In a survey by luxury hospitality recruiter The Change Group of 246 people working in London’s top hospitality businesses, one in five workers cited smoking (23%) and alcohol (22%) as the main routes to relieving stress in the workplace. Eight out of 10 people surveyed said they had experienced stress at work.
Around one in eight respondents (12%) take exercise to relieve stress, one in 11 (9%) sleep, and one in 25 (4%) see friends or meditate. One in 50 workers (2%) will eat to ease stress and around one in seven (15%) will simply do nothing.
Long and anti-social hours were the main reason given as the primary cause of stress at work (45% of respondents), with demanding employers (19%) and kitchen culture (18%) being the two next most important factors. Even front of house employees cited long hours as a more significant cause of stress (30%) than demanding customers (26%).
With so many hospitality employees feeling pressure at work, it is perhaps not a surprise that more than one in three workers (36%) left their previous job to find a better work-life balance.
“Hospitality can be a very rewarding industry that provides opportunities for being creative and entrepreneurial,” said Craig Allen, founder and director of The Change Group. “However, hospitality is also very hard work, and the hours can be long and anti-social. Improving work-life balance is now one of the top three priorities for many of the top London-based restaurants and hospitality businesses that we recruit for. Employers are looking at how they can better structure rotas, flexibility and benefits to create the best environment for employees to thrive. But as an industry, we all need to work together to do more. We very much support Andrew Clarke’s recently launched Pilot Light initiative and Hospitality Action, which both raise awareness and support hospitality workers experiencing mental health issues.”
As part of industry-wide efforts to support change in the working culture of hospitality businesses, The Change Group’s recent Meat Vs Fish event raised nealy £5,000 for Hospitality Action, a charity that offers vital assistance to those who work or have worked in UK hospitality and who find themselves in crisis.
Mark Lewis, chief executive of Hospitality Action, said, “This new data shows once again that stress is part of everyday life in hospitality environments. While some people thrive on it, many do not, and it can lead to serious health issues which in turn impact on individuals’ lives at home and at work. The fact that so many people said that their antidote to stress is either cigarettes or alcohol, and that so few workers are taking time to exercise, sleep and use mindfulness techniques, means that basic levels of education are still required. At Hospitality Action, we are committed to supporting hospitality professionals, no matter what type of difficulty they face. At a corporate level, we urge employers to subscribe to our Employee Assistance Programme and ensure their work force remains happy, healthy and work-ready.”