Bar Business June 2022

Page 8


HEALTH & Hospitality

BRINGING EMPATHY TO THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY The importance of empathy in mental health concerns and substance use disorder.




Bar Business Magazine

June 2022

substance misuse. It’s become a core cultural component that we project through our mission to help others. In the relentless nature of the hospitality and service industry—particularly food and beverage—empathy can quickly become as tolling as it is rewarding, and it’s something we immediately identified as a burgeoning dilemma in today’s hospitality industry. According to 2019 national statistics from the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry represents 10% of the workforce in the United States. That’s over 15 million workers. Substance misuse and mental health struggles are common narratives within the industry. The costs are also high. The estimated cost of drug abuse in the United States is more than $740 billion a year and growing, according to data reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. And drug abuse costs the nation more than $120 billion per year in lost productivity, according to The National Drug Intelligence Center. This was pre-COVID, but there is no doubt

these numbers have only increased since. Throughout COVID-19, a number of industries have experienced a period of reassessment. For hospitality, safety measures and regulations instigated a vast reassessment of the service and operations in hotels, restaurants, and bars, but it’s also brought about a reassessment of how we treat hospitality workers and how hospitality organizations can better empathize with the individuals that work their front lines. It’s a privilege to be able to expand WEconnect to the industry where I began, provide services even beyond recovery, and offer a convenient and effective resource for mental and emotional wellness. Hospitality will always strive to empathize with the guest. It’s our turn to return the favor. Daniela Luzi Tudor is co-founder and CEO of WEconnect Health Management. An entrepreneur, social impact advocate/investor, and person in long-term recovery, Daniela is the creator of the WEconnect platform (

Photos: WEconnect.

ven before COVID-19, you’d be hard-pressed not to find the word “empathy” floating around your LinkedIn or on a businessfocused social media account. Empathy is a vital, ubiquitous component of customer service, but establishing ethos is never simple—it’s actually far more nuanced and complicated. As a long-time bartender and promoter, empathy was a powerful tool for service—a compassionate and emotional investment in those I served across the bar, and those I collaborated with behind it. But as a person in recovery from addiction, the stress and toll of maintaining a persistent, empathetic demeanor on the clock could backfire, shifting from a helpful tool into an emotional burden that could transform into an excuse to drink and use. In recovery, the empathy I received from others helped save me, and it helped as I became the founder and CEO of WEconnect, an engaging, digital solution for addiction, behavioral health, and