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Hospitality workers facing growing mental health crisis

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Nearly 9 out of 10 hospitality workers have experienced symptoms of poor mental health, including disturbed sleep, anxiety, and depression as a direct result of their work, according to a new report. 

The Biggest Shift: How to improve retention in hospitality, launched by workforce management solution Planday, surveyed over 2,000 workers based in hospitality, retail and care, including 1,022 Gen Z workers.

It reveals that despite many workers joining the hospitality industry with a sense they can positively impact people’s lives, the sentiment quickly fades as the stresses of the job catch up. 

Much of this stress is being driven by poor planning, with over half (54%) of hospitality employees surveyed stating that not knowing when they will be needed at work next regularly causes them stress, and 52% reporting that irregular shift patterns affect their mental health as it prevents them from exercising or taking up hobbies.

Worryingly, despite these figures, only a quarter (25%) of workers have access to mental health support in their job. Likewise, despite two-thirds (67%) of workers stating that more advanced notice of shift patterns would improve their lives, nearly three-quarters (69%) receive less than a week’s notice of their next rota. 

On the findings of this report, The Burnt Chef Project founder, Kris Hall, commented: “This research shines a spotlight on the mental health crisis impacting the hospitality industry, which is being compounded by a lack of work/life balance, long hours and poor communication. At the same time, hospitality bosses are dealing with an acute skills shortage – caused by high turnover of staff. This is leaving managers with little time to develop new skills around culture, performance, retention, career progression and advanced rota management to support their teams. 

“We don’t believe in a blame culture for hospitality, but this report does raise some questions about what we need to do as an industry to create a healthier working environment. One that champions a better work/life balance, the importance of giving teams an opportunity to plan their lives better with effective rota management and, ultimately, recognises wellbeing as one of the key components to building a profitable and sustainable business model.”

As well as identifying mental health as an issue, the report also reveals a myriad of issues facing the hospitality industry including staffing challenges. 

Currently, 61% of UK hospitality businesses have a staff shortage, which has left two-fifths (40%) reducing their opening hours, causing a knock-on effect to their bottom line. This is being driven by the fact that only 46% of workers surveyed feel fairly compensated for their role, just 48% are satisfied with their employee benefits, and 51% feel valued and listened to by their employer. 

These factors could be one of the reasons why over half (56%) of hospitality workers surveyed typically stay in their roles for six months or less. 51% also admit they are planning to leave their current job in the immediate future. However, these workers are clear about what employers can do to retain them, with 29% of employees demanding better work/life balance, 24% wanting better managerial support on progression, and 24% asking for clearer communication on rotas and more advanced notice on shifts.

Speaking on the findings Dave Lee, CEO of Planday, commented, “The hospitality sector is one of the most important industries to the UK economy, but right now, it’s facing major staffing challenges, which are affecting its future growth. 

“Employers need to listen to their workers better if they want to attract and retain the best talent. By improving mental health support, creating progression plans for workers, and using technology to better plan ahead, managers can take significant steps to creating a better working environment, and create a more resilient business for the future. This report offers guidance on how they can begin this journey, and I hope will prove a valuable resource for businesses across the sector. ” 

Read the full report here

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