Spa & wellness Irregular hours can also lead to isolation and

loneliness. “Because you work outside of the nine to five office hours, you not only feel excluded from society, you can quite easily become excluded from friends and family,” he says. In addition, poor nutrition has ironically become a

mainstay of the hospitality sector. “It’s built into those phrases like ‘never trust a skinny chef’,” Etherington- Judge says. Some US studies have also shown that hospitality has the highest level of drug abuse of any industry and the third-highest rate of alcohol abuse, while bartenders are more likely to die of alcohol- related disease than any other type of worker. “Drinking is never the cause of the problem. It’s either the result of an existing problem or it amplifies existing problems,” says Etherington-Judge. “It’s the ease of access that makes it a problem.” Of course, all of this is stacked on top of an industry

Tim Etherington-Judge founded Healthy Hospo in 2018 to try and improve the wellbeing of hospitality workers.

from other people in the hospitality industry telling similar stories. Because he had opened up and been vulnerable, they felt they could too. Research from Hospitality Action, a charity that offers mental health support to employees in the industry, shows that they weren’t the only ones suffering in silence. A 2018 survey revealed that four out of five hospitality employees found their job stressful some or most of the time, and half found it stressful most or all of the time. Four out of five also believed stress levels had increased in the past three years, while over half (56%) did not make employers aware of their mental health problems. It is even more concerning that suicide – already

the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK – disproportionately affects hospitality workers. “Hospitality is an all-consuming industry to work


Hospitality staff did not make their employers aware of their mental health problems.

Hospitality Action 64

in – more of a vocation than a job,” says Mark Lewis, CEO of Hospitality Action. “It still often demands long hours, total dedication and hard physical work. The adrenaline rushes and crashes of service can send stress levels soaring. In terms of reputation, the stakes are higher than ever: thanks to social media, you’re only as good as your last dish, cocktail or guest stay, placing employees under constant pressure to deliver to the highest possible standards.” Etherington-Judge founded Healthy Hospo in 2018 to try and build a healthier, happier hospitality industry. He says that starts with sleep – arguably one of the biggest issues for hospitality employees. “If you work in an office, you work nine to five every day; your entire working world is set up around a natural circadian rhythm,” he explains. “In hospitality, you’re often awake when your body wants to be asleep and vice versa. Sleep is the recovery process for the body and mind, it’s a fundamental biological need.”

built on unequal financial foundations. “It’s not just the frontline workers who get paid the lowest pay of any workers in the industry; it’s also the owners and operators who are working on very thin margins,” says Etherington-Judge. “When something like Covid comes along and everything is forced to close, there’s no rainy-day fund and the industry collapses.”

Rebuild the industry All that said, Etherington-Judge wouldn’t have founded Healthy Hospo if he didn’t believe things could change. In fact, he believes Covid has given the sector a chance to rebuild itself in a healthier, more compassionate – and more profitable – way. “Embracing that opportunity is really key as we come out of this. We need to ask ourselves what kind of industry we want to work in,” he says. “If you look at the corporate world over the last ten

to 15 years, they’ve realised that their staff are their number one asset and that investing in staff delivers multiples for their bottom line. Although hospitality is one of the most people-focused businesses you can find, it hasn’t done that to the same extent.” According to Jeremy McCarthy, group director of

spa and wellness at Mandarin Oriental, this is partly because of the difficulty of measuring the ROI of employee wellbeing programmes. While hotel groups that deliver these initiatives generally believe they have a positive effect on employee performance and the bottom line, he believes, it’s harder to gauge the direct impact of improved mental wellbeing compared with physical health. The knock-on effect is an environment where employees feel unable to put their hand up and talk openly about their mental health challenges. “‘It’s time to talk’ has to become a pan-industry mantra,” Lewis stresses. “When people internalise mental wellness challenges, they’re more likely to grow and manifest themselves in symptoms

Hotel Management International /

Healthy Hospo

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