30 March 2023

Social Support Can Boost Wellbeing of Service Sector Employees

As simple as the word "social support" might sound, the meaning it carries today is deep, especially for people working in the service sector. The service sector employees are tired, burned out, and going through grave mental crises. Long shifts, low pay, and difficult-to-manage work routines take a psychological, emotional, and physical toll on employees. 


Whether they are waiters, nurses, tour guides, or in housekeeping, service sector workers serve the majority of our needs. As per statistics, the service sector accounts for at least 55.43 percent of the average GDP in some 168 countries in 2021. In other words, it also implies that people are keen on finding career opportunities in the service sector.


We have often stressed how burned-out employees are in today's chaotic world: War, inflation, out of the ordinary viruses, and the hot topic of identity crisis in the West. It is only normal to feel overwhelmed with all that is ongoing, and it can impact one's mind. 


Emotional dissonance root cause of depression among service sector workers:


Studies have shown that service sector employees are prone to emotional dissonance, so much so that it has become a root cause of depression. It lowers wellbeing and leads to health-related issues, job stress, and even suicidal thoughts. 


So what is emotional dissonance exactly? It is when our actual emotions clash with what we display. As per NIH, National Library of Medicine, considering workplace environment, "emotional dissonance is the conflict between experienced emotions and emotions expressed to conform to display rules."


The service industry is all about emotional labor. An employee is required to act or express themselves as per the demands of their profession. The emotional toll of pretending can cause long-term health issues. When you do not feel what you show to people, stress and anxiety kick in, leading to long-term health problems.


How can social support contribute to the wellbeing of service sector workers?


To be loved, to be in the company of near and dears, and to have that "all is well" feeling contribute immensely to preventing emotional distress. A study has found that service sector employees are more susceptible to mental health issues than employees in any other field.


Social support is one of the pillars of wellbeing. An article featured on McKinsey states that having family and close friends who you can count on positively impacts one's health and wellbeing.


A review noted that the mortality rate was higher in “people who were less socially integrated” and “people with low levels of social support.” Well, that is something a wellbeing program can help offset when more and more people have become isolated in today’s busy world, struggling to find time for their families. 


The American Journal of Epidemiology found that service workers relying on tips were at greater risk for depression, sleep disorders, and anxiety than employees working in non-tipped jobs. This is because lower pay, lack of job control, and insufficient employee benefits, extremely common in the service industry, keep one constantly worried. 


Wellbeing programs are needed more than ever!


But as they say, "every cloud has a silver lining," and these examples make us realize even more the importance of employee wellness programs. It makes it critical to incorporate employee wellbeing into company strategies and policies. Why? We'll explain.


Organizations with practical and effective wellbeing programs report significantly lower employee turnover


In a report taking into account some 15 countries, McKinsey outlines that employees with high adaptability are 60 percent more likely to leave their organization in case of high levels of toxic behavior at work. An unhealthy workplace environment had a massive impact on employees who showed intent to leave the organization by a large margin.


This highlights well the need for a systematic approach to prevent burnout and create a positive work environment to retain employees.


In addition, wellbeing programs can save companies millions of dollars they spend on covering the health expenses of their employees. 


Wellbeing programs offer the social support that one might be missing in life. Activities with colleagues, expert help, inspiring excerpts, and "self-help" articles help release a lot of negativity from one's life. As a result, your company can benefit multifacetedly: Low employee turnover, happier employees, increased productivity, and higher profits.

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