Resilience in Hospitality

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Resilience in Hospitality

A Guide to Employee Mental Fitness for the Hospitality Industry




April 2022

Dear Utah Hospitality Business Leaders, Utah’s quality of life and its renown as a tourist destination for its breathtaking scenery, outdoor recreation, and countless restaurants and events venues, relies heavily on the work of businesses and employees in the hospitality industry. As an integral part of Utah’s economy and lifestyle, your industry is deeply important to Utah’s long-term success and prosperity. We recognize the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the mental and emotional wellness of Utah’s workforce, compounded by long-standing needs to address mental health. To this end, we’re pleased to present this new resource as a guide of best practices and tools for business leaders in the hospitality industry. This new guide is part of our Workforce Resilience Through Mental Fitness initiative, and will equip hospitality employers with data, tools, and best practices to increase resilience, reduce mental health challenges, and fortify the mental fitness and well-being of Utah’s hospitality professionals. We urge owners, leaders, and managers in this industry to review this guide and consider steps that can be taken to support the mental and emotional well-being of employees. Together, we can support the resilience and fitness of Utah’s hospitality workforce, ensuring they are well equipped to continue providing the world class hospitality Utah is known for.

Derek Miller President and CEO, Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance

Clark Ivory Co-Chair, Utah Community Builders Advisory Board CEO, Ivory Homes

Lisa Eccles Co-Chair, Utah Community Builders Advisory Board President and COO, George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation


The hospitality community in Utah has gone through massive shifts and tremendous changes over the course of the last two years. We continue to weather numerous unpredicted storms both as owners, operators, and extraordinarily talented and important professionals within the industry. The skillset needed to work in the hospitality industry is vast — we need to be able to multitask, be efficient, be physically strong, be critical thinkers, and quickly problem solve. We need to be flexible with our time and schedules, collaborative, and intentional. I might argue one of the most foundational skills in our industry that cannot be taught, but is a driving factor for many of us, is the desire to serve and connect with people. We find community in the back of the house, front of the house, and with our customers — all in the name of service and helping people have quality dining experiences. It’s an industry unlike any other and can come at a sacrifice to our own needs, mental health, and wellness. Our needs as individuals are equally as important as those of the people we serve. The Utah Restaurant Association not only recognizes this fact, but is working to champion tools to help our industry thrive well into the future. This, we know, will take time! Our industry was already struggling with mental health issues before the pandemic, and it has only exacerbated what was already difficult. And, out of pain, often comes the opportunity to see and shift so we can support ourselves and others. Hospitality professionals are truly the salt of the earth, and it’s time we placed an emphasis on caring for ourselves and for our guests. If there’s one thing we have learned from this very challenging chapter in our history, it is that we are leaders, supporters, and resilient beyond measure. The Utah Restaurant Association has devoted countless hours to advocating on behalf of the (restaurant) hospitality industry nationally, statewide and locally. We have spent time in the last year examining the mental health and well-being of our community. We have worked with our partners at the National Restaurant Association, United Healthcare, Optum, Salt Lake City, and wellness and mental health professionals to collect data and offer scientifically validated measures and information. We are grateful to have provided much of the information to support this collaboration between Utah Community Builders, the Salt Lake Chamber, and the Utah Restaurant Association. We are thrilled to educate and provide you with a few tools that will be helpful as we continue to offer support to ourselves and our industry. You matter! We matter, our industry matters, and every single person that works within our industry matters. Let’s work together to build our hospitality industry in Utah to be even stronger than it was before by putting people first and offering a new kind of hospitality, where everyone feels nourished and fed. Melva Sine President/CEO Utah Restaurant Association


Call to Action

Utah’s hospitality industry encompasses tourism, recreation, events, restaurants, hotels, and more. It’s a vital foundation for Utah’s recognition as one of the best states in the nation to live, work, and play. Workers in hospitality support the state’s tourism industry, which brings in more than $10 billion annually from outside visitors.1 The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been severe, exacerbating long-standing challenges to the resilience and mental fitness of the hospitality industry workforce, often evidenced by substance abuse.

