Is it possible to bring self-care into the hospitality industry?
From my experience… yes, absolutely! I work in the hotel business and manage a large number of staff. The hospitality industry is all about service and customers.
In most places, most of the time, only the paying customers are seen as customers. As a manager, I see everyone as a customer, paying customers and staff alike, from chefs, to housekeepers, to waitresses, to waiters, to kitchen porters, to cleaners, to managers, to supervisors, to bosses, to owners… and the list can go on.
Bringing Equality into Service and Hospitality
If we were to take a step back and see ourselves all as equal and all as customers, then it becomes very important for employers and businesses to start bringing self-care into the workplace. After all, without healthy and joyful staff can there be any true care and true service in a business that is all about people?
I feel that the hospitality industry is all about service and through service we demonstrate everything about ourselves, and what we can offer. From greeting a customer at reception, to serving a meal at the table, to preparing the meal, to serving a drink, to cleaning a bedroom, the quality the respective staff members are bringing to all their tasks is felt by our customers.
When we are exhausted, tired, angry, frustrated or depleted it is felt throughout the whole hotel and all our customers feel it too. So it is ever so important that we are always working with self-care in mind, as our every action will affect everyone.
Over the last 3 years, with the loving support and inspiration received from Serge Benhayon, Universal Medicine and many other Universal Medicine practitioners, I have been able to bring some simple awareness and teachings on self-care into my personal life, and from there it has naturally expanded into our hotel business as well.
Expanding Self-Care to Include Business
Over the last few years I have been working consistently on looking after myself in a true sense. The most important turning point for me was when I realised that everything I do is felt by others. If I was exhausted, for example, all our staff and customers could feel how exhausted I was from my body language and through my communication.
As I began to support myself with rest times, taking the time to have regular meals, making changes with the food I was eating, and with anything causing me to feel exhausted, everything started to improve. My energy levels changed and I started to feel more alive again. This inspired me to keep working on myself and to expand even more on how I self-care.
As a result of my self-care I have now noticed that our staff have also been inspired to look after themselves in a more loving way too. They have all begun to take small steps to support themselves more lovingly in the workplace. Many used to drink lots of coffee and caffeine drinks to keep functioning, as working hours are long and often unsociable, but that has changed – most of them have now reduced caffeine intake or completely cut it out.
Most of our staff would skip meals or eat junk food and we found that at times we could get caught up in this food pattern too. We have always provided free meals for staff, but now we encourage healthy meals and break times to ensure they look after themselves.
We encourage staff to take a break: in the hospitality field it is very easy to keep working as the work never stops. Our service and reception staff now make the time to have breakfast if they are on early shifts, or lunch and dinner on late shifts.
Over the last 7 years of being in the hospitality industry, I have noticed that the chefs, generally, do not eat proper meals: constantly tasting food whilst cooking, when it comes to meal times they have no appetite left, and as they are so often exhausted, they no longer want to prepare any food for themselves. Instead of eating proper nutritious food, it has become the norm to keep going on endless cups of coffee, energy drinks, or alcohol.
To change this self-destructive pattern we encouraged our chefs to make nutritious meals for all staff and to sit down and share together, which they now do.
As a natural consequence they have reduced coffee and alcohol intake and they can feel the benefits of this level of care, feeling better within themselves. They are feeling less exhausted and therefore do not crave caffeine, alcohol and energy drinks as much.
The Ripple Effect of Self-Care
The atmosphere in the kitchen and the feel of the food prepared is also very different now: just this small change has transformed how the kitchen feels and this has changed the quality of the food that is provided, resulting in an increase in the number of customers dining in our restaurant.
We have also noticed a similar change with our housekeepers. They are also taking the time to look after themselves by taking breaks, expressing how they feel and asking for help when it is required.
This new level of self-care is felt in the public areas of the hotel, the rooms, the beds they make and the bathrooms they clean. In the public areas when they sit in front of the log fire or in the bar lounge area they feel a sense of calm, in the bedrooms they feel a sense of warmth. Lately most of our customers have shared with us how they find the hotel to be lovely, warm and cosy and that there is a very homely feeling.
All our staff are more joyful now, we all have a laugh and a giggle, and we are all seen as equal, just doing different roles. We have had staff leave and come back, sharing how they had appreciated the love and respect they experienced in being with us and that they had not experienced this anywhere else.
It has been something beautiful for us to appreciate, that the small self-care changes we have introduced as employers have had such a huge impact on many lives, staff and customers alike.
Our staff love coming to work and if we are in a situation and in need of extra help, they are happy to do extra hours. No job is too small or big. It’s a lovely space to work in. This has changed the customer base coming through and as a true reflection, business activity has increased through word of mouth recommendations.
We regularly get beautiful feedback from our customers and they tell us:
- “You have lovely staff”
- “You all make it very special”
- “We love the feel of your hotel”
- “Nothing is too much trouble”
Our aim is to provide a service with unconditional love in everything we do. This is what we are working to expand within the hospitality industry, a depth in the service we provide. We love what we do. This has all started with our own self-care and seeing everyone as equal, staff and customers alike.
As for the future there is definitely more for us to explore; for us, the journey has only just begun.
By Amita Khurana, BSc Information Technology, Hotel Director, Esoteric Practitioner – Bury St Edmunds, UK