“Bridging the Gap: How Susanna Sjöberg’s Expertise is Redefining Mental Wellness in the Hospitality Sector” TSHS-0067

“Bridging the Gap: How Susanna Sjöberg’s Expertise is Redefining Mental Wellness in the Hospitality Sector” TSHS-0067

To the listener and reader: What are your top three pain points in dealing with Mental Wellness challenges in your organization? Please write in the comments.

Introduction: In the fast-paced world of hospitality, where customer service is at the forefront, the well-being of employees often takes a back seat. However, in the current era of uncertainty and global challenges, the mental health of hospitality workers is gaining much-needed attention. In this episode of the Social Hotelier podcast, host Sam-Erik Ruttmann delves into the crucial topic of employee well-being with expert advice from Susanna Sjöberg. As a registered mental health professional and the founder of Innerwork CH, Susanna brings a unique perspective that combines her background in business with a passion for workplace mental wellness.

Understanding the Importance of Employee Well-Being:

Sam-Erik sets the stage by emphasizing the significance of employee well-being in the hospitality industry. He highlights the visible impact that employees’ mental states can have on the overall atmosphere of a hotel or service-oriented business. Whether it’s the warm and welcoming vibe of a well-functioning team or the avoidance of eye contact indicating distress, employee well-being plays a pivotal role in shaping the customer experience.

Introducing Susanna Sjöberg:

The podcast introduces Susanna Sjöberg as a seasoned professional in the field of workplace mental wellness. Susanna, based in Geneva, Switzerland, founded Innerwork CH after gaining diverse experiences and insights while working for large organizations and the International Labor Organization. Her expertise spans workplace mental wellness, psychological safety, and health. As Sam-Erik expresses the importance of the episode, Susanna shares her journey, highlighting her passion for workplace well-being that began early in her career.

Defining Mental Health and Dispelling Stigmas:

Susanna clarifies that when discussing mental health, it’s essential to recognize the spectrum it operates on. Rather than focusing solely on mental illness, the conversation extends to mental well-being, analogous to physical health. She acknowledges the challenges of addressing mental health in the hospitality industry, where there is often a reluctance to discuss these issues due to stigma.

 Our mutual friend Carin-Isabel Knoop wrote this timely blog on how to pay attention to the hospitality workers who provide a wonderful experience while we enjoy our holiday.

¨ If we vacation to heal our wounds and wound hospitality workers in return, we do nothing net-positive for the world. So, how do we ensure that we don’t care for ourselves at the expense of others?¨  Here is the link to her blog https://carinisabelknoop.medium.com/of-hotel-towels-elephants-mental-health-and-tourism-a907664d477c

The Global Challenge of Mental Health:

Sam-Erik and Susanna delve into the staggering global impact of mental health issues. Citing statistics from the World Health Organization, Susanna reveals that over 50% of people are experiencing mental health challenges, costing the global economy between one and six trillion US dollars annually. Stress-related work issues alone contribute to over 120,000 deaths per year in the United States.

Examining Workplace Well-Being Programs:

Susanna critiques the current landscape of workplace well-being programs, citing a recent study from the University of Oxford that showed minimal positive impact on employees. She emphasizes the need for companies to move beyond ad hoc well-being initiatives and invest in systematic, structured approaches that build sustainable well-being systems.


Exemplary Companies and Their Well-Being Initiatives:

We explore examples of companies that excel in implementing effective well-being programs. Susanna mentions Pan Pacific in London, highlighting their innovative four-day work weeks and focus on flexibility. Susanna adds TUI to the list, commending their ¨We Care¨ambassador program initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating the positive impact of peer support.

Addressing Mental Health in Changing Work Environments:

The conversation shifts towards adapting to changing expectations, particularly those of the younger generation. Susanna notes that younger employees seek meaningful work, flexibility, and a balanced work-life dynamic. She commends organizations like Hilton, which adopts a holistic approach with its “Care for All” program, addressing self-care, team care, and care for loved ones.

The Role of Middle Management:

Discussing the implementation of well-being programs, Susanna emphasizes the crucial role of top leadership and middle management. CEOs must champion these initiatives, while middle managers require training to effectively support their teams. Susanna stresses the importance of a structured approach that involves systematic training for middle managers.

Navigating Employee Expectations and Recruitment:

Sam-Erik and Susanna explore the changing expectations of the younger workforce and how companies can adapt to attract and retain talent. Susanna advises companies to focus on:

  • meaningful work,
  • value alignment,
  • fostering connections among employees.

She underscores the importance of honesty in recruitment to avoid mismatched expectations.


Practical Strategies for Combating Loneliness:

Susanna provides practical strategies for combating loneliness, a common challenge in the hospitality industry due to irregular working hours. She stresses the importance of connection as a biological need, suggesting regular touchpoints, encouraging social interaction, and raising awareness about the issue.


I must extend my appreciation to Susanna for sharing her invaluable insights on mental wellness in the hospitality industry.

Susanna’s expertise shines through as she emphasizes the need for a cultural shift, where companies prioritize structured well-being systems and employees take responsibility for their mental health.

To the listener and reader: What are your top three pain points in dealing with Mental Wellness challenges in your organization? Please write in the comments.