Look after your teams mental health - Bar & Kitchen

Look after your teams mental health

"The second you walk into a venue you know if the team is happy or not. Your people are your brand, so a healthy, happy workforce is good for business," says Jeremy Gibson, Marketing Director for Hospitality Action, who believes forward thinking businesses are finally addressing employee mental health as the race to attract, retain and motivate the best staff hots up across the sector. Happy teams mean better staff retention, teamwork and productivity, reduced absence levels and a better experience for your customers.

The basics

We asked Jeremy from Hospitality Action and Alison Pay, who is Managing Director of Mental Health At Work to explain how easy it would be to set up a support network at out of home venues.

“Did you know? £5 for every £1 Average return on investment on mental health”
- Source: Deloitte, 2020

Warning Signs

“We’re trying to get mental health on a par with physical health so everyone can get the same level of support they would with a broken leg,” says Alison.

Stress, anxiety and depression are hallmarks of modern society and they’re not going away. But spotting the tell-tale signs can help protect your business.

Employees who are struggling to concentrate during service, losing interest and appearing low, tearful or overwhelmed, could be struggling.

“Notice and act,” says Alison: “If you notice a colleague appears different or something isn’t right, it’s not your job to diagnose.”

Younger front of house staff are unlikely to see the issue as taboo, are happy to talk about it and accept help from Employee Assistance Programmes such as Hospitality Action’s or organisations such as Burnt Chef.

Providing help

You can act by simply starting a conversation. Begin with open-ended questions like ‘you’re looking tired, how are you?’ and follow up with ‘how can I help? advises Alison.

“The important thing is to listen to the answer without judgement and never try to fix it. That is not your job,” insists Jeremy: “Put the person in touch with a specialist.

“Our Programme equips managers with skills to steer staff towards counselling, cognitive behavioural therapy, advice on addiction, debt or family issues. People can bring all of those into work from home. They can manifest as stress, anxiety or depression.”

For staff who prefer reaching out directly, there is Burnt Chef’s text service whose goal is to: ‘challenge the stigma of mental health while beginning to create a culture of care and compassion’.

Set up by the Drinks Trust, it offers a text service (85258) where hospitality workers can access free, confidential support around mental health. Why not put up their details on your noticeboard?

What are the benefits?

One of the main benefits is that they will stay with you for longer. They’re also your advocates and brand ambassadors each time a customer visits.

Alison says: “Hospitality has always had high staff turnover, but the talent war means employers are now acknowledging the importance of wellbeing. It takes time to change the culture but it’s worth it.”

Jeremy adds: “Our EAP is a complete wrap-
around service for a small outlay which will save on recruitment costs and lost time as well as improving your team’s advocacy. 

“If you genuinely care about your team, they’ll be more engaged and return the loyalty. That’s obvious, but it’s taken the terrible last couple of years for businesses to realise.”

““Storing and handling food incorrectly could lead to harmful bacteria growing, which could cause food poisoning. Food businesses need to maintain high standards in preparation and planning.””
- Head of Incidents and Food Hygiene Policy at the Food Standards Agency


This will prevent harmful bacteria growing. Always keep the following chilled and never leave them standing at room temperature:

• Food with a use-by date

• Cooked dishes

• Ready-to-eat foods.

Follow storage instructions, put food that needs to be chilled in the fridge straight away and remove it as close to prep as possible.

Are your fridge and display units cold enough? They should be 5C or below. Buy a fridge thermometer to be sure.


Thorough cooking kills harmful bacteria. Most types of meat should be thoroughly cooked to prevent harmful bacteria in the middle, this is even more important during barbeque season when the outside of the food can appear well done, but the inside is still only partially cooked. Before service, always check they’re steaming hot right through, the juices run clear and there’s no pink or rare meat inside.

With whole cuts of beef and lamb, it’s usually only the surface which can be contaminated with food poisoning bacteria so ensure that surface is properly cooked and sealed even if the middle is still pink.

Good Practise

Clear out the rubbish

Rodents, rats, mice, insects and birds are all more likely to be attracted to an unhygienic kitchen as the temperature rises. Dispose of food waste and other rubbish as quickly as possible to avoid it building up and attracting pests.

Check your whole venue

Is the whole building – not just the food prep areas – clean, well maintained and in an appropriate condition to allow you to follow good food hygiene practices? If in doubt, ask your local authority for advice. Handwashing facilities, changing areas, ventilation, lighting and drainage are all critical in developing an appropriate safety culture across your business.

All surfaces and areas for preparing food must be clean and separated. However, attention should also be given to cleaning other areas of the kitchen (venue) such as floors, walls, doors and even ceilings.

Safe food storage

Store dry food such as pasta, rice and fl our in containers in cupboards or on shelves. Fresh, chilled and frozen foods should clearly be stored in a fridge or freezer.

Tips for takeaways

Avoid takeaway trouble when you transport food to a customer by ensuring it is transported in packaging or containers that protect it from contamination and keep it at the correct temperature during transit.

It is equally important to keep chilled and frozen foods at the correct temperature and that raw and ready-to-eat foods are packed separately.

Train your team

You are legally bound to ensure your food handlers are given the correct supervision and training in food hygiene. The Food Standards Agency has free online food safety training courses for businesses, including food-labelling courses.

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