Hospitality has one of the highest rates of substance abuse in any industry sector.2

The stigma and shame associated with mental health permeate all levels of society. Brain disorders should be seen the same as disorders of the kidney or the heart. Yet stigma causes inequity within health care systems and keeps policymakers from crafting laws free from discrimination. Stigma keeps people from seeking the treatment they need, robs them of their joy in life and well-being, and, in the worst case, results in ultimate harm. Mark Hyman Rapaport, MD CEO Huntsman Mental Health Institute

Clinical depression affects at least 10.3% of food service workers.3

Unusual working hours, variability of income, high–stress work, and the prevalence of substance abuse are just some of the factors that can strain the mental and emotional wellness of workers in hospitality, particularly the restaurant industry. But the closeknit community and this industry’s orientation toward serving others create incredible opportunities to advance a culture of mental fitness. 3 1 2


Reframing the conversation to “Mental Fitness” Sometimes just the term “mental health” can carry a negative stigma. To address this, we can draw a comparison to our physical health. Physical fitness includes the culture and practices we engage in daily that help our bodies and support our overall physical health. Similarly, mental fitness includes the culture and practices that support the overall health of our minds. Maintaining both our physical health and mental health sometimes require seeking help from trained professionals. But there are also practices that businesses and individuals can engage in to support well-being, in other words, things all of us can do to create a culture of mental fitness.

This guide is a call to action for the hospitality industry. The information and resources below will help you incorporate mental and emotional fitness into current HR and management practices to help hospitality workers, their families, and businesses in this vital industry thrive. This guide is not a substitute for treatment for mental illness from qualified healthcare professionals. However, it is our hope that the information and resources here will educate businesses about best practices for creating healthy work environments, and equip them with the ability to connect employees with the right professional resources whenever the need arises.

This Resilience in Hospitality is organized in three key sections: 1. Leader Modeling

2. Manager Training

3. Employee Resources


Section 1:

Leader Modeling

Creating a culture of resilience and mental fitness in the hospitality industry can’t simply be a side project or function of HR. To be truly successful, this requires top leadership in the business to demonstrate commitment to the resilience and mental fitness of all employees.

The most impactful way to signal the importance of resilience and mental fitness in your workforce is to model the behavior that leads to resilience, and be open with your employees about it. Employees at every level who see their leaders model the words and actions that support resilience and mental fitness at work are more likely to follow suit.

Establishing a direct and kind approach with our managers and associates helps build trust and empathy. This bond over time will help managers identify when a team member is dealing with mental health issues. Building that trust will also help the individual reach out for assistance. Brandon Hansen General Manager HYATT PLACE Salt Lake City Downtown/The Gateway


Assessing Your Business Consider forming small focus groups including different types of employees. Include leadership like HR directors or other senior employees, as well as employees who aren’t in leadership positions. Invite open and honest conversations in these focus groups, and try to answer the following questions: 1. Is resilience and mental fitness discussed in our workplace? Or do employees feel like they can’t talk about it? 2. What’s the impact to our teams and our business if our workers are experiencing poor mental fitness or struggling with substance abuse? 3. When do workers experience the most stress, worry, or loneliness? 4. What is our company doing to support employees? What is working? Where are the gaps? 5. What are the barriers to employees accessing the resources or services we DO provide? 6. Is there a written policy clearly establishing resilience and mental fitness as a company value? 7. Do workers feel they’d have a safe person to talk to (like their direct supervisor) if they ever felt like they were struggling? Record the answers to these questions. They’ll give you a clear sense of where to start, and where to improve. Then, consider having follow up conversations to track progress, and ensure mental fitness is an ongoing discussion in your workplace.


The hospitality industry is centered around taking care of others, but sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves and our teams, and the pandemic has only made this worse. In an industry challenged by high rates of mental illness, we can make a difference for our employees starting today. We can share resources, openly discuss mental health, model healthy practices that support resilience and mental fitness, and simply be kind. Let’s start simply. Let’s talk about it. Kelly Lake Managing Partner Lux Events

Section 2:

Manager Tools and Training

Those who directly manage others are well-positioned to build the resilience and mental fitness of their teams. Equipping them with the right tools and training reaches workers through organic peer connections. Consider the following key tools and training resources with which to equip your managers:

Question, Persuade, and Refer (QPR) Just as people trained in CPR save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help.

