A certain amount of stress is reasonable and acceptable, but it becomes an issue when it is excessive and ongoing. As a hospitality manager, it is essential to understand and recognise stress in the workplace and apply certain techniques to manage and reduce stress levels for themselves and others and find a positive work-life balance.


What Do We Mean by “Workplace Stress”?

A simple way to think about stress, and particularly workplace stress, is when there is a mismatch between the expectations of the job role, the employee’s capabilities and the resources and support available to them. This is when we see workplace stress!

We all experience stress, and most jobs involve a degree of stress, which can affect people at every level of an organisation. Although it is normal to experience this emotional strain in our lives and at work, it can seriously damage our physical and mental health when this becomes sustained and ongoing.


What Are the Main Factors of Work-Related Stress?

Work-related stress can come from a single issue or grows from a variety of problems and challenges. For instance, the uncertain times' many businesses, particularly in hospitality, are going through due to the COVID-19 pandemic can impact job security through cost-cutting, downsizing and bankruptcies – These all bring significant change to the workplace. However, even organisations that have done well (comparatively) through this crisis may still be putting employees under increased pressure through greater responsibility, production demands, and pay cuts, to name a few.


What Can Cause Work-Related Stress? 

  • Low morale: Low morale leads to feelings of powerlessness in workers, which impacts productivity. Some of the most affected roles include service-oriented jobs such as hotel and restaurant staff. 

  • Management style: When good management practices such as involvement in decision-making, two-way communication, and a strong teamwork culture are missing, employees will feel unsupported and excluded, all adding to increased worker stress.

  • Career concerns: Job insecurity and/or career development plays a significant role in increasing workplace tension. Employees that are worried about losing their jobs will, understandably, fret and have increased stress levels.  This also goes for employees who either don’t have opportunities for advancement or are “thrown in at the deep end.”

  • Job responsibilities: How tasks and responsibilities are delegated and assigned can significantly impact workers stress level. Key factors include unclear objective setting, unachievable goals, challenging working conditions, lack of resources to complete tasks, long hours, unnecessary routine tasks and more.

  • Work environment: The mentioned factors are generally of an emotional nature in terms of their impact on an employee. However, employers also need to think about the impact of their workplace environment, particularly with noise, lack of privacy, inadequate facilities or even temperature.

The Hospitality Industry and Stress

The hospitality industry needs to ensure every tourist or visitor has a comfortable and safe experience, whether in a hotel or restaurant or other venues. The hospitality workforce plays a critical role in achieving results and ensuring all customers are satisfied. But many factors increase the risks of organisations having a highly stressed workforce. For example, a recent study (Rao, E., & Goel, A. [2018]. Factors Causing Work-Related Stress in the Hospitality Sector...) found that hotel workers stress levels increase due to six key factors:

  • Workload
  • Control over work
  • Role clarity
  • Interpersonal relations
  • Managerial support
  • Organisational policies

These six components map over to the general elements influencing workplace stress and show how the hospitality industry needs to stay alert to reduce these issues whenever possible.  An excellent place to start is to help and prepare managers to build resilience in their employees.


What Can Hospitality Managers Do to Recognise Stress in Their Team?

Recognising stress in the hospitality workforce is essential, and all managers should be aware of the signs both in themselves and in others. And developing their emotional intelligence can help managers become more “in tune” with their team to understand their emotions and feelings, even when those feelings may not be obvious. 

Stress will set off “an alarm” within the brain that releases stress hormones to defend the body against the stressor. We can observe increased heart rate, breathing, tenseness and perspiration. We refer to this phenomenon as the “fight or flight “ response, which is part of our biological makeup. However, there is also an impact from repeated and sustained stress levels on our nervous systems, which can lead to:

  • High blood pressure
  • Indigestion
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Increased use of drugs or alcohol
  • Poor job performance
  • Lack of attention span
  • Procrastination

Unfortunately, these symptoms can lead to more severe issues such as cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, psychological problems and workplace injuries. This increases the importance for managers working in the hospitality industry to be aware of and look out for the symptoms in their employees.


Six Stress Management Techniques Hospitality Managers Should Apply

“When people like their lives, and that includes work life, they’ll do a better job of taking care of themselves.”


Jeffrey Pfeffer

Professor of Organizational Behavior at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

It is critical for hospitality managers and any leader to recognise stress in the workplace and apply specific techniques and strategies to manage and reduce stress levels for themselves and their team. It will positively affect their employees’ work-life balance, happiness, and overall productivity in the long run.

Download these six stress management techniques and start implementing them today.