Why Your Chefs Need Access to Support

Posted on June 6, 2017 by Michelle Locke

In the Waitrainer+ offices lately, we’ve been talking a lot about the issues that affect restaurants and their employees. Our CEO, Todd Edman, brought up the rate of depression among restaurant employees. After we did a little research as a group, we found that the CDC ranks the restaurant industry as one profession most likely to experience depression; around 10% of restaurant workers experience depression, with 15% of women in the restaurant industry reporting at least on depressive episode a year.

Those numbers are astounding. As well, restaurant workers rank high on the CDC’s 2016 of professions most likely to commit suicide. You can read that study here.

In June, we decided to focus on the need for mental health resources and improved employee morale in the restaurant industry. We believe that restaurants are exciting, fast-paced places to work; but without a focus on employee morale, the high pressure, odd hours, and intense focus can be isolating.

This is especially true of chefs.

Your Chefs (& Kitchen Staff) Need Access to Support

Here’s why: unlike traditional professions where work-life balance has become a way of life (working from home, foosball tables in break rooms), it’s harder to implement in restaurants. The stress of a restaurant is different from the stress of being a doctor or surgeon, but it’s still incredibly high.

The negative aspects of working in a restaurant have also become glamorized. With TV shows like “Iron Chef,” “Chopped,” and anything with Gordon Ramsay, the high-pressured and dangerous side of being a chef, or member of a kitchen staff, have become exciting. But in reality, working like that can be stressful over a long period of time. (You can read more about how a lack of work-life balance affects restaurant workers here.)

This isn’t to say all restaurants can be bad places to work. By and large, most restaurant workers love their jobs—but it remains a high-pressure, service focused job, with strange hours. That can be stressful for even the most dedicated employee! According to Big Table, restaurant workers not only have high rates of depression (and sometimes suicide), but also have some of the highest rates of drug abuse. Learn more about that here.

How can you help your chefs & kitchen staff? Offer them support, even if it’s just a chance to talk through their stress. If mistakes are happening, getting to the bottom of the issue (a procedure that doesn’t work, they need an extra prep chef, etc.) can help resolve those issues; it just requires communication.

Want to offer your kitchen staff and chefs resources? Here’s a list we love: