How managers can reduce employee stress in spa & hospitality

reduce employee stress

Employee stress is a factor in hospitality and your team’s wellbeing is as important as that of your guests. Here’s how to reduce employee stress and make a difference.

Working in spa and hospitality is stressful. Work is demanding and the pressure to offer the ultimate guest experience while keeping up with safety protocols can be a lot to handle. Burnout, as we all know, is not uncommon.

Moreover, a recent report found that travel and hospitality employees are the least likely out of all industries surveyed to feel valued at work. And separate research found that feeling undervalued at work was correlated with the highest levels of workplace stress. In other words: hospitality is already a stressful sector, and the common feeling of being undervalued adds stress to that stress.

The five elements we need to thrive

This costs hospitality companies. Stress has been called the “health epidemic of the 21st century” by the World Health Organization and the “business world’s silent killer” by Forbes. It’s estimated to cost American businesses alone up to $300 billion a year.

The hospitality world is very focused on creating a stress-free guest experience and on guest wellbeing. Managers should also be sure to spend time and energy on the wellness and wellbeing of their employees.

Employee wellbeing matters for your wellness business

Advisory company Gallup studied wellbeing in more than 98% of the world’s population and identified five common elements that people need to thrive in their professional and personal lives. Gallup found that how employees rate these five elements affects business outcomes:

  • Career: You like what you do every day.
  • Social: You have meaningful friendships in your life.
  • Financial: You manage your money well.
  • Community: You like where you live.
  • Physical: You have energy to get things done.

employee stressWe spoke to Ryan Wolf, Gallup’s Physical Wellbeing Lead, about how hospitality leaders can apply those five principles to reduce employee stress, improve wellbeing, and create healthy, happy workplaces. Here’s how he answered our questions.


What’s the manager’s role in employee wellbeing?

Workplace wellness started as a way for employers to shed some of their increasing healthcare costs. So, a lot of the initiatives were to help employees lose weight or get more exercise. But workplace wellness has evolved tremendously over the past 30-40 years, and now integrates all determinants of health and happiness. It’s not just going to the gym and eating broccoli, it’s thinking about how your relationships and your career support your health.

Leadership needs to have a strategy for wellbeing and managers can make or break that strategy. It can be challenging because they don’t necessarily want to be a wellbeing expert or a life coach for their employees. But they don’t need to be the experts. They just need to be conduits and good dot connectors to help identify available resources based upon specific needs. Sometimes these resources are available through programs already available in the organization, and sometimes they are outside the organizations. Everyone has a special wellbeing need. Our needs are as individualized as we are individual human beings. Recognizing an individual’s needs and supporting them in finding the resources they need is the manager’s role.

How do the five elements Gallup identified factor in?

Physical wellbeing is often the first pathway people focus on, but now we think of physical wellbeing as efficiently managing your energy so you can take care of the important things in your life: having creative and mental energy for work and emotional energy for relationships. The work we do, the passion that we pour into it, the purpose and meaning that we get out of our work, our relationships and friendships, are all very important for longevity, physical wellbeing, and happiness.

Can you talk about ways to avoid burning out employees?

Gallup also identified five major reasons that people burn out: being treated unfairly, an unmanageable workload, a lack of expectations within their role, lack of communication, and unreasonable time pressure. It’s the responsibility of leaders to address these issues.

We’ve also found four elements that employees need from leaders. These are hope, stability, trust, and compassion. Leaders should be intentional about these things. Caring about people is very simple. It comes down to caring about people more than just their productive units and knowing that engagement at work is highly linked and correlated to wellbeing.

How can managers lift some of the employee stress their teams are experiencing right now?

Being communicative, helping people understand what’s expected of them, and being clear about the organization’s financial situation and what the plans are going forward are very important at this time.

Another thing is playing to the strengths of each individual employee and understanding what makes them tick and the kind of work in which they thrive. Identify that setting and help them develop by doing more of that.

CliftonStrengths is a tool that we use to help individuals identify their strengths. There are four domains of strengths: relationship building, strategic thinking, influencing, and executing. Someone who is a really high executer likes to get things done. They might like checklists and just doing hard work. It wouldn’t necessarily be wise to have that person at the front desk of the hotel or spa, checking people in and making small talk. We’d want to put someone who thrives in relationship building and influencing in front of people. So, they can be more of who they are and help the clientele feel comfortable.

What makes a great employee wellness experience?

We need to think about who these individuals are and help them carve a path to explore and experiment with ways to live their best life. Rather than providing programs that try to fit everyone in a box, we should be giving people the autonomy to experiment with what might work best for them.

It’s time to look into our crystal balls and predict the future for the year ahead. Subscribe to our newsletter and download our special report on the trends we’ll be watching: Nine spa and wellness trends for 2021. Download here.

Spa Executive is published by Book4Time, the leader in guest management, revenue and mobile solutions for the most exclusive spas, hotels, and resorts around the globe. Learn more at

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