Promoting wellbeing in the workplace
Hospitality is a people business. Without them the sector would be lost and looking after our people has to be top of the agenda. As things are changing on an almost daily basis, unless leaders and managers look after their people, the business will suffer.
Leaders should be tuned in to the wellbeing needs of their teams and by supporting and promoting wellbeing in the workplace, employers are not only doing the right thing but also enabling greater resilience, engagement and productivity across their teams.
We started by asking Jane Sunley what ‘wellbeing’ really means.
“Wellbeing is about being healthy and happy, how in control you feel, having a sense of purpose. Right now, one in four people in the UK has some kind of wellbeing issue.
As a leader, if you are not well or someone in your team is not well, you’re not going to perform in the right way and that impacts customer service, profitability and growth.”
During lockdown, hospitality pulled together to provide online support, everything from yoga classes to cocktail making. Focus has shifted back to the workplace and with it a loss of time for self-care and wellbeing.
“People have recalibrated their lives over the past few months and for some, their wellbeing has suffered. Employers are not going to know how their teams are doing unless they ask. This is a tough time for everybody, so employers need to work at ensuring their people are OK. Employees will remember who looked after them and did the right thing. We’re all human beings at the end of the day, and we all have our own stresses and strains.”
Business leaders are not mental health professionals
When it comes to wellbeing everyone is different. Some will strive to find out as much as they can, engage with online activities, spend time working on their own health. Others will retreat and many will struggle on, as best they can, for as long as they can.
Jane continued, “Business leaders are not health professionals and there needs to be a central place where employers can access wellbeing information, tools and advice to share with their teams.”
Overcoming feelings of guilt
Without further support from the government, there will inevitably be redundancies. “Employers are facing tough, difficult decisions. Some people will be coming back to work, some employers will be letting good people go which can result in a feeling of guilt, not only for employers but for those employees who keep their jobs.
We spend time building teams, working together every day and supporting each other. Watching team members leave can be devastating and have a very negative impact on wellbeing.”
Training the resilience muscle
Jane is a strong advocate of using soft skills in the workplace. “There is an accelerated need for softer skills, nurturing, listening. No one knows more about your business than the people on the front line and employers must be empathetic and compassionate to their needs.”
“You want your people to be resilient – resilience is like training your muscles to become stronger over time. Empathy is something that has to be practiced, especially in our hospitality environment.”
“Building resilience means looking after yourself, making sure you are in the best shape physically because if you’re not feeling strong, your wellbeing can suffer.“
To address the wellbeing crisis in hospitality PurpleCubed created ‘Wellbee’, a tool individuals can use to self-diagnose their wellbeing, and employers can use to check in on the wellbeing of their teams, across a whole range of areas.
Leaders and managers using Wellbee don’t have to second guess how strong, healthy and resilient their employees are feeling. If someone needs support, Wellbee offers signposting and suggestions on what actions to take to help improve mental health and wellbeing. Importantly Wellbee also lets leaders and managers check in with their own wellbeing.
As we move towards winter and hospitality faces further challenges, wellbeing may get overlooked. The benefits of an engaged, healthy and happy workforce impact the bottom line through engagement, positivity and productivity. Ensuring everyone’s wellbeing ultimately will ensure the wellbeing of the whole hospitality sector.
Wellbeing Top Tips
We asked Jane for her top three tips for leaders to help them build a well and resilient workforce.
- Keep the communication going. Keeping people informed is critical to wellbeing and looking at every stage of the employee journey is fundamental. Think about how your actions and words might affect someone’s wellbeing and adjust your approach using soft skills such as empathy and compassion.
- Look for solutions that already exist and partner with organisations that can provide support, for instance, Hospitality Action. HA’s Employee Assistance programme is a care package that provides support to employers and a range of specialist, independent and confidential support services to employees. Members can access these services in complete confidence, 24 hours a day.
- Be adaptable and strong. Post COVID we can’t do things the way we did before as it just doesn’t work in the changing work environment. Being physically and mentally well will help you overcome workplace challenges far easier than if you’re feeling low and overwhelmed.
Watch our Leadership Collaborative live session