How HR Leaders can support retail and hospitality workers mental health over the busy Christmas period

With some of the busiest weeks in the retail and hospitality industry’s calendar fast approaching, it’s important to make sure your staff are motivated and prepared. In this article, Mike Hardman from catering equipment providers Alliance Online offers his advice for business owners looking to take care of their employees this festive season.

From a business perspective, employee wellbeing is important for productivity and retention.  Yet, almost two thirds of hospitality workers do not think their employers take care of them, and a staggering one in five hospitality workers even suffer from severe work-related mental health issues brought on by the stress of their jobs (RSPH).

In addition to these figures, hospitality staff will average 28 hours of overtime at Christmas. This additional time during the festive period is thought to impact on the quality of their sleep, and many hospitality workers expect they’ll be running on just five to six hours sleep a night — three hours below the recommended duration for adults (Big Hospitality). This can lead to even more issues with their wellbeing which can have an overall impact on your profits and the reputation of your business.

So, below I’ll be taking you through some of the best ways you can help your employees through the festive period and ensure everyone has a happy holiday.

Take some of the pressure off

Most businesses will take on temporary staff over the festive period, and it can be just as handy for hospitality. With more staff, customers receive a more efficient service and you can fulfil more orders, which will come in handy during the rush. While it’s tempting to get them on the floor as soon as possible, make sure you allow time to adequately train your new starters so they can help rather than hinder your permanent staff. You’ll also need to make sure you have enough uniforms and equipment for them to use.

Make sure they have a good work/life balance

Putting together the Christmas rota is one of the most delicate tasks you’ll be expected to do all year, so it’s important you take the time to sit down and do it properly. While the more staff you have working the better, you need to address theirwork-life balances by being as flexible as possible and making sure everyone has enough days off over the festive period. By showing respect for their lives outside of work, your staff will feel valued, well-rested, and loyal to the company, all ofwhich can increase productivity.

Put some wellbeing support systems in place

You’ll also have to provide some support systems for staff wellbeing while they’re at work, so they don’t start to dread coming in. These systems can be as simple as keeping your office door open so employees can pop in for a chat if they’re feeling overwhelmed, or you could consider arranging perks such as free food or prizes. Don’t forget to decorate the staff room, too! It’s much easier to be enthusiastic about your role if you feel support from management, and little touches like these can help them feel remembered.

Give them something to look forward to

It can help to arrange a staff party after Christmas, perhaps in January, to say thank you for all your team’s hard work. Not only will this rewardincentivise them to work harder in the future, but it will give them something to look forward to during the busy period — especially if you pick an activity that every member will enjoy. If you’re not sure what to organise, you could delegate the task to a staff member and give them a budget to stick to.

Raise awareness of mental health issues and support

It’s possible that some of your staff may not be aware of the symptoms of stress and could overwork themselves unwittingly. In the run up to Christmas, offer mental health training and information sessions so everyone knows what to look out for and how to deal with stress when their shifts start to get busier. It could also help to leave informational leaflets or posters in the staff room that they can read at their leisure, so they’ll know what to do if they do start to show any symptoms of burnout.

The tips in this guide should help you support your staff through one of the busiest seasons of the year. By looking after your staff, you can benefit from increased productivity, attendance, and quality of service — and everyone can have a merry Christmas!

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