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How hospitality businesses can improve workforce wellbeing

  • Written by Deepesh Banerji, Chief Product Officer at Deputy

People often associate hospitality with dynamic and high-pressure environments where business success depends on workers’ ability to keep pace. This often results in employee wellbeing at hospitality venues being overlooked and deprioritised. In fact, according to Deputy’s Big Shift Report, 50 per cent of global shift workers want their employer to place a greater focus on wellbeing.

Initiatives like #Fairkitchens and Fair Workweek have consequently sparked around the globe in order to address the need for more mentally healthy hospitality businesses amid growing awareness of serious mental health issues in the industry.

As 93 per cent of Australian workers say emotional and mental health at work is just as important as their remuneration, it’s time for hospitality businesses to undergo a major culture shakeup, with organisational changes required to ultimately create a more positive work environment.

Offer greater flexibility and certainty of shifts

To set themselves apart from other hospitality businesses, owners and managers of hospitality venues should offer greater flexibility. This is particularly beneficial when it comes to attracting new entrants to the hospitality workforce, such as parents or grandparents, who are on the lookout for roles that allow them to work around childcare responsibilities.

Businesses can offer greater flexibility by utilising scheduling and rostering technology to prevent automatic rostering that conflicts with employees' personal commitments.

Scheduling shifts in advance so people have more certainty over their roster can also be of huge benefit. This will allow workers to plan ahead for quality family time and vacations, or for cooking healthy meals. Since 2020, there’s been an increase in advanced shift planning in hospitality — from 7.8 days in 2020 to 9.6 days for the first half of 2023, showcasing a positive trend of hospitality venues providing greater oversight over workers’ upcoming shifts.

Provide adequate training to create trust

Training staff is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a successful business. Healthy workplaces can only be created when managers and shift workers have the tools and training needed to evaluate their workplaces and action employee feedback.

In partnership with the mobile learning management system, EdApp and Deputy created industry-first courses specifically designed to improve wellbeing and build trust between shift workers and managers in the hospitality industry. Managers are given real-life examples of how to foster healthy and inclusive work environments, while shift workers are given guidance on how to share opinions and feedback constructively.

These courses were intentionally created to be bite-sized and mobile-first in order to move the industry away from hours-long training sessions. With more shift workers working multiple jobs than ever before, shorter courses will improve training completion rates, productivity and employee engagement. Each course takes just three to seven minutes to complete, encouraging teams to delve in at their convenience, with little disruption to their workflow.

Encourage empathetic leadership and constructive feedback

Empathetic leadership goes a long way to contributing to a more positive workplace. Taking employees’ feedback onboard and building targeted processes in response creates healthier workplaces. Deputy’s report has also shown healthier work environments have 30 per cent higher productivity among employees, and 4.4 per cent higher profit for the business, showcasing the clear business case for the creation of healthier, wellbeing-focused hospitality businesses.

Managers can achieve this level of trust by facilitating feedback with their staff through regular check-ins, creating a safe space for sharing constructive criticism. An open-loop system will contribute to stronger employee retention and ensure shift workers are happier, fostering a culture of recognition and appreciation.

Additionally, business leaders and managers must also take the time to understand each employee’s strengths and areas of interest, and proactively offer them opportunities to take on greater responsibilities in those specific areas.

Thriving workplaces cannot be created without consistent effort and re-education around changing workforce values. With almost a third of employing businesses unable to find suitable staff due to labour shortages, it will be important for businesses to be proactive about this cultural shift in order to stand out in a competitive market.

When both sides of the workforce put these learnings into practice, businesses will become much healthier, ultimately reducing employee turnover and contributing to a business's bottom line.



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