Working in the restaurant industry is not easy. From unhappy customers, clashing personalities, a fast-paced environment, and odd and long hours, there are countless factors that can contribute to a stressful workplace.
In honor of April being stress awareness month, below are a few strategies that restaurants can use to help employees better manage stress. Click the arrows in the picture above to begin the story.
Make sure employees know where to go for help
Restaurants may offer benefits that help employees cope with stress, but many employees may not know these benefits exist! This is why it’s important to make sure employees and their managers know that they can ask a human resources representative about their benefit plans in order to find out what types of resources are available to them.
For example, a restaurant may sponsor a medical plan for some or all employees which could provide discounted rates for things like massages or acupuncture that can physically help employees relieve stress.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are another highly beneficial yet little known resource a restaurant could offer. EAPs provide free, confidential counseling 24/7 via phone to employees dealing with an array of stressful issues, including financial, legal, mental health or addiction concerns, to name a few. If your restaurant offers this and employees aren’t using it, you’re losing money, so make sure they know where to go to access it.
If your restaurant doesn’t offer a health plan or EAP, it may make sense to look into one if employees are asking for help. Especially in today’s tight labor market, benefits like this could help attract and retain talent.
Your restaurant should have a break policy in place that lets employees know when they can take break and for how long. However, a policy is only good if it’s enforced. If the managers at your restaurant aren’t encouraging—or even mandating—employees to take breaks, the employees may feel like taking a break is frowned upon, or even forget to take one. Further, local laws may require that they take those breaks! Figure out a schedule that works for your operations that allows employees to take the breaks they need. Even a five minute break can help de-stress someone if they just had a difficult conversation with a customer or colleague.
Maintain open lines of communication
It is in every employer’s best interest to help their employees stay healthy and productive, which means helping them manage stress before it gets out of hand. Let employees know that you care about them and want them to bring up any issues they may be having, either inside or outside of work, that are causing them stress.
Educate employees on how stress may affect them and the resources available to them. Train managers on spotting signs of stress, like tardiness, calling off more than usual, or emotional outbursts.
If an employee experiences a lot of stress for too long it can lead to burnout, attendance problems, or worse, it may lead them to quit.
To boost productivity and retention, encourage employees to have an open dialogue with their manager or HR so the employer can try to help alleviate whatever is stressing them out.
Gretchen Van Vlymen is the Vice President of Human Resources at StratEx, a human resources software and consulting firm specializing in the restaurant industry. Van Vlymen oversees all delivery and execution of StratEx's team of HR consultants and benefits administration. She is also responsible for all internal HR at StratEx.