Wellness initiatives that can be implemented in a hospitality setting

As a cafe owner and the Founder & Director of Positive HR, I am passionate about collaborating with hospitality owners to help them sleep better at night by providing clarity and confidence with their workplace compliance. But with the pandemic adding so much uncertainty and stress into our lives, and in order to keep employees engaged and happy, it’s never been a more critical time to integrate wellness into the workplace.  

The hospitality industry has been significantly impacted, so to show we care for our people who have stood by us, I’ll share some tips on how to incorporate employee wellness into your cafe, restaurant or pub.

Firstly, what is workplace and employee wellness?

It’s important to understand what we mean when we talk about wellness. Basically, they’re a set of practices or initiatives which aim to improve the overall health of employees. While most people link workplace wellness to education, and although it is one of the most important initiatives ~ it goes beyond that. Business owners need to create a positive and healthy culture with inclusive and innovative policies and a supportive working environment.

According to HeadsUp, there are many benefits of having fitter, healthier and happier employees, including:

  • Increased productivity, work morale and job satisfaction
  • Better decision making
  • Fewer sick days
  • Lower employee turnover
  • Increased ability to attract and retain new employees

So how do we create and promote a positive and healthy workplace culture?

Find your Champion and check your commitment

When it comes to employee training and development, I’ve seen many business owners focus solely on the technical aspects of the job — we often forget about the wellness aspects which are equally important. The success of all initiatives will be dependent on the enthusiasm and commitment of all employees.

I want you to identify a champion in your cafe or restaurant that has the energy and passion to drive your wellness change and conversation. Sometimes all it takes is one person to have the entire team (including management) on board!

As a business owner, show your commitment to employee health and wellbeing by hosting regular workshops to educate your employees on mental health, how to manage stress, conflict management, developing resilience, and self-care. Make sure this is a collaborative approach and you are obtaining input from your employees and hearing their suggestions. (Or connect with us to run these workshops).

Review what’s on your menu

How often do you involve your staff in development of a new menu? Traditionally, this has been done by the Business Owner and Chef. But if you have your team involved in updating your menu this is a way to open the conversation about healthy meal options and continue to foster the positive workplace culture and importance of having a healthy lifestyle.

Many businesses offer free meals or heavily discounted meals for their employees. It’s much better that they eat or buy from you rather than consume fast food or something unhealthy from next door. When our bodies get enough nutrients, we’re definitely happier and more productive.

In my cafe we also hosted a cooking afternoon once we closed for the day. Everyone was to bring in their favourite vegetable and well just think about a Masterchef box challenge. The more participation you encourage, the more likely your employees will make healthy choices.

Let’s take it outside

If you have an outdoor area or a courtyard, you can do so much! This provides the opportunity to combine wellness with nature. There is a significant benefit to our mental and physical wellbeing when Mother Nature surrounds us.

One of my employees was also a part time pilates instructor, she was happy to volunteer her time to run a session after a very busy Sunday and this allowed the team to relax and rewind. Other ideas are offering employees subsidised or partially subsidised activities such as yoga, meditation and tai chi. If you don’t have an outdoor area, you can always organise these activities at the local park.

Review your policies and procedures

You may already have some great policies in place to foster a healthy environment. These may be flexible work policies or a Positive HR employee hotline giving your employees a safe place to speak and connect. Try to have policies that support healthy choices such as smoke-free and as we have seen in Melbourne more bars becoming “dry bars” - meaning employees cannot drink on shift. Do you have a policy on supporting mental health and mental illness, or a return to work procedure? Implementing wellness policies are a quick win for the business and set the foundation of the culture and business values. If you need any support with these our employee handbook is the perfect purchase.

Prevent injuries and take regular breaks

Physical wellness starts with putting in place measures to prevent injury and illnesses. Many employees in cafes and restaurants are spending long periods of time standing. This can contribute to many problems such as pain and swelling in the legs, feet and back.

A great way to beat fatigue and prevent injuries is to simply take a break. Encourage employees to go outside for a brief walk and stretch their legs — rather than stay inside the premises, so they can feel like they’ve actually had a real break. Taking a break is not only good for mental health, it’s also your legal obligation as an employer.

The rules around breaks depend on the award, enterprise agreement or any other registered agreements. The section on breaks is quite comprehensive, so for more information, please refer to the Restaurant Industry Award [MA000119] clauses 15.1, 16 and 23.2.

These are just some simple ways to help increase the health and wellbeing of your employees. The important thing is to show you care as it’s been a tough year for those in hospitality. If you need any support please book in a free consult. 

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