Stress in the Hospitality Sector
The nature of work in the hospitality sector tends to hold irregular working hours and a large amount of pressure. Some mental health professionals state that this is indeed to the effect that substance abuse and mental health issues are not uncommon in this field of work.
If the above factors do not manifest in the workers, it is still highly likely that they have experienced a high level of stress at their workplace. While being a normal part of life, stress levels that are painfully high tend to manifest from fears that one can’t cope, or that failure to reach excessive standards is inevitable.
Among many of the challenges that employees of the hospitality sector face, the most common would be emotional demands, repetitive work, overtly negative or long interactions with guests, hard deadlines, sudden changes to new urgent demands, a low influence of the practices and environment they work in, and problems with coordination of shifts.
It is a common fact however that stress is unavoidable, and is even a part of life, with a common mantra being ‘Calm seas don’t make strong sailors’. While this may be true, stress levels that are too high tend to cause more damage than they do growth, often leading to depression, anxiety, panic attacks and even psychosomatic symptoms such as nausea. The long lasting nature of this stress is counterproductive to even how the human body functions with cortisol. This would cause the above mentioned symptoms, and in turn, reduce performance and efficiency.
Some of the main instigators of these high stress levels include but are not limited to:
- Management and negative colleagues
- Unrealistic demands and workloads
- Large projects
The first point highlights how the work environment and relationships play a massive role in workplace morale, overall motivation and energy. The hardest situation relating to this is where an individual is working for bosses they dislike and who dislike them, along with colleagues from which they are either exclude, or maltreated or berated. To add workplace ethics into the mix, shady business practices can sometimes hammer more stress into workers with a strong moral compass.
The second part of the relationships involves praise and recognition. While workers are not children who ask for cookies after a task completed, respect and recognition for their work (essentially being given credit for their efforts) goes a long way to workplace morale and mental wellbeing.
Based on the results of countless studies on this subject, a first move to help manage stress in the hospitality sector would be to create a work environment where recognition and reward/respect is fostered, fairness and equality amongst workers is demonstrated, and employee relations are held high. To address the final two points, having a strong number of employees to distribute high workloads with less strain would also aid to not overburden workers with tasks they simply cannot perform with their given resources.
All of this is obviously easier said than done, but saying is one step forward to doing. With the strong work demands of this sector, it is of a high priority to nurture people well, and foster a more positive energy in the workplace for the benefit of all involved.
Institute of Hospitality. (2018). Digital Loyalty. Hospitality Quarterly(47), p. 18.