A sullen staff member can be more than just an annoyance for a restaurant operator or guest. If the person isn’t simply having a bad day but doesn’t care about providing quality service, it’s a red flag for food safety risks. Angela Anandappa, the founding executive director of the nonprofit Alliance for Advanced Sanitation, said in an interview with Mashed that low morale at restaurants can signal inadequate training, poor management, high stress and staff turnover, understaffing, concerns about pay, and personality clashes. None of these problems inspire guests to trust you to prepare the foods they are about to eat. That’s why it’s important to regularly assess your working environment and observe staff in action to understand where morale issues may be lurking. An employee may need support, or perhaps a more pervasive workplace issue needs changing.
As labor challenges in the restaurant industry have persisted, mental health has taken the spotlight. How restaurants help employees manage the stresses of the work, which have surged during the pandemic, will play a role in their ability to retain and attract staff as we move out of it. While some restaurants are approaching this by offering more flexible schedules, family-friendly hours and insurance or well-being benefits, a Denver restaurant made news recently for hiring an in-house, full-time therapist to help employees with mental health challenges day to day. While it may sound like a measure unlikely to become commonplace in restaurants, most restaurants can expect employees (and potential employees) to scrutinize how they treat mental health concerns going forward – and whether newly improved policies are actually practiced within the business. How are you addressing mental health concerns in your business?