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Serving Well-being: Reflections of a Reluctant Landlady

Updated: Apr 17

I’ll be honest with you, there were times when I found running my own business incredibly stressful.  Not just because our business was supporting 50 staff, many of whom lived under our roofs.  Cash flow was often tight, challenges were non-stop, and it was a big responsibility.  I’m sure many business owners across different sectors can identify with that.

However, working in hospitality has its own unique set of challenges.  Behind the scenes of this vibrant industry lies a less discussed reality: the high-pressure environment that can significantly impact the mental and physical well-being of those who work tirelessly to serve others.

Understanding Stress in the Hospitality Sector

The hospitality industry, known for its dynamic and demanding nature, presents unique challenges to its workforce. From the kitchen staff to front-of-house teams, employees often face long hours, high customer expectations, and the constant pressure to perform flawlessly. Such conditions can lead to significant stress, affecting not just job satisfaction and performance but also personal lives and health. On top of this, workers often miss family gatherings on special occasions because they were working.  Their social lives often suffer, and peer pressure can be intense, working in small teams with cover often difficult to find.

I was very proud of our teams.  Nearly everyone worked with incredible resilience and dedication, but the prevalence of stress and related mental health issues within the industry cannot be overlooked.  Over the years, we had members of staff who I realised had a drinking problem, often to mask deeper issues.  I had to dismiss a couple of them for drinking on the job or stealing alcohol.  There were some with drug issues, again, I suspect the root cause was often to mask mental health issues, although maybe some had well-being issues because of their habits. Sometimes I felt like I was an agony aunt, listening to tales of family breakdowns, abuse and previous toxic work environments.

Highlighting The Burnt Chef Project

Yesterday, I visited the Pub Show in Excel in London.  It was great to meet members of the the Burnt Chef Project, a beacon of support and advocacy for mental health in the hospitality sector. The theme of their stand was ‘addressing the elephant in the room’.  Founded on the principle that no one should suffer in silence, this initiative seeks to banish the stigma associated with mental health issues in the industry. Through awareness campaigns, resources, and training programs, The Burnt Chef Project aims to create a healthier, more supportive work environment for everyone in hospitality. Their efforts include providing access to professional support, offering educational resources to employers and employees alike, and fostering a community where individuals can share experiences and find solidarity.

Strategies for Managing Stress

Whether you are a stressed business owner or a hospitality employee, here are a few strategies that can help:

  • Prioritise Self-Care: Encourage regular breaks, adequate rest, and activities that promote well-being outside of work.

  • Seek Support: Utilise resources like those provided by The Burnt Chef Project, and don't hesitate to reach out to peers or professionals for help.

  • Foster a Supportive Culture: Employers can play a crucial role by creating a work environment that values well-being, offers flexibility, and encourages open conversations about mental health. They could also buy into the Burnt Chef’s EAP scheme which is exceptionally cheap with great rewards.

Stress in the hospitality sector is a pressing issue that requires our collective attention and action. By supporting initiatives like The Burnt Chef Project, we can help ensure that those who work to make our dining and travel experiences memorable are supported and valued.

Visit The Burnt Chef Project website for resources, stories, and ways to get involved.

Liz King, the business owner stood next to Burnt Chef volunteer in front of a statue of an elephant - meaning the elephant in the room
The Burnt Chef Project

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