Miserable working conditions are taking their toll on hospitality workers, with staff in depressing environments taking more than double the number of sick days off a year as employees in other sectors.
A survey of more than 1,000 UK workers, conducted by Lightspeed Research in March, reveals that 38% in the hospitality and service sector think their working environments are "gloomy" or "depressing" and take 19 sick days off a year, compared with the typical surveyed worker's eight.
Six in 10 of the hospitality workers questioned said a better working environment would make them more productive (by an average of 27%). This is the equivalent of businesses gaining one to two extra days each week from each member of staff.
Jeff Mariola, managing director of Ambius (previously Rentokil Tropical Plants), which commissioned the study, said: "Just 31% of hospitality and service industry employees describe their workplace as stimulating, so it's no surprise bad working environments are taking their toll on motivation and productivity."
The overwhelming majority of hospitality respondents (87%) believe employers should do more to improve working conditions, with 77% saying surroundings have significant impact on happiness and motivation.
But Jonathan Poole, co-founder of Ego Restaurants - a winner in Caterer‘s 2007 Best Places to Work awards - said that while having an attractive environment was important, more was required.
"Most people want to be trained and developed and know there are prospects for their career in an environment where their views are valued," he said. "As an employer there is an inextricable link between happy staff with a good attitude and the level of customer service they deliver."
Simon Scoot, director of marketing at the InterContinental London Park Lane hotel agreed. "Not to be simplistic, but happy staff mean happy guests," he said.
As part of the recent £60m refurbishment, IHG Park Lane has invested in employee engagement schemes, including renaming the staff entrance No.1 Park Lane, keeping them updated via daily newsletters and a plasma screen and naming back-of-house areas after London streets to engender a sense of belonging.
By Chris Druce