working in the hospitality sector comes with its own set of additional stress and pressure: to get the job done efficiently as per the job requirement, to have it tailored to your client’s specific needs, and to make the impossible possible – however long it takes.

Service [without] a smile?

No matter how mentally happy you are – there is only so many demands one person can handle without an organised structure or a supportive culture. With all the challenges around the hospitality sector – high stress and burnout continue to be a significant problem amongst workers in the industry. And in turn, is unnoticeably affecting their performance, motivation and overall health and wellbeing.

For the most part, stress cannot be totally avoided at all times – some things in life are pretty – well, stressful [cue global pandemic]. But when stress becomes the main ingredient to navigate your work life, that’s when you know that changes need to happen.

So, is the workforce doing enough to manage and support employee mental health? And more specifically, is the hospitality industry doing everything they can to make sure that their employees are maintaining positive mental health and wellbeing?!

Pressures of the hospitality sector

The hospitality industry is constantly burdened by the expectation of high performance and delivery, which often comes with high stress, high pressure and tight deadlines. The top-notch service received is a reflection of the blood, sweat and tears poured into a picture perfect experience. So, it comes as no surprise that managers, leaders and employees in the hospitality sector face different mental health challenges.

“We learn from our mistakes” almost feels inapplicable in the hospitality sector.

In the hospitality industry – mistakes happen; but when and if they do, it releases immediate and increased stress levels for everyone involved. For example, if a mistake occurs between the waiter taking down the order and the customer receiving it – the anticipation of the already stressed manager or the HANGRY customer’s reactions alone can both trigger the waiter’s stress and increase incidents of verbal and emotional abuse.

No matter what job you hold in the hospitality industry, it is not going to be an “easy-going” career path – and without an effective number of staff, the right training, or active and continuous support it can lead to serious burnout and mental health illnesses such as anxiety, depression or substance abuse.

Many people in the hospitality sector face mental health and wellness issues – not every worker will experience similar challenges [i.e. line manager vs. employee], but they will all share the common experience of the pressure they face within the industry. 

Below are some of the challenges that people working in the hospitality sector are faced with:

  • Long hours and inconsistent hours – often without break
  • Inconsistent salaries and earnings
  • No benefits offered – i.e. insurance, mental health support, access to physical wellness facilities
  • Keeping up with late nights, after hours and partying
  • Stress, stress and more stress
  • Abusive and demanding customers
  • Poor sleep hygiene
  • Poor diet and no exercise
  • Poor management
  • Loneliness and isolation

If individual workers are struggling with the pressures and challenges of the industry – businesses, especially small businesses, will eventually suffer. So when employees’ low mental and physical health negatively affects personal development, interpersonal relationships and resilience – everybody involved in the business will be negatively affected, too.

So, can you level up in the workplace and start making those healthy lifestyle choices in the uncertainty of the hospitality industry – or are you doomed to endure the pressure forever?

The bad news is – we can’t change the industry. The good news is – we can help you make more positive and healthy choices.

How can you start making healthier lifestyle choices in the hospitality industry?  

Sometimes the pressure and expectations of our work can start to interfere with a healthy work-life balance, especially in the hospitality industry. Work can start to feel like a lifestyle and life could start to feel like work, work – and yes, you guessed it, work. So yeah, it can feel pretty easy to fall into a pattern of poor lifestyle choices when the hospitality sector has you overworked, overstressed and underpaid. Whether you’re up on your feet all day, partying as part of the job or “tolerating” customer insensitivity on a regular basis – it can be difficult to distinguish between a healthy lifestyle and one motivated by adrenaline and high stress.

How can you start making those healthy choices?

Here are several steps you can take to reduce stress and help you communicate mental distress in the workplace:

  • Seek support from a colleague
  • Practice breathing exercises
  • Keep up with a healthy diet
  • Make time for exercise and physical health
  • Prioritise your tasks
  • Focus on one task at a time
  • Take regular breaks in between shifts to create stability
  • Turn your phone off for a couple of hours – turn off all distractions
  • Communicate your boundaries
  • Communicate what you can and cannot do
  • Ask for help when you need it
  • Speak to a manager or supervisor

What can the workplace do to help you maintain positive mental health and wellbeing?

What can managers and leaders in the hospitality sector do to ensure that their employees are maintaining positive mental health and wellbeing?

Change doesn’t have to be big or immediate to be effective. Essentially, we are all looking to feel happy, appreciated, safe and secure within our work environment – so, creating small opportunities and benefits for employees can result in positive and significant changes within the industry, and help your team and business succeed long-term.

Below are a few tips on how to cultivate a healthy culture in the hospitality industry:

  • Ensure constant communication between management and workers
  • Ensure employees feel safe and supported
  • Encourage an open and honest work culture
  • Set healthy work-life boundaries
  • Nurture a consistent environment [especially when the industry is inconsistent in work hours, pay, etc.]
  • Offer weekly catch-ups with employees
  • Encourage employees to report their concerns
  • Manage the workload and prioritise employee tasks
  • Offer time for reflection
  • Offer additional support, guidance and mental health days
  • Offer time off or paid overtime
  • Make health and wellbeing a priority
  • Promote a mental health, wellbeing and people centered culture
  • Encourage employees to benefit from Mental Health and Physical Wellness [employee] benefits
  • Reassure employees of their value within the company

The pleasures of the hospitality industry come with nurturing and taking care of guests and people so that they may always feel happy, appreciated, safe and secure while spending time at your location. And employees deserve the same care and nurture, too!

After all, when an employee’s mental health and physical wellbeing are maintained, their positive attitude will reflect on how guests will be treated.

If you, your colleagues or employees continue to struggle with mental health issues as a result of the high stress and demand in the workplace, eQuoo can teach you these 10 skills to help you manage your day effectively and build resilience, interpersonal relationships and personal growth.

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Exercise
  3. Diet
  4. Boundaries
  5. Resource Mapping
  6. Nurturing Relationships
  7. Worthiness
  8. Sleep Hygiene
  9. Self-efficacy
  10. Emotion Detection

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