10 expert insights: How to promote mental wellness in the hospitality industry

18 Jul 2019

To create some expert insights on managing mental health in the hospitality industry, Hospitality New Zealand has enlisted the help of Raw Hospitality Director James Bennie. As well as being an expert in customer and employee experiences in the hospitality sector, James recently project managed the ‘Wild About Wellness’ programme for WellingtonNZ, designed to help boost wellness in the workplace.

“Gone are the days where we use the line ‘leave your baggage at the door’, meaning – don’t bring your problems with you to work,” James tells Hospitality New Zealand.

“Workplaces should be more understanding and interested than ever in employees lives and what’s going on in them. After all, we do spend a lot of hours of our week at work,” James adds.

Combining his insights on the hospitality sector with his insights on workplace wellness, James has devised five tips on how hospitality employers and managers can better manage their own mental health, as well as five tips on how to promote a culture of mental wellbeing among employees.

How to manage your own mental wellness as an employer or manager

ONE: Time Out

As managers or employers, we often feel that we can’t take time out as things might fall apart, but time out can be such an important thing to do, even if it’s just a day or two. It can refresh your thinking and bring back the mojo and passion for the industry that you had at the start.

TWO: Switch Off

Disconnect from your everyday business, whether its not checking emails once you get home, not checking the security cameras or checking how much money is coming in that day or night on the till system. A lot of these things you can’t help with or it won’t make a difference to check right then and there and it can simply just wait till the morning.

THREE: Share the Load

Sharing the load with your manager or staff can really help with stress levels and memory. The reality is that we can’t do everything, or we try, and end up doing things not to a high standard. Empower, train and give more responsibility to those key people around you.

FOUR: Catch up with non-work friends

Simply just catching up with non-work friends that you might have not seen in a while can help de-stress. It can also help to nurture those friendships back to where they use to be before you got so busy running your own business. Great friends will always be there for you, so it’s good to keep in touch.

FIVE: Exercise or Family Time

We have all heard it before that exercise does wonders, so if you can make the time then do it and try to keep it up – even a walk to work. What if you’re not an exercise person? Spending time with your family can do wonders too. Try to make time to hang out with your family before or after work, to pick the kids up from school some days, or to spend quality time with your partner.

How to support your team members

ONE: Check In

Simply saying ‘hey, how are you today’ can really mean a lot to someone. It shows that you actually care and have time in your busy day to say hi. Even better would be a coffee catch up or doing a task together to have a longer chat up about things outside of work. Some of us may feel like we are doing this already, but we can always do it more and make sure you find the time to talk with all the staff members in your team.

TWO: Time out as a team

Getting out and doing an activity or something fun with the whole team is always a great thing to build team morale and make them feel valued. Whether it is going bowling, a picnic lunch in the park with games or treating them to a dinner and a show. Maybe set up a contra deal with another business and you can host their staff in return for their team time out.

THREE: Open door policy

Share with your team that you have an open-door policy and that you are available to have a chat about anything if needed. It might be work related, personal or just for them to seek advice or a second opinion on something. Verbalising this at staff meetings is a good way to build your open-door policy with you team.

FOUR: Induction

When new staff start in your business, having resources or guidelines around mental wellbeing support options is handy to have so that they feel supported from the start and know that it’s an important part of your company and your values. Having one of your core company values to do with staff wellbeing is a key factor in our industry today.

FIVE: Burn out 

Make sure your staff don’t get burnt out by having too many shifts in a row. It doesn’t help the mindset and outlook when it comes to offering great customer experience and staff may end up not enjoying work as much. It’s hard to find staff in this current market so we need to be offering the best induction, training and culture to our teams to help retain them.



More resources on mental health in the hospitality industry


DOWNLOAD: Hospitality New Zealand mental health resources

Mental health awareness posters

How to support co-workers experiencing mental health issues


LISTEN: The Sick Leave podcasts speaks to leaders, owners and operators in the NZ hospitality industry about their experiences related to mental health.

Listen here

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