In a survey by luxury hospitality recruiter, The Change Group, of 246 people working in London’s top hospitality businesses, one in five workers cited smoking (23%) and alcohol (22%) as the main routes to relieving stress in the workplace.
A further eight out of 10 people surveyed said they had experienced stress at work.
Around one in eight respondents (12%) take exercise to relieve stress, 9% sleep, and 4% see friends or meditate. Some 2% will eat to ease stress and 15% will simply do nothing.
Long and anti-social hours were the main reason given as the primary cause of stress at work (45% of respondents), with demanding employers (19%) and kitchen culture (18%) being the two next most important factors. Some 30% of front of house employees also cited long hours as a more significant cause of stress, compared to the 26% who said demanding customers.
Additionally, 36% of hospitality employees said the left their previous job to find a better work-life balance.
Craig Allen, founder and director of The Change Group, said: “Hospitality can be a very rewarding industry that provides opportunities for being creative and entrepreneurial. However, hospitality is also very hard work, and the hours can be long and anti-social.
Improving work-life balance is now one of the top three priorities for many of the top London-based restaurants and hospitality businesses that we recruit for.
“Employers are looking at how they can better structure rotas, flexibility and benefits to create the best environment for employees to thrive. But as an industry, we all need to work together to do more.”
Mark Lewis, chief executive of Hospitality Action, added, “This new data shows once again that stress is part of everyday life in hospitality environments. While some people thrive on it, many do not, and it can lead to serious health issues which in turn impact on individuals’ lives at home and at work.
“The fact that so many people said that their antidote to stress is either cigarettes or alcohol, and that so few workers are taking time to exercise, sleep and use mindfulness techniques, means that basic levels of education are still required. At Hospitality Action, we are committed to supporting hospitality professionals, no matter what type of difficulty they face.”