Research reveals that one in four people in the UK are affected by mental health each year but many feel uncomfortable talking openly about mental health problems at work. Across the UK, it’s clear that employers need to do more to create a workplace environment where all employees feel accepted and supported.
As a hospitality business which connects with people daily, we are in a unique position to impact people’s lives for the better. Our vision is to become the most loved place to eat and work and as part of that it’s absolutely crucial we know how to provide the right support for our employees and customers alike.
To help us, we partnered with Mental Health UK – a network of four national charities working across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to improve the lives of people with mental illness. The partnership helps us to better understand the positive steps we can take to support our employees, whether that’s through enhancing our training and development programmes to better support our managers, providing a 24-hour helpline for our employees or by recommending local support groups.
To support the partnership we commissioned research to better understand how mental health affects people working in hospitality. Our findings revealed that only seven per cent of hospitality workers would feel comfortable talking to their employer about their mental health while 44 per cent said they wouldn’t talk to anyone at all, not even family and friends.
One of the biggest issues revealed in the research was the stigma attached to mental health problems, making many sufferers feel too embarrassed or ashamed to talk about what they are going through. To help address this, employers need to foster a culture of openness to reassure employees that speaking out will lead to support and not discrimination. Raising awareness of mental illnesses and their related symptoms is an effective way to help managers identify when a colleague might need support. Mental health issues are often much harder to spot and a reassuring gesture from a colleague or manager could help people to address issues much sooner.
Encouragingly, our research found that over three quarters of respondents said they would be interested in receiving training to support colleagues experiencing mental health problems. Training is crucial as it helps managers feel better equipped to broach the subject and make recommendations for support. As a business, already take a holistic approach to training which teaches people the technical skills they need to do their job and focuses on supporting personal and emotional wellbeing too. Through our partnerships with the School of Life and Heartstyles, our employees are able to tackle issues such as anxiety, communication, stress and relationships. As a result, we are helping to create a culture of openness, fostering an environment that ensures our team members feel supported and happy in their work.
Ultimately, we want to encourage more businesses to put mental health and employee wellbeing on their agenda. Too many employees are suffering in silence. By helping to break the taboo around mental health in the workplace, together we can build a more happy and healthy workforce for the future.