According to some estimates, the global wellness industry is now worth around AUD $6 trillion – but you probably don’t need a statistic to see that. Juice bars, yoga studios and health-tracking wristbands are everywhere. New types of diets and training emerge everyday with even celebrities hopping on the bandwagon.
Focussing on one’s health is generally a good thing though; who can deny that greater attention to health and wellness will lead to a higher quality of life? What we’re seeing in business, though – including hotel management – is that health is more than a personal issue. It’s a key driver of performance. That’s why nutrition, exercise, and relaxation amenities are becoming more common in the corporate world.
As hotels become more and more competitive, managers find themselves digging deeper into the metrics of success. We’re looking for new ways to optimise – and despite all the high-tech solutions, our search for better performance keeps leading us back to the basics: Recruitment, talent management, work culture… and yes, personal health. In other words, people.
Managers should never forget that their own health is a vital part of this overall “people” equation. The relentless pace of the job can be stressful and tiring. A good manager is adept at looking after guests and employees, but looking after one’s self can often get lost in the shuffle.
A study around work stress in the hotel industry from some years ago found that “the stress situation appears to be particularly acute for hotel managers” more so than hourly employees and that there is a steep organisational cost in failing to address problems around stress. (The study also found that interpersonal issues added the greatest stress, but that is a topic for another day.) As leaders in our industry, optimising our own performance is a question of organisational health – the ways we can do that are simple.
Quality sleep enhances learning and memory, reduces risk of disease, and decreases anxiety. On the other hand, a hotel manager who is not well-rested will find it more difficult to perceive the complexities of the job and make optimal day-to-day decisions. This seems self-evident, but many of us think we are superheroes who can get by on less and less sleep.
The Sleep Health Foundation is one of many places to find information on how to improve your quality of sleep for better work performance. Recommendations include keeping a regular sleeping schedule, staying away from digital devices for an hour or two before sleep, keeping distractions away from your sleeping area, and getting at least 7 hours per night – it sounds easy but we all know how hard this is.
Like sleep, nutrition has a profound effect on a hotel manager’s productivity. A high-carb breakfast like muffins, pastries or cereals can be filling and pleasurable, but such foods will inevitably slow down your cognitive abilities and affect your mood. Sugary foods are also a potential performance hazard, since they cause blood sugar to spike and crash.
Generally speaking, foods with a high nutrient value (e.g. sweet potatoes, leafy greens, boiled eggs, nuts, healthy fruits) can help us optimise cognition and performance whilst keeping us satiated throughout the day.
Getting enough water is another one of the most important ways to look after yourself on the job. The cognitive effects of dehydration – including a shorter attention span and inability to absorb new information – are well-known. Most health organisations in Australia recommend around 2.1 litres per day for women, and 2.6 litres per day for men. It also helps to eat fruits and vegetables that have a high water content.
Exercise & Posture
There is no aspect of health that isn’t improved by regular exercise – but for the hotel manager, lower stress levels and clearer thinking are among the most important. If you can fit exercise into your workday – a yoga class, a stationary bike ride, a walk around the neighbourhood – you’ll come back to work with a relaxed body and a refreshed perspective. A number of hotel managers find ways to combine work with health by arranging organised walks with their key staff during lunch breaks or even offering guests a run with the GM in the morning.
Good posture is another key component of health and wellness, affecting both physical health and cognition. Hotel managers are often on their feet, but long periods of sitting can also be involved. Making simple changes to your sitting and standing postures (like investing in a standing desk) will have a tangible impact on daily performance and overall health.
I’ve known a lot of executives who do a good job promoting the wellbeing of employees whilst allowing their own stress-levels to spiral out of control. Those who are serious about accelerating their careers will often skip breaks and work overtime, but these behaviours can lead to burnout and poor performance if taken to the extreme.
I practice Kendo for relaxation but I often encourage others to break their routine by reading a book, having a conversation that isn’t related to work, or get outside for a walk. Some of my best meetings with former staff were when we got out of the hotel an went for a walk. Stepping away from the rigours of the job, even if only for a few minutes, can make a big difference to performance. The fast-pace of being a hotel manager is part of its appeal – but we have to periodically remind ourselves to slow down and relax.
Better performance from the inside out
There’s no denying that health and wellness – along with the trillions of dollars it generates every year – have had a major influence on the hotel product. It’s only natural that the focus on wellbeing should be extended to hotel employees in order to create healthier teams and work cultures from the inside out. As a hotel manager, you are a critical part of this equation. Learning how to optimise your own health is one of the best things you can do for your employees, your guests, and yourself – not to mention your bottom line.
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