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Happier, Healthier Hospitality

Tim Etherington-Judge is a man on a mission; a mission to improve the holistic health of hospitality workers. Tim knows better than most about the toll that night work, long hours, poor diet and a lack of exercise can take on a bartender. After all, he was one himself before starting his not-for-profit project, Healthy Hospo. Barfly spoke with Tim recently to find out the key health concerns bartenders should take note of in their line of work, what small steps they can implement to start feeling healthier and how their employers can help in this process too.

You’ve were in the industry previously working as a global ambassador for many years and now set up Healthy Hospo – what inspired you to start this platform?

After seven years living the vagabond life as a global ambassador, the seemingly endless jetlag, hotels, airports, loneliness, unhealthy restaurant food, and lack of exercise and sleep took their toll. 

I had a massive breakdown at the Athens Bar Show in 2016 and never went back to work. I took the decision to speak openly and publicly about my breakdown, recovery, and mental health illness, and found - to my surprise - that hundreds of people wrote to me with their stories of struggles and health difficulties. It was during this time of speaking publicly that I realised that my personal suffering could be put to good use, and I could create a platform to help others avoid the struggles that I went through. Thus, Healthy Hospo was born. 

Healthy Hospo is a not-for-profit company aimed at improving the health, happiness and sustainability of workers within the hospitality industry.

Who do you collaborate with for Healthy Hospo and what do you educate bartenders on predominately?

We collaborate with anyone who shares our goal of a healthier, happier, and more sustainable industry. So far, we’ve worked with liquor companies, juice brands, kombucha start-ups, brand agencies, coffee producers, independent bars and individual bartenders.

We take a holistic view towards education, covering a large variety of topics to embrace the diversity of interests within the industry. We have five key pillars which all of our work falls under: Nutrition, Exercise, Community, Wellness and Mental Health. Everyone should be able to find something that works for them. Not everyone is going to eat a plant-based diet or run a marathon, but they might be interested in improving their sleep or trying ‘hygge’ (situating oneself in the moment),  so we keep it as broad as possible.

What are some of the common health issues you see associated with the hospitality industry more than others?

Due to the nature of the industry, there are some very serious health issues that affect the industry and make it imperative that health becomes a key focus for everyone working in, or with, the hospitality sector.

In fact, night time work is now classed as a Class 2A Carcinogen by WHO (the World Health Organisation). A recent study in the US found bartending as the 13th most dangerous job, with bartenders more likely to die at work than police officers!

We work at night and sleep during the day, disrupting circadian rhythms, leading to awful sleep patterns, which has been linked to increased mortality, obesity, mental health illness and chronic disease. 

Ironically, the industry may deal with food, but hospitality workers eat poor nutritionally, partly due to living outside of traditional restaurant hours. We are fairly physically active due to the demands of the job, but I don’t know a single bartender or chef that doesn’t struggle with back problems.

The industry has somewhat had that ‘leave your problems at the door before shift’ type attitude; do you feel the industry is open or transparent about the issues surrounding health and wellbeing?

The response I’ve seen to Healthy Hospo has shown that the industry is not only willing but also keen to improve the health and wellness of its workers. Individual workers have shown huge interest, and I believe there’s a responsibility of businesses to do more to look after the health and wellness of bartenders, chefs, waiters etc. 

What are some preliminary steps bartenders can make if they’re starting to feel burdened by the daily grind?

It’s about everyday improvement, rather than giant leaps. 

  • Focus on sleep – kick your phone out of the bedroom, make sleep a priority and turn your bedroom into a temple.
  • Eat more vegetables – this is one of the easiest steps to better health.
  • Community – do things outside of the industry that you love. Spend your days off doing these activities instead of drinking in bars. 

What are some on the instant benefits from implementing these steps? 

More energy, less fatigue, increased productivity and a greater enjoyment of life.

If an employer suspects their employee is having trouble, what can they do to help?

The first step is for the employer to ensure that they cultivate a work environment that makes their employees comfortable in discussing health issues. Health and wellness is a complex, holistic subject and each individual will have different needs. I’d suggest starting the conversation, being understanding to the problem and working with the employee to find a solution together.

We’re happy to work with any business owner to help them build a healthier workplace.

Is Healthy Hospo setting up communities elsewhere around the globe?

Yes. While I’m based in London, Healthy Hospo is very much a global mission. We’ve had interest and requests for workshops and seminars from all over the world. All our digital work is accessible to anyone with an internet connection, so I’d say that we’re already building a global community.

What is your ultimate goal for Healthy Hospo long term?

The ultimate goal is to help build a healthier and happier hospitality industry, and allow people to thrive and develop long and successful careers.

W. www.healthyhospo.com
E. tim@healthyhospo.com