Happiness at Work in Hospitality

For happiness at work week 2021, we look at how hospitality workers are holding up

We’ve realised this year just how valuable our service providers are. Sure, home bars helped us shake things up when we couldn't venture out, but heading to an atmospheric venue full of bartenders ready to rustle up their signature drink for you has a magic that can't be recreated at home. A tailored experience from professionals who know precisely what they're talking about will relax you, surprise your tastebuds, and support you while you concentrate on making memories with those around you on a night out.

We are joining in the dialogue around International week of Happiness at Work by asking how do hospitality workers feel about getting back behind the stick?

The Mental and Emotional Health of Hospitality Workers

With the past year's events taking a toll on mental and physical health for many, ensuring happiness at work is vital to keep staff motivated to providing a high level of customer service. The industry issued several messages to the public, asking guests to remember to 'be kind' to staff during this challenging time and bear with them as things stay a little chaotic whilst they get used to the job and the restrictions and guidelines they have to follow with it.

Practical Improvements to Working Practices

It's no secret that the pandemic made things harder for the sector, but there's a silver lining. The workplace is improving for many in pay rises, more realistic expectations and kinder hours for staff. For example, the General Manager of the Restaurant and Bars at The Hoxton says, "We're running a full program [for those] returning to work including a census on how all staff have been mentally as well as physically during lockdown with individual and team follow-ups on their answers/experiences; (re)training on basics and reintegration of teams; explanations on all [the] guidelines and rules again and implementing any possible requests by staff to make them feel safer at work as well as their journey from work and how work could affect their home situation. All over a period of multiple days, and all paid as well."

Of course, many workers in the sector weren't keen to rush back to the job when doors opened to the public again, which is why the average weekday pay rate has risen by 5% across the UK, with the hope that better pay will encourage staff to return to work. But hospitality workers are often customer-focused and get job satisfaction from genuinely helping people, so how have they kept that aspect of their work alive?

Positive Movements

There are plenty of good news stories of hope and goodwill from the sector. Take Claridge's, for example. The hotel reopened during the pandemic to move in 40 doctors, nurses, and other key workers to have free accommodation at the usually £650 a night establishment.

Another beacon of light came from the Hospitality for Heroes Challenge. The challenge was a social media campaign created amid the pandemic to raise money for NHS frontline workers. Warren James and Matthew Cranwell were the brains behind the campaign, which asked people to upload short videos on social media of themselves talking through a recipe in under a minute and then nominate three friends or chefs to take up the challenge. All money raised went to allowing chefs to prepare healthy meals to feed the NHS workforce. But who is looking after the hospitality sector while they look after everyone else?

Paddy Howley, the founder of So Let’s Talk not-for-profit, raised money through the So Let’s Walk campaign last year and this, to raise awareness and finances for his fight against unhealthy work practices in hospitality. He founded So Let’s Talk in 2019 to combat the late nights, long shifts, destructive habits and poor exercise and nutrition deemed acceptable, even championed, for bar workers. They are still accepting donations for the 2021 challenge (24 peaks in 24 hours), so help them with a donation on their Just Giving page if you can!

Political Campaigns

Recently, there have been calls for the UK government to create an official Minister for Hospitality. Boris Johnson has said he would meet with some of the 200,000 petitioners alongside the minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets.

The petition, named 'Create a Minister for Hospitality in the UK Government', has caught the attention of celebrity chefs, hospitality workers and customers alike. The hope is that with a Minister for Hospitality in the government, there can be better support ensured for venues and a recognition of the importance that hospitality plays in society. With nearly all hospitality closing their doors during the pandemic, the actual social and economic impacts of these venues being shut have been revealed. The sector needs to receive the support they need and deserve.

The good news for petitioners was that in January 2021, MPs voted in support of the motion to create a Minister of Hospitality. Less excitingly, though, there was no immediate action from Boris Johnson, who is the only person with the power to make such a position, and there is still no such role in the cabinet. With Michelin star chefs repeatedly bringing this petition to the attention of a wider audience, there are hopes that the Prime Minister will still look into the proposition and introduce the new minister into the government.

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