Hospitality businesses advised to prepare employees for violence and abuse

New research from insurer NFU Mutual has found that nearly half of consumers (47%) have witnessed some form of abuse towards hospitality staff in pubs, restaurants, takeaways and hotels in the past three years. The abuse ranged from customers belittling staff to being patronising, cursing and shouting, to physical attacks upon employees. 

A rise in violent attacks upon staff published by The British Retail Consortium’s latest Retail Crime Survey has led the insurer to explore the impact of violence and abuse upon different types of customer-facing businesses that it insures. The research also found that 87% of consumers expect hospitality staff to have the necessary training to effectively manage a verbally or physically abusive customer. Despite this, nearly half (45%) of the customer-facing businesses surveyed said they don’t actively take any measures to protect their staff. 

Darren Seward, hospitality specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “It’s the responsibility of the management to keep people safe and although insurance can provide cover against legal action, the best option is always preparation. Often fuelled by alcohol use, property damage and damage to security systems is also a common issue of violence in hospitality premises, which can be limited by following certain precautions.” 

Harry Key, training and international development manager for CiC, who provide psychological services on behalf of Hospitality Action, said he wasn’t surprised by the figures. “The hospitality sector, and indeed any customer-facing environment, is so unpredictable and stressful but there are training products available to help equip employers and staff to deal with these kinds of unpleasant situations. 

“Hospitality Action offers stress and resilience training, and we also work with providers of physical safety and security training. A lot of that is about being able to recognise situations where you are going to be in an abusive environment and being aware of your surroundings. Strengthening your psychological resolve can also help you feel more empowered to walk away and more prepared to cope in the time following such experiences.” 

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