© Ravi Wazir, 2020

Stress in a 365 Day Industry

As a Catering College trainee, I always wondered how people in the industry survived extreme work hours day after day with neither proper meals nor enough rest. They appeared to be tough men married to their jobs in an industry that never stops. Only much later did I observe the end results of such a lifestyle.

High B.P., ulcers, migraines, heart disease and other psychosomatic disorders are some of the consequences of huge physical or mental demands. Of course the type of task or situation involved and the personality profile of the individual also affect his capacity to respond. Most hospitality professionals are exposed to the pressure of competitiveness and time. Club that with peer pressure, traffic, pollution, mobile phones and personal misfortune and you have a bomb waiting to explode. Stress and today’s executives are inseparable.

Strangely enough, even some of life’s most positive events have been known to cause stress – marriage, parenthood, promotion and the like. So we could safely say that it is the causes of stress that are positive or negative, but stress in itself is a neutral event. In fact at the workplace it may even improve the environment by increasing work intensity, alertness or the ability to react. A life without stress would be a life without challenge, stimulation or change.

All of us are thus exposed to stress one way or another and it is in our best interest to deepen our capacity to respond to it. Let’s take a look at some of the suggested remedies.

Which of these cures appeal to us and to what extent is a matter of personal choice.

It is debatable whether the incorporation of such routines should be left to the individual or whether the employing organisation should get involved. Indian companies are now following their Japanese and American counterparts in the pursuit of advancement through stress management – solve your employees’ problems and they will solve yours. Loss of productivity on account of stress related occurrences such as accidents, absenteeism and medical expenses are certainly worth a look, if nothing at least for the bottom line.

Increasing an employee’s control over key elements in his work place would certainly help. This could be achieved by offering more autonomy, feedback and task definition. Some large companies even offer a “wellness” program including workshops to quit smoking, control alcohol, loose weight, eat better or exercise regularly. Others extend a club membership or a paid vacation ticket.

It is in the management’s interest to take an active stance in the area of stress awareness and response to whatever extent is possible / affordable. Remember, the premature loss of valued employees means the loss of experienced personnel and the additional cost of replacing them.