It's time for employers to safeguard their staff's mental wellbeing

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 18th April 2019

Kitchen staffing shortages are putting huge strain on catering establishments. Chefs tell me the situation is getting worse. Now is the time to address this — and one solution is to tackle the problems that underlie it.

Chefs work long and unsociable hours under stressful conditions. That’s always been the case and, let’s face it, isn’t likely to change. The challenge now is how to make the the environment they work in better and healthier.

Managing staff wellbeing has to be a key element

Employee wellbeing, in particular safeguarding mental health, is gaining greater attention in all sectors. If the catering industry is to retain staff, the need to create the conditions for a positive working environment is essential. So what’s the answer?

I know I have spoken about this before but it’s the norm and a legal responsibility to have Physical First Aiders in place.

So why not Mental Health First Aiders? It’s a simple approach. We are taught how to recognise and treat injuries in the work place.

You should be able to identify team members who have anxiety, stress, depression, anger management, relationship issues. You are not expected to resolve the problems just approach, assess the severity of the issue, listen, advise, refer and encourage.

Being a bit of an old bloke, I’ve been around a bit. In my past, I’ve witnessed both verbal and physical abuse in the kitchen and it’s often resulted in dismissals and/or resignations. Let's do something about it to stem the tide.

We could start by challenging the pattern of some macho ‘celebrity chefs’ out there who’ve contributed to making a hostile working environment not just acceptable, but laudable.

Given the circumstances of the working environment, creating and encouraging a positive working atmosphere is essential in improving productivity and maintaining quality.

Just one thought, and referring to previous posts, as well as looking after those you manage, you really need to protect your own mental health and wellbeing.

Take a look at mental health charity Mind's five ways to wellbeing to protect yourself and those around you.

Barry Hancox

About Barry Hancox

Barry Hancox has spent over 40 years working in the hospitality industry. He was a House Manager at Duke’s Hotel in St James’s before relocating to the Cotswolds nearly 30 years ago to the Lygon Arms Hotel.

Since leaving The Lygon 15 years ago, Barry has owned and run two restaurants, and played a role in the launch of several delis and food retail outlets in the Cotswolds as a consultant. 

Barry's interest in mental health issues has grown in recent years, particularly within the hospitality industry. He is a qualified Mental Health First Aider and he volunteers regularly with Springfield Mind. 

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 18th April 2019

It's time for employers to safeguard their staff's mental wellbeing