Ensuring that customers receive the best possible service and experience at every venue they attend is something that persistently puts staff under a lot of stress and pressure. There’s currently lots of technology and equipment, such as kitchen lifts, in the catering industry that makes our jobs that little bit easier, with tablets to take orders being another technological edition. However, it’s still a high pressure working environment.
The little respite that is offered to employees as well as long working hours can cause physical and mental wellbeing issues. Research by Mind reported that 45 per cent of workers felt that they are expected to cope with work stress in silence, and 31 per cent felt that they couldn’t openly talk to their line manager if they felt stressed.
Throughout this article, we will highlight some of the main causes for stress and how they can be dealt with properly in the catering workplace.
How to Define Stress
There are a hugely diverse variety of ways symptoms of stress can show. It is the body’s reaction to pressures and changes which can result in physical, emotional, and mental stress. The stress hormone cortisol is released which puts us in fight or flight mode, where we feel overwhelmed for a period of time. Stress can of course be a normal part of life and can often be useful in small amounts for helping us get motivated to accomplish tasks efficiently, even boosting memory.
Short terms stress can be a cause of having to give a speech to several people or having to complete a test, however after this stress subsides, we go back to feeling normal with no adverse health effects. However, too much stress can be detrimental to us, causing us to not feel like ourselves and unable to cope. Symptoms of too much stress are:
- Inability to concentrate
- Chest pain
- Body aches and pains
- Frequent colds
- Low energy
- Changes in appetite
- Feeling depressed
How you deal with these feelings of stress and anxiety is what is important. The best approach to take is to try to acknowledge and understand symptoms, reduce stress, and perhaps seek help.
Service with a Smile
The high stress environment that the catering industry inevitably entails will be no stranger to those that have worked in this sector before. Through a combination of busy bars, challenging customers, lugging food out and in the kitchen, then the endless cleaning afterwards, it almost seems impossible to comprehend. There’s a lack of control working in this industry, particularly with working long hours on weekends, busy festive periods that we’d prefer to spend with our families, often expected to work at short notice, and interference with our personal and social lives.
Workers having the constant worry of money is also a common cause for stress — with some employers relying on zero-hour contracts, others paying poorly, and tips being held by bosses instead. The additional stress of finances on top of working hard in a high stress environment will be a key cause of stress.
A further strain on short notice shifts will occur if employee morale and productivity is low due to stress in staff as well as more sick days being taken. So, what can be done to help manage stress?
Stress Reduction Techniques
An organisation that focus on employee satisfaction, Perkbox, found that 64 per cent of hospitality businesses don’t offer any solutions to alleviate feelings of stress. With more strategies implemented to improve the working environment, both the employers and business will flourish.
The above statistics suggest that it’s essential communication is opened in the catering sector between managers and staff members by offering one-to-one meetings to create a supportive environment workers feel comfortable talking in if they are stressed. Trying to reduce the stigma around stress and encouraging staff to come forward with any problems they’re having will help create a network of help and trust. Happy employees are hardworking employees!
Many young transitional workers choose a job in the catering sector, so there aren’t that many benefits such as health insurance. What many employers don’t know about is employee assistance programmes — affordable, effective forms of stress counselling to help support workers’ health and wellbeing. If as an employer you’re unsure about how to deal with supporting your workers, contact Mind or Samaritans for free advice.