How to Support the Mental Health of Hospitality Workers
Four in five hospitality workers report experiencing high levels of stress directly related to their jobs. When you consider the nature of their jobs, it’s easy to see why. They work long hours, serve demanding customers and often deal with toxic work environments. Many turn to drugs and alcohol to soothe the stress and end up developing both substance abuse and mental health problems. It’s should come as no surprise, then, that nearly half of those in hospitality would recommend working in a different industry.
Some even take their own advice and quit, leaving coworkers to cover shifts and pick up the slack. Perhaps that’s why so many restaurants, bars and hotels experience such high turnover rates.
Luckily, there is a solution. By simply supporting employees’ mental health, businesses can increase retention, boost customer satisfaction and increase their bottom line. More importantly, they’ll create a happy, healthy work environment where team members don’t just survive but thrive.
Implement the following ideas to support workers’ mental health and watch both your employees and profits soar.
Offer Insurance Coverage
One of the best ways to support employees’ mental health is to provide health insurance. Two-thirds of Americans cite unexpected medical bills as their biggest worry — even bigger than the cost of rent, food and gas. Employers can alleviate their anxieties by simply offering health coverage to full-time workers. Sadly, most restaurants and hotels fail to do so because the Affordable Care Act doesn’t require that they offer benefits to teams of 50 or fewer employees.
Provide Mental Health Resources
Of course, if you do offer health care, make sure it covers mental health services, too. That way employees have access to therapists, medications and whatever else they may need. Provide job-specific mental health resources to teams and encourage engagement by asking for feedback, too.
For instance, you might ask employees to download an app like Calm for Business. This service offers team-based plans and pricing and provides data about how often employees interact with the app. The information will allow you to periodically reassess your benefits package and include resources that workers will put to good use.
Grant Days Off
Granting days off might seem like a no-brainer in other industries but, when you have a small team, to begin with, it’s hard to let people go. Even a single missing person could leave a restaurant severely understaffed, so you must try to plan for staff to take days off in advance. As long as employees abide by the policy, grant them days off, whether it be for personal reasons or to take a lavish vacation. That way they can come back feeling refreshed, mentally stable and ready to work.
Train Managers to Detect Emotional Distress
Most hospitality business owners and managers don’t receive any emotional intelligence training. Rather, they’re expected to know how to read people. After all, they work with the general public on a daily basis, so, ideally, they’ll have top-notch interpersonal skills. Even so, many won’t recognize the signs of mental health problems or co-occurring substance abuse disorders in their fellow workers.
Employees’ distress signals are typically subconscious and may vary depending on which disorders and addictions they have. For example, someone with anxiety might experience frequent bouts of nausea, excessive sweating and dizziness. Alcoholics and those going through withdrawal may exhibit the same symptoms. Managers trained in emotional distress detection will notice these red flags and uncover the real cause so they can help staff heal.
Check In With Workers
Last, but certainly not least, frequently check in with hospitality workers and inquire about their wellbeing. Make a point to ask about hobbies, passions and personal pursuits. What did they do last weekend? How is their family? Understanding your staff’s work-life balance — or lack thereof — can help you empathize with them and ultimately determine whether you need additional mental health policies in place.
Start a team text chain if you haven’t already and create opportunities to chat and bond outside of work. Having a small team means that some people may be unable to attend. However, if you host events frequently enough, everyone will have the chance to attend at least one. As long as you use it to engage with and better understand your employees, your efforts are sure to have a lasting impact on both team morale and your bottom line.
Happiness, Health and Superior Hospitality
Creating and implementing policies that support workers’ mental health benefits both your work environment and your business as a whole. Sure, providing care and resources comes at a price, but employers who invest in mental health ultimately see a fourfold return on whatever they spend. In other words, you’ll earn $4 — and superior hospitality — for every $1 you put towards improving employees’ health and happiness. Moreover, you’ll keep staff around longer and boost both customer and employee satisfaction. Now that’s certainly something worth smiling about.