Employees in the restaurant industry work hard to meet the expectations and needs of customers and employers. As a result of the high stress work environment, many employees neglect their own mental and physical health. The nonprofit, Mental Health America, released a two year study that concluded that the environment in the restaurant industry is correlated with high levels of mental health issues. And countless researchers have established a clear relationship between mental and physical health. While most restaurants aren’t able to provide health insurance, there are other ways to promote employee health and wellness in your restaurant. Here are some suggestions:

Create a Conversation

Restaurant managers and owners should work to create an open communication network with their employees. They should feel comfortable coming to you with questions, comments, concerns, or requests regarding their personal health. It is important to create an open and comfortable relationship with your employees because you may be able to see a problem coming, like burnout, and find a way to prevent it. There’s no shame in making yourself approachable.

Offer Benefits that Promote Physical and Mental Wellness

From group fitness activities to financial incentives, there are many different perks and benefits that restaurants can entice their employees with. For example, employers can offer stipends for employees to spend on activities or expenses that are related to fitness and health. Companies like Qdoba Mexican Grill offer annual biometric screenings to their employees and those who participate can earn up to $520 a year in insurance premium discounts.

Advocate for Healthier Food and Drink Habits

When employees breaks are long enough to eat without feeling rushed, they are more likely to eat full, balanced meals instead of fast food or other unhealthy choices that are quick and easy to consume. Restaurants should work to ensure that employees have adequate time to remain fueled and hydrated, and water should be available to employees throughout their shifts.  Bars and restaurants with liquor sales can go the extra mile to promote healthier habits — and save money — by getting rid of shift drinks.

Promote Outside Resources

No matter how open and supportive a work environment may be, some staff members won’t feel comfortable seeking assistance from their employer. In order to support employees who may be hesitant to reach out, restaurants should provide all staff members with information on outside resources.

Meditation apps or Youtube channels for yoga can help alleviate the stress and the feeling of burning out that is commonly found in the restaurant industry. Groups and organizations like Bar Harm, Restaurant Recovery, and Chefs with Issues help restaurant workers address mental health and addiction while creating an open dialogue to destigmatize the conversation around these topics. Turning to resources like these can be a simple and easy way to help your employees.

Why Employee Health Matters

Advocating for employee health and creating a workplace environment conducive to healthy lifestyles benefits more than just the employees. By promoting physical, mental, and emotional wellness, restaurants experience increased retention and employee satisfaction rates, as well as a decrease in the use of employee sick days. Plus, happy and healthy employees shape a positive workplace culture and public image. The bottomline is that the happier and healthier your employees are, the easier and better your business runs.