Mental health campaign the Burnt Chef Project has published a survey and report offering guidance to employers for once the coronavirus lockdown period ends on addressing industry-specific stress, anxiety and frustrations that might lead to mental health problems among workers.
Founder Kris Hall said: "We believe that the landscape post Covid-19 is likely to further highlight mental health as being the key focus for employers in order for them to keep retention high and maximise their profitability in a challenging economic climate."
Of the 1,273 who responded to the campaign's survey earlier this year, nearly 60% of which were chefs, 17.4% felt comfortable talking to their manager or colleagues about their mental health and 58.25% reported that they felt the discussion around mental health has improved in the last five years.
However, 46.14% felt they would not talk to their peers or managers and 36.46% would only if they were asked.
The top reasons respondents said they felt stress or ill mental health within the workplace were: no time for work-life balance (64%) and pressure (63%).
In terms of impact on personal wellbeing, while there were some correlations across both chefs and front of house reporting poor diet, fatigue and little time for relationships, the data found just under half of front of house respondents felt they had a reliance on alcohol as a result of their role; while increased stress and lack of exercise featured more prominently as an issue for chefs.
Around 14.8% of respondents said the company they work for takes action to reduce stress and anxiety in the workplace, while 58% said they weren't sure or that their employer took no action to tackle workplace stress.
The survey also found that almost two out of three respondents experienced three or more instances of poor mental health as a result of their role within hospitality.
When asked what employers can do to improve mental health and wellness at work, 28% said increase open conversations around mental health, and 27% said hire more staff to reduce workload, while 17% suggested mental health training.
The report said it is essential changes within the industry are explored and trialled by businesses in order to reduce the demands and pressures felt by staff; and an equilibrium needs to be established between the wellbeing of staff and meeting the needs of the business.
It also urged employers, management and longer-serving professionals to use their voices and experience to instigate change within their working environment.
With respondents reporting difficulties in achieving an adequate work-life balance, the report has suggested that more focus is given by employers to time management. Suggested measures include:
- Distributing hours evenly across teams
- Ensuring staff know their rotas and days off at least one week in advance, giving them time to plan
- Upskilling staff to ensure even workload
- Training staff in workload workload management
- Reducing the number of working days to mitigate longer hours
- Reducing the number of working hours to mitigate longer working weeks
- Offering flexible working hours to those with families and young children
- Regular breaks away from the working environment to reduce fatigue and stress
- Reducing split shifts to a minimum.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UKHospitality, said: "The Burnt Chef Project mental health survey shows that there is a concerning number of our team members suffering with their mental health. Sector-wide initiatives such as Hospitality Action and the Licensed Trade charity provide fantastic support, however it is clear that more needs to be done to support our fantastic team members.
"This is going to be crucial for our future efforts to encourage even more people to join the hospitality sector in the future. This report shows that we, as an industry, must work faster to provide our valuable and committed staff with the support they need. We must create an environment where colleagues can feel confident discussing their problems and where no individual feels they must suffer silently and wear their troubles as a badge of honour."
The Burnt Chef Project was founded by Kris Hall in May 2019 with the view to raise awareness to the high levels of ill mental health within the UK hospitality trade.