Hospitality is often at high risk for terrorism but is there enough support for staff?

The need to support psychological and emotional needs

Employee wellbeing is often spoken about as an essential need in many companies but one that isn’t always fully supported. It is important because staff exposed to trauma and distress can impact their life. It can also be argued that poor staff wellbeing in hospitality is costing the sector. As an industry we fundamentally understand the need to look after guests but is it fair to ask if staff are at times forgotten when looking at mental health and wellbeing?

Recent terrorist incidents have shown that hospitality venues are at a high risk and the Grenfell Tower fire has also made others think about what plans are in place should employees be unfortunately involved in incidents such as these.

EP recently interviewed Colin Grange, Clinical Director at Lifeworks to find out what hospitality companies can do to ensure their staff are supported when suffering from psychological and emotional damage.

“Traditionally the work we conduct has been seen as an ‘employee assistance provider’ but we go beyond this now. We are the company that works with the hospitality industry to ensure that if something like the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London were to happen, there is a crisis plan in place for those that are involved.”

Colin speaks with an authority given his experience in the field. Whilst there are other companies similar to Lifeworks, they argue their difference lies in embracing new forms of technology and taking a proactive approach.

For individuals who need support there is a 24 hour telephone line and an app to suit a changing demographic. This is enhanced with a proactive approach of going into businesses and talking to staff – something other companies may lack.

“Providing emotional support and practical advice is essential. The support is there all the time so for those who are verbally or physical abused or perhaps go through a martial problem, we are there to help.”

Their app includes rewards as an incentive to encourage staff to use and engage with the technology. This includes discounts for restaurants and activities such as the cinema.

 

It is interesting to note if there is a difference in approach between generations when it comes to putting these plans in place. Colin highlights that there has at times been a traditional view of ‘shrugging it off’ were something to happen. However this outlook may be changing.

It is also at times difficult to know the real reason why an employee may ‘call-in sick. Employees may lie when asked if they are ok following an incident of some kind. This absence can, as we all know, can make an impact on the business financially. Recent stats have shown:

  • The UK loses 137m workdays due to poor health
  • Of which 70m are due to mental health issues
  • This costs UK business £57bn in lost productivity

Colin explains, “If someone is caught up in a situation the last thing they want to do is return to the business where the event may have happened. This impacts the business and poor employee wellbeing can cost businesses money.”

So improving employee wellbeing may deliver a return on investment. By simply having

plans in place, employees who feel supported should be more productive. Colin emphasises the need to be prepared and whilst costs are involved for their kind of work, the argument is that should something terrible happen, there needs to be support in place.

EP often asks if the hospitality industry can play a bigger and more central role in society and actually be the lead role for social action and social change. Looking after the team is a main priority of this as they are in the local community and are the strongest advocates for the business.

The market and society is constantly changing and it can be difficult for companies to communicate. The need is there to look after our people because they are the best communication tools any business can possess. It’s beyond digital and it’s beyond the brand – real people who are visible can make a difference.

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