Introducing our guest blogger Gordon McIntyre, the founder of Hospitality Health. Today, he'll answer the question we've all been asking ourselves - 'How can you support your employee's mental wellbeing?'.
Instead of heading into a new year with takings from the festive season in the bank, the prospects for the sector have regressed because of Omicron. Moreover, the new variant's emergence in November sparked a wave of cancellations as people were encouraged by the Scottish Government to limit socialising.
The year started with a cloud over it. The cost of goods has surged on the back of global supply chain disruption. What's more, wage inflation has spiralled amid ongoing labour shortages, and energy prices are going through the roof. There would also appear to be no immediate sign of the conference market bouncing back. The so-called “in-person” events were beginning to take place again last year, but less than before the pandemic. So, long as the work-from-home advice remains in place in Scotland, the conference market will remain subdued.
How Can You Support Employees in Difficult Periods?
We live in a world where we have lots of special “days”. ‘Mental health awareness day’, ‘Pizza day’, ‘World whisky day’, ‘Mother’s day’ etc. I firmly believe that in the workplace we should not look at “Days” but provide support for staff’s mental being every day of the year!
It has been an extraordinary period, this past 24 months for us all.
Here in Scotland, we at Hospitality Health have been delighted to work with Hospitality Industry Trust. We managed the promotion and delivery of several courses funded by the Tourism Recovery Fund, supported by Skills Development Scotland. The courses cover the following areas:
- Training of staff to deliver ‘In house training’ of Mental Health First Aiders
- Certificated training for staff to become Mental Health First Aiders
- Training for staff to have awareness in wellbeing and mental health issues
- Training for staff to have awareness of resilience techniques
The training and information for businesses demonstrate how the culture can change the wellbeing of employees for the better.
We had 120 places available over the 5 courses and were overwhelmed to receive over 270 registrations, quite incredible. We are requesting further funding to try to offer further programmes.
What this highlighted very clearly is that individuals and businesses are now ranking wellbeing of employees extremely high now. Not before time I hear you shout!
Support Their Mental Fitness
Having staff attend the courses we have promoted, is the first step in making it clear that you have a strategy in place to support your team’s mental fitness. However, what if you have not been able to access one of these places, what can you do now?
The first thing to consider is offering an Employee Assistance Programme. Hospitality Health recommends the one offered by Hospitality Action. For a small annual fee, staff will have access to 24/7 support as well as support for managers and supervisors in dealing with difficult conversations.
Line managers should be encouraged to have “conversations that count” with their staff. What do I mean by this? – We often just ask the question “how are you?” which is not always helpful in getting the best answer, how about asking something like the following: When did you last have something to eat? – what did you have? Or How did you sleep last night? Or You don’t seem yourself, do you fancy a chat? And truly listen to the response, open it up for a conversation. Such questions and the offer of your time demonstrates genuine concern for wellbeing and mental fitness.
Quality Time With Your Team
How many of you encourage the team to go for a walk together, visit the gym together, or all have time off at the same time. You should consider closing a Monday or Tuesday and get the team involved in a healthy activity every so often.
During lockdown and the period of furlough, many businesses held coffee morning chats, to talk about everything but the business – how many have continued something like that? – why not start that back up again, but face to face!
Create a buddy system, not for training as you may have in place, but pairing the employees up to look out for each other’s wellbeing, - to message or meet for coffee regularly.
Why not explore the opportunity of placing all staff on 4 day working week instead of a 5 or 6 day working week?
If there is one thing we can be grateful for, following the covid pandemic, it’s that we are becoming a more thoughtful and caring industry that demonstrates kindness and compassion towards its employees. I have heard of so many businesses who have made changes to the working conditions and created benefits to attract and retain their staff. So, how can you support your employees? Stay compassionate.