Working Minds This is designed for managers and business leaders. Working Minds trains organizations to proactively address the early warning signs of suicide in the workplace. Working Minds is a 2-hour training that gives participants the skills and tools to appreciate the critical need for suicide prevention while creating a forum for dialogue and critical thinking about workplace mental health challenges, and by promoting help-seeking and help-giving.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Mental Health First Aid is a skills-based training course that teaches participants about mental health and substance-use issues. In the Mental Health First Aid course, you learn risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help. This is an 8-hour course. To set up one of the FREE trainings listed for your managers, contact the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition at:

Visit the QPR Institute at Vist Mental Health First Aid at Visit Working Minds at


Training and Resources Utah Community Builders and the Salt Lake Chamber are partnering with multiple organizations in Utah to provide free or discounted resources exclusive to Salt Lake Chamber members as part of the Workforce Resilience Through Mental Fitness initiative. These resources include manager training, consultations, assessments, and digital mental health resources for employees. To learn more and find the resource that’s right for your business, visit our Workforce Resilience page:

Blue Star Pledge The Blue Star Pledge encourages business owners and community leaders to prioritize their own mental health and well-being, along with their employees and the communities they serve, in everyday policies and overall best practices.

Winger Brothers Management places an important emphasis on the well-being of their employees. This means more than merely offering a skillset to combat negative life experiences both personally and professionally. Well-being is inclusive of harnessing our strengths and an optimistic perspective to cultivate positivity as a resource to counteract and build on these strengths creating a supportive environment in which people can thrive. Our commitment to the Blue Star Pledge allows us to commit too and see this invaluable growth within the workplace and within each member of our work family. Abbey Bronzati Well-Being Ambassador Wingers


The pledge supports owners by offering comprehensive wellness training and resources to incorporate and practically integrate the science of well-being into your business through company wide education and internal management, beginning at the leadership level. bluestarpledge-utah

Section 3:

Worker Resources

With managers trained and equipped with the right tools, they’re able to better respond to the needs of workers. It’s also important to connect workers to crisis intervention resources. These resources can be used for themselves, their spouses, their kids, or their friends. Consider printing off the following resources pages, and posting them prominently for all employees to see.


Resources for Hospitality Workers 988 New national suicide prevention and mental health crisis lifeline — 988 — that will route all callers, texters, chatters to the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Compassionate, accessible care and support will be available for anyone experiencing mental health-related distress — whether that is thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crisis, or any other kind of emotional distress. People can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.

SafeUT • Chat with a licensed counselor for support or submit a confidential tip right from your phone • Original SafeUT app targets students, parents, educators and others • Search for the SafeUT app on Google Play or Apple App Store

Live On Utah • Education, resources, and support to prevent suicide available on the Live On website: • Request more info at:

Additional Resources to Help with Mental Health or Substance Abuse • Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health


Additional Mental Health Resources and Communities PatientsLikeMe For questions about symptoms, medications, and conditions for yourself, your kids, your loved ones. Go to PatientsLikeMe to gain insights and improve outcomes. Hospitality-specific resources:

Ben’s Friends Hospitality-focused substance use support network. Safe environment for people on the front lines in restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality industries. Click here to find a meeting near you or access telephonic meetings.

Active Minds Resources to stay mentally healthy during this time of crisis. Access a resources hub for help during the COVID-19 pandemic, including stress management, community building from a distance, and tips for remote workers. Click here for more information.

Psych Hub The most comprehensive online learning platform on mental health, substance use, and suicide prevention topics in the world:

Optum Emotional support hotline. Need a little support? Call 1-866-342-6892 for help anytime, from anywhere.

Substance Use Disorder Hotline In crisis? Call 1-855-780-5955 or visit for immediate help anytime, from anywhere.


Additional Tips and Educational Resources

Rally for Health





Working in the hospitality industry can be stressful, but also incredibly rewarding. The services that businesses in this diverse industry provide enrich our communities and our economy. Business leaders in foodservice, entertainment and events, outdoor recreation, and other parts of the hospitality industry who prioritize resilience and mental fitness through leader modeling, training managers, and ensuring resources are available to employees, will move the needle for the workforce, their families, and our entire state.

For more information on the Workforce Resilience initiative, visit Utah Community Builders, the Salt Lake Chamber’s social impact foundation: Or contact Nic Dunn, Director, at:

For more information on the Utah Restaurant Association, hospitality well-being resources (including mental health and wellness), training or consulting, and the Blue Star pledge visit: Or contact Katy Sine, Wellness Advocate at:


Special thanks to Utah Community Builders Foundational Investor: