Return-to-work mental health guide for hospitality business owners

Restaurants, pubs and cafés continue to reopen around Australia for dining in, which will have different impacts for hospitality workers and owners as well as the general public.

Many people will be feeling anxious about the prospect of public venues being open again. This is understandable – advice around the coronavirus is constantly evolving, so keeping up with the relevant information can be tricky.

If you’re a venue owner, successfully returning to business isn’t as simple as just re-opening the doors. Ensuring staff and customers are comfortable and safe in the environment is crucial.

Tick all the boxes

Whether you’re new to the game or a hospitality veteran, you’ll be facing never-before-seen challenges. Restrictions around the number of patrons is the obvious one, but there are also a host of other issues around managing bookings, the length of time diners can stay for and complying with new hygiene protocols.

While it’s great that you are opening your doors again, it needs to be done in the right manner. This means being as informed as possible about government requirements so you can make good decisions to ensure peace of mind for yourself and give confidence to employees and patrons.

Look after staff

Employees may be concerned about job security, which is a legitimate concern given the uncertainty of the situation. You should address this issue directly by being open and honest with staff, keeping them in the loop as the landscape continues to change.

Some employees may be anxious about working in such close proximity to other people, so it’s important to speak with staff about how they’re feeling. Try to provide as much support as possible and ensure each member of staff knows you are complying with the COVID-19 safe workplace principles.

Be transparent with patrons

This is also an uncertain time for your customers, many of whom will want to support you and return to more normality but might be unsure about the process. Cut out the confusion by communicating clearly with the public, through social media, the business website or even physical signage at the restaurant, as well as speaking openly about how you are operating. Make sure you and your employees are consistent in what you say.

When creating promotional material, make sure to include updated opening hours and advice on how to book, as well as any other information you might feel is important, such as plans for when restriction further ease. This will not only encourage patrons to support your venue but to do so in a manner that helps you operate as smoothly as possible.

Read how one café has adapted to normal.

Take care of yourself

Of course, you’ll need to look after yourself during this period. While it will be tempting to throw yourself completely into your work, make sure to take some time to prioritise self-care and your own mental health. This includes eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising daily and accessing your support networks.

Creating a wellbeing plan is one way to make sure you have the strategies in place to look after your employees’ mental health and wellbeing – and your own.

Beyond Blue’s Workplace wellbeing resources for small business owners include two useful guides.

The Personal Wellbeing Plan is designed to help small business owners ensure they have the strategies in place to look after their mental health and wellbeing. It can also help you plan for future success in your business.

The Workplace Wellbeing Plan helps small business owners who employ staff identify ways to create a mentally healthy workplace.

This guide was created by Victorian Small Business Commission for small business owners to help support their mental wellbeing helpful, too.


Stay in touch with us

Sign up below for regular emails filled with information, advice and support for you or your loved ones.

Sign me up