Catersource is part of the Informa Connect Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Mental Health and ROI

Growing up, my parents always told me there were two things we should never talk about: religion and politics. The funny thing is these two topics were still brought up a lot.

The one thing we never mentioned or spoke about, however, was Mental Health. Now, please note: we usually do not capitalize those two words, but I think we should start.

Let’s take a trip back to 2018, specifically June 8, 2018. If you do not remember that date, that is the day Chef Anthony Bourdain committed suicide. Later that same year, the American Culinary Federation was having their convention, and they turned the spotlight on Mental Health. That day the conversation started.

During that convention, a chef that I had just met broke down across the table from me. At first, I thought it was about Bourdain. He then made it very clear why he was so bereft. He looked directly into my eyes and said, “I tried to kill myself, and this wonderful woman beside me, my wife, saved my life!” If that doesn’t grab your attention, I have no idea what will. I grabbed the microphone and said it is about time we turned a spotlight on the pink elephant in the room.

My name is Jeffrey Schlissel, and at 18 years old, I tried to kill myself. From that moment on, I have not stopped talking about it, nor will I ever. I have done several presentations on Mental Health, and they generally focus on telling stories. I feel that storytelling is a way to let others know they are not alone, like how alone I felt at 18. My presentations have morphed into this storytelling, while touching on a specific “why.” That “why” is why you should care—and it is not just about being human; it’s more than that. It’s also about ROI for your business.

What is one of the biggest headaches in our industry right now? If you said COGS (cost of goods sold), you are probably correct, but not for this story. This is a people story. Right now, we cannot find people to work, yes or no? You tried everything to hire a great candidate or a “body.” What if you asked your staff, “How is your Mental Health today?” Can you talk about that subject? How would they feel?

How many of you put the Federal Labor Posters up in your kitchen? (All of you, I hope.) Why not also post places or resources online regarding Mental Health? If you are not talking about Mental Health, you are missing out on huge ROI.

Think about the impact that you can have on your team. They see that you care about them, and they will buy in. It is the simplest form of paying it forward. We can’t afford insurance for all our staff members, but what about collaborating with a therapist to do group therapy or talk sessions? What about offering to pay for oneon-one sessions for your staff? There are other resources online that can help as well.

The bottom line is that your bottom line is affected by churn. Highly stressed team members lose their passion and drive. If you are open seven days a week, maybe consider looking into closing one day. Think about giving your staff a consistent Mental Health day. We have that old saying, “happy wife, happy life.” Happy employees perform better and will also treat your investment like their own. Think about how word might get out about how you manage and lead your team with empathy. You may just have too many job applicants with no openings. How magical would that be?

Jeffrey Schlissel

Chef/Dishwasher, The Bacon Cartel

Chef Jeffrey Schlissel, known as Cheffrey to some, is now known for being the Kingpin of the Bacon Cartel. The Kingpin has been in the culinary field for over 30 years. What started as a simple thing to do with his mother became a lifelong career. The Kingpin has extensive knowledge of cooking all types of cuisines. Still, he finds that he truly enjoys creating dishes that combine Pan Asian Floribbean flair, or as he calls it, Floribbeanasian. He likes to use locally sourced and sustainable products in his dishes. Most recently, he has been experimenting...