Burnout is often defined as: “a syndrome resulting from chronic work-related stress, with symptoms characterized by feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy” (Source WHO, World Health Organization)
Since today Monday 4th May in Italy starts the so called “Phase2”, when the majority of shops and activities will slowly re-start. Despite the major open policy, restaurants, coffee shops and pubs remain closed up to the 1st of June as to be confirmed.
This situation is adding uncertainty to a portion of population represented by the workers in the tourism and hospitality sector. Not only this categories still don’t know if the 1st June will be a confirmed date but they don’t know yet the guidelines and the best practices to apply as to manage customer’s security and provide at the same time a quality service.
After 60days of total lockdown Italy restarts.
But there is this major part of the population which necessities remain unheard. Workers and managers have to face a reality difficult to manage and to live: activities closed for three months won’t restart just by turning on the lights. There is something deeper if we consider the social and psychological face of this situation.
Baristas, owners or just waiters are stuck at home since three months (considering June the reopening time). Mental health, attitutde towards work and overall mindset are hardly challenged.
How can you stay healthy if your life is based upon uncertainty and your very next future is helld on a stand by situation?
When the hospitality sector will reopen we have to face a sad reality: economic crisis will coexist with social crisis.
Unemployment, lower incomes, lowered spending power and a general uncertainty will beat hard on the sector’s workforce.
When speaking about burnout we refer to one individual attitude. Now the situation is becoming a collective issue and not only the problem of a single individual. After three months of isolation people will have to learn again how to deal with audience, customer’s demand and how to manage not only work-related stress but how to re-organize their entire life routine.
This is a taboo in our society.
It is easier to show that “everything will be fine”, instead of asking if “are we gonna be fine?”.
Working in the food sector/hospitality is enough stressful in normal conditions, now we have to add to this: helth guidelines, distances to be kept, sanitizers to be available for customers, workers that had to be fired due to the lack of work, bills to be paid despite the missing income and the list can go on.
Just to take a category as example, baristas. They are experiencing a heavily lack of work offer, like never before. How many baristas could re-invent themselves? Maybe the younger but think about someone aged 40 that has always been a barista. What can the future of this person be?
It is easily understand that burnout in this case will occour not from excessive work but due to a lack of employment. People will have to face something unpreceedent in our modern story, something that we are ashamed and afraid to talk about.
Workers will lost their good attitude towards professionalism, the main goal will be survival.
*Personal readings for stress management:
Come vincere lo stress e cominciare a vivere, Dale Carnegie (I grandi tascabili Vol. 193)
The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance, Tony Schwartz (English Edition)