The hospitality industry plays a huge role not just in the country’s economy but also in its mental health. How many times have we all gone on an escape to relax, unwind, and free ourselves from our mental burdens? These were only made possible through the hard work of the people within the industry.
But has anyone stopped to consider their mental health condition? According to the Royal Society of Public Health in the UK, almost 85% of people working in the hospitality industry are suffering from severe stress, and are therefore at an increased mental health risk.
These numbers also reflect the dip in the demand for hospitality careers since in the same research it was also found that 45% of the respondents don’t recommend working in the industry to other people.
Don’t get us wrong. Being members of the hospitality industry ourselves, we take pride in our work and recognize that our profession isn’t all bad. There are aspects in this career that can empower one’s mental health a well. Hence, in this article, we want to examine both of these mental health aspects一the negatives and the positives alike.
The Negative Side of Hospitality Work on Mental Health
For your easy reference, we have decided to divide our main points into subtopics that you’ll find below, starting with the negative aspects followed by the positive.
The Collective Culture
The first aspect that plays a huge role in the negative mental burden of hospitality workers is the collective culture of the industry itself.
It attracts creative people in general, and they are more sensitive to their own feelings and that of other people. This is considered a strength since it makes hospitality workers more attuned to the needs of their guests. However, it can also make them more prone to developing depression and anxiety.
Hard work and perfectionism are also part of the industry culture. Hospitality workers are not just prone to work long hours because of the demands of their work but due to their innate work ethics as well.
The problem is, fatigue can also trigger stress and other mental health issues.
In relation to the previously mentioned point, feeling stress and exhaustion can make us hospitality workers more prone to feeling a sense of resentment and shame when serving others that are currently enjoying their rest and relaxation.
Underpayment is also a factor that contributes to this problem; the stress and negative emotions of being in a luxurious facility that you won’t be able to afford.
Of course, let us not forget the attitude of guests towards hospitality workers that can further aggravate the issue.
The Positive Side of Hospitality Work on Mental Health
As mentioned above, the hospitality industry isn’t all bad. There’s a reason why there are a lot of hospitality workers who stay passionate in their careers (even those who wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to other people).
There are two aspects that we particularly find empowering.
First is the nature of the job. There is power in providing service to other people. You know what makes guests feel vulnerable or uncomfortable. In fact, this is the reason why guests go irate at times because they’re hungry or tired and they’re scared that they won’t receive the level of service that they need. That in itself can feel empowering already.
Caring for other people also teaches you how to care for yourself. It makes it easier to allow yourself to enjoy service and care from other people, making you more emotionally stable and mentally healthy.
Finally, we can’t ignore the pride and satisfaction we get in seeing that our service was enjoyed and appreciated. There’s joy in knowing that the guests had a good time even if you only had a back-office role.
These feelings can make all of that hard work worthwhile, and can even provide natural stress relief.
This can then create a sense of purpose and fulfillment that can be difficult to achieve from other industries otherwise.
What Can Be Done?
So now that we know that there’s a positive side to it as well, let us talk about what we can do about the negative aspects to improve the mental health of hospitality workers, the service that they provide their guests, and the future of the industry in general.
Here are just some ways to do so:
Time Management Is Key
Just providing ample break times spread out across an extended shift can already create a significant impact for the better.
We also recommend employers to distribute the work hours evenly regardless of the position to make a more positive working environment.
Lastly, planning leaves according to your employees’ family events show care and attention as well as provide a better work-life balance.
Provide Better Training
Employees in leadership positions should receive proper training on their role in maintaining their team members’ mental health.
Hold Everyone Accountable
It is everyone’s job to stay vigilant against unjust power play, bullying, and more even if these are committed by the guests themselves. It is crucial to remember that employees deserve the same amount of respect, from the lowest worker to the VIP guest.
Improve Employee Facilities
Making common rooms clean, aesthetically pleasing, and fully equipped have positive benefits too. They can make hospitality workers feel that all they need to worry about is taking care of the guests since the management is already doing its best to take care of them. Plus points if you can hire an in-house counselor to further improve your employees’ mental state.
Finally, there are programs, services, and even mobile applications that are designed to improve employees’ mental health regardless of the industry they belong to. Our personal favorites are podcast channels that your employees can listen to before they start their shift.
These are certainly not the only ways to improve the mental health of hospitality workers, but we hope that we have given you some ideas to start with.