Insights / Management / This Nonprofit is Working Worldwide to Create Healthier, Happier Restaurants
This Nonprofit is Working Worldwide to Create Healthier, Happier Restaurants

Tim Etherington-Judge is on a mission to build a healthier, happier hospitality industry. In 2017,  after personally facing a severe mental health breakdown, Etherington-Judge founded Healthy Hospo, a nonprofit that provides health-focused education and consultation to restaurant employers and their staff.

“The seed for Healthy Hospo started November 9, 2016, after many years of working as a brand ambassador for a big liquor company and traveling the world educating people about whiskey,” says Etherington-Judge, who shared that on that day six years ago, he attempted to take his life in a hotel in Athens. 

“Coming through that experience, I decided to talk very publicly about my mental health but also the way that the hospitality industry treats people,” he says. “I got a lot of messages of love and support and people opening up to me about their personal experiences within the industry that left me wanting to do something to change this ridiculous narrative that we’re all rockstars and can drink as much as we want and sleep when we’re dead.”

Today, Etherington-Judge and his team deliver classes and virtual training sessions on topics like sleep, nutrition, exercise, mental health, financial health, and human connection. The goal is to take a preventative approach across a wide spectrum of health challenges industry workers face.

“If we can help people get slightly better sleep, teach them to cook healthier meals at home, help them manage anxiety and stress, and learn about the importance of connection with family and self, they’re less likely to attract burnout and mental health problems, and also to leave the industry,” says Etherington-Judge. “There are lots of fantastic organizations out there to catch you if you fall off the cliff, but Healthy Hospo is trying to stop people from falling off in the first place – both aspects are needed and compliment each other.

Healthy Hospo offers a digital library of courses, ranging in price from free to roughly $17. Introductory and foundation courses are led by Healthy Hospo team members. Expert-level courses are led by outside specialists.

“We look for people that have either worked in hospitality before so they understand the nuances, or we work with people that can bring something unique,” says Etherington-Judge. 

As an example, Etherington-Judge says he spoke with many sleep coaches before finding Nick Littlehales. Littlehales was chosen because of his experience in working with elite athletes who have extremely inconsistent schedules, matching the typical nature of the hospitality industry.

That specific tailoring to the hospitality industry is exactly what Sofia Gassne, head of human resources for steakhouse chain Hawksmoor, says stood out to her most in working with Healthy Hospo. Hawksmoor hired the organization to lead staff trainings on sleep, mental health, and nutrition.

“Many other providers offer support that [is] surrounded by 9-to-5 hours and the training would often not be tenable for people with such variable hours and importantly the inconsistency that comes with the job,” says Gassne. 

Healthy Hospo also leads in-person workshops and offers consulting services, advising restaurants and other hospitality businesses on how to create better working environments. The process typically starts with a diagnostic assessment of the business, which includes a survey for all employees and interviews with select staff members. Based on the findings, Healthy Hospo builds a coaching plan, along with scheduled follow-up periods to check in after trainings are complete.

“All over the world, we’re seeing the industry have an enormous staffing crisis. People didn’t want to go back to that old job where they felt bad all the time and weren’t treated well,” says Etherington-Judge. “If we’re going to solve this, it’s not just a case of raising wages, but we have to fundamentally address the issues of the industry to build more resilient businesses with better retention.”

While Healthy Hospo is based out of the U.K., Etherington-Judge wants to create a reach that spreads worldwide. Currently, virtual training sessions are offered globally, and consulting is offered on a case-by-case basis. The nonprofit is also building a digital app for accessing virtual lessons and video content. 

“I spent my entire career experiencing hospitality all over the world, so for me it’s very important to provide our services globally because the industry experiences many of the same challenges across the world,” says Etherington-Judge. “The goal is really to help as many hospitality businesses and professionals as possible improve their health and well-being.”

Grace Dickinson is a reporter at Back of House. Send tips or inquiries to grace@backofhouse.io.

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