Service With(out) a Smile

Research from RSPH has found that mental health and wellbeing is under significant strain amongst hospitality employees. In the latest report, Service With(out) a Smile, over four out of five (84%) hospitality workers reported increased stress which was believed to be a direct consequence of their job. As a result, almost half (45%) of respondents said they would not recommend working in hospitality.

Other key findings from the RSPH research include:
  • Almost two thirds (62%) do not think the hospitality sector takes care of its employees
  • Three quarters (74%) have experienced verbal abuse from a customer
  • Almost a quarter (24%) required medical or psychological help
  • Only around one in ten (10%) had received training to support health and wellbeing, or access to mentoring, health champions or mental health first aiders
The report highlights a number of initiatives which have been introduced to address concerns around staff health and wellbeing. Hospitality Action set up an Employee Assistance Programme and Me, Myself in Mind run classes on mental health awareness for the hospitality industry.

Healthy Hospo have joined forces with Love Drinks to run health and wellness programmes for bartenders and managers. While these programmes are a welcome step, the results indicate that more needs to be done.

Recommendations that emerged from the research to look after employee mental health and wellbeing include:
  • Hospitality employers to put in place a package of support which protects the mental health and wellbeing of staff including sick leave, regular one-to-ones between managers and employees, health champions and mental health first aiders
  • Improved enforcement of employment rights
  • Further research into what hospitality can learn from best practice in workplace wellbeing within other sectors
The survey results and recommendations will be discussed at an event in London, held in collaboration with The Springboard Charity on 20 May. The event aims to encourage employers to proactively consider how to look after mental health in the workplace.



Our Comments

Shirley Cramer, CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH said: “At some point in our lives many of us will have experienced working in the hospitality industry, so we understand how demanding this working environment can be. Having access to good mental health support is essential for workplaces, and we are pleased that there are a number of initiatives being rolled out across the sector.

However, it is clear from our research that this support is not reaching everyone, with two-thirds of hospitality workers reporting that they don’t believe the sector does enough to look after its staff. It is also concerning that around a quarter of staff have had to resort to psychological intervention or medication to deal with work-related stress.  Investing in staff health and wellbeing is not just the right thing to do for individuals, but it will ultimately benefit the hospitality sector in the long term.”


Anne Pierce, MBE, The Springboard Charity said: “Mental health is a topic being discussed more and more nowadays and it’s extremely important that we begin making changes to our working practices to ensure that it’s kept at the forefront. Mental health is just as important as physical health and its imperative for hospitality employers to recognise this and to value the wellbeing of the hospitality workforce.”