The reality in your early years can be a high intensity of work in many roles, and we should all be aware there is a huge issue regarding mental health challenges in the industry. Many people experience anxiety, depression or burnout and leave the industry. It doesn’t have to be this way, so we’re exploring the reasons for this problem and providing methods for reducing stress across hospitality.
For employees who work directly with customers, put yourself first. It is crucial to look after your own mental health as your number one goal. Your responsibilities include providing your service with a smile no matter your personal situation, which prevents you from addressing your emotions and can lead to mental health issues. 74% of hospitality workers report being abused by customers, and with the rise in popularity of social media and review sites such as TripAdvisor, customers have long felt empowered to leave negative reviews online. The feeling of being constantly scrutinised and judged only adds to the pressure of work and staff are under pressure to act in a manner that does not negatively impact the business.
Furthermore, working 70 hours a week is not uncommon in hospitality, and the long intense hours are a big contributor to poor mental health. The hospitality industry is notorious for demanding long hours and added non-paid work as a requirement. We all go beyond the minimum and put in extra hours to satisfy our guests and complete our work, which isn’t sustainable given everything else in our lives – family, friends and our own hobbies and health.
How do we improve mental health in the hotel industry?
We’ve worked with industry experts to bring you our top three tips to reduce our negative impact on mental health in the industry.
1. Compulsory mental well-being courses
Good mental health involves looking out for ourselves and for those around us. Get help on this from the experts. For any business; courses on how to improve mental health should be given to all employees. Kelly’s Cause hospitality-specific ‘Mental Health First Aid’ courses look at mental health in hospitality specifically and are a useful resource for educating employees on the principles of mental wellbeing in a hospitality environment. These types of courses will also help managers flag mental health issues in employees before they arise, as well as provide a better working environment for everyone.
2. Reasonable working hours
The following four methods relating to working hours can be practised in hotels in order to improve mental health:
- Staff should be allowed to have regular breaks within shifts to create a more stable work routine.
- Working shifts should be distributed fairly among employees and take into account holidays, personal lives and external commitments.
- If a staff member works extra hours, they should be given time off in lieu.
- Abolish the opting out of the 48-hour clause in contracts.
Elephant Ventures has been doing 4-day work weeks since 2016 in the Philippines, something that more organisations than ever are now trying. Since they commenced this initiative, they have noticed an increase in productivity across the board because their workers feel that they can balance their work-life schedules effectively.
3. Effective management practices
71% of hospitality workers complain about a lack of management direction. Providing regular evaluations and feedback sessions where employees can voice their concerns would improve the working life of staff. Stigma often stops people from coming forward about their poor mental health, which can be improved by creating an environment where it can be openly talked about without the fear of losing your job or being seen as weak or unstable. Offering people a mentor, perhaps from outside the organisation, can often provide support and guidance, without any fear of what’s said, which helps people keep the hospitality passion alive and can help them look after themselves and give them tools to raise issues with their managers.
Looking outside our industry, Google is a prime example of having created an environment that welcomes feedback. After launching a variety of different programs to increase employee engagement and happiness, they managed to increase employee satisfaction by 37%. In turn, this led to better workplace performance and lower turnover rates.
Furthermore, Intercontinental Hotels Group has partnered with ‘R U OK?’ to work on removing the stigma concerning poor mental health. R U OK? is an Australian suicide prevention charity that aims to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with the people around them and lend support.
4. What is Burnout and how do we handle it?
Burnout includes symptoms of feeling completely exhausted, irritable, anxious or having a lack of motivation for your job. It Is important that employers recognise these signs and are able to have an honest, open conversation with their employees. Burnout may lead to negative consequences for the business and employee in question, such as a dip in work performance, leading to disciplinary action. Employees may feel nervous about talking to their supervisor to request leave; however, having even one day off can help the employee to feel rejuvenated and motivated.
‘So Let’s Talk’ is a not-for-profit platform with a mission to raise awareness on all aspects of mental, physical and financial health inside the hospitality industry through providing education, events, training and activities. Founder Patrick Howley emphasises the importance of addressing burnout so that it doesn’t lead to long-term health consequences including alcoholism and drug use.
Improving mental health in the hotel industry will lead to greater stability and success for businesses and improve the lives of employees.
This initiative should be a shared goal between all employees in the industry in order to make employees feel more valued and jobs more rewarding. All aspects of mental health, including emotional, psychological and social well-being affects how employees think, feel and act, and each needs a support system to address any problems.