The gradual reopening of hospitality over the past few weeks has been a significant signal of better times – meeting friends, enjoying food and drink that you cannot have at home and generally soaking in the feeling of the return of normality.
However, behind the scenes, a staffing crisis within the sector is a real challenge.
Hospitality does have a reputation of staff working long, antisocial hours and dealing with difficult customers as well as it being a somewhat physically demanding and often low-paying job. A year of uncertainty, furlough, increased risk of infection and last-minute closures has only exacerbated these issues as jobseekers may be avoiding the sector in search of more stable and safer employment. Furthermore, Brexit has caused many European nationals previously working in the industry to return to their home countries.
As the country reopens to both citizens and international visitors, an adequately staffed hospitality sector is essential not just for the industry, but for the wider supply chain. To attract and retain staff, it is now vital that employers are making a conscious effort to support employee wellbeing and offer additional staff benefits to attract and retain workers.
Some businesses have increased wages and offer other financial incentives and while this is a good move for an industry that is known for low wages, support for hospitality employees should go beyond this. By being creative with their employee benefits offering, employers will improve staff satisfaction, morale and retention which may be crucial to the survival of their business.
It is no secret that hospitality staff frequently come under fire from disgruntled customers and that these exchanges can be unkind and may leave team members upset, low and feeling less resilient. Similarly, amid busy service tensions between staff can run high and lead to stressed encounters between colleagues.
Offering stress and resilience training will give staff the tools they need to handle difficult situations, reduce the effects they have on them and allow them to protect their mental wellbeing while developing their confidence.
Employees can take an active part in developing their own resilient mindsets by discussing issues with supervisors and by reframing challenging situations to look like a learning opportunity and to discuss ways to grow and develop as an individual and as a team.
Employers can also support staff resilience by recognising that they have handled a difficult situation well and reassuring them that it is not necessarily a reflection of them or their capabilities. In combination with mental health resources, stress and resilience training will go a long way in protecting employees’ wellbeing.
Talks and workshops offered by Wrkit will give teams the tools they need to grow, develop resilience and manage the challenges that they face throughout the day through practical workshops and coaching sessions.
In addition, the self-help tools on the POWR platform will help employees build resilience and improve wellbeing. The platform allows employees to take control over their health and wellness through Self Awareness, Goal-Setting and ongoing Self-Monitoring.
Recognition is not just a tool to build resilience, but it also makes employees feel valued in their role which improves overall job satisfaction.
Wrkit’s recognition module is a fantastic tool for promoting this and creating a culture of mutual support and celebration between the team to help everyone to feel appreciated and respected. This should span from management down and between both back and front of house staff.
Spending hours on your feet, working busy shifts and keeping on top of what customers need and want throughout the day sounds exhausting, but in reality, it stimulates your brain and makes it hard to transition out of “work mode”.
Employers should encourage staff to unwind at the end of their shift, whether that is sitting down and having a drink before going home, providing a quiet space to sit at the end of the day and process the shift before leaving, or giving access to mindfulness or meditation tools.
These switching off practices are especially important for employees working late night shifts as failure to do so could leave them awake until the early hours of the morning and not getting enough rest.
Sleeping and resting
The hospitality industry is known for long, late hours and often a lack of breaks. While it is understandable, especially in the face of a staffing crisis, that staff cannot always take a break during a busy service, managers must ensure they are doing everything in their power to give their staff a reasonable amount of downtime.
Getting a good amount of sleep is critical to performing well at work and maintaining mental wellbeing. Late-night hospitality venues in particular must consider this. Avoid putting staff on shifts that require an early start after a late finish and explore options to help staff rest quicker after a shift, such as mindfulness or meditation resources.
Megan Sowney, Wrkit’s UK Managing Director, said: “Hospitality staff face challenging situations every day, but these challenges have been amplified in recent weeks. The public have missed eating and drinking out, so have descended on establishments in huge numbers. This combined with staffing issues means that hospitality workers are working incredibly hard, and this is likely to take its toll on mental health.
“Employers must ensure they are taking care of their staff, or they could end up losing them to other businesses or industries, which could have dire implications. The hospitality industry needs staff to operate, and it needs staff who are not burnt out to run well.
“Businesses that look after the wellbeing of current staff, re-evaluate the current industry standards and offer an attractive employee benefits package will enjoy higher levels of retention and an improved employer reputation, aiding recruitment.”