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Occupational stress in the chef profession

R. Murray‐Gibbons (Newry and Kilkeel Institute of Further and Higher Education, Newry, UK)
C. Gibbons (School of Psychology, Queens University Belfast, Belfast, UK)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 13 February 2007




The purpose of this paper is to consider the occupational stress experienced by chefs and the moderating influence of coping behaviour and locus of control on stress outcomes.


A total of 40 working chefs were surveyed. They were asked to complete an occupational stress questionnaire, the General Health Questionnaire. Differences were sought between gender and locus of control and stress measures, and correlations were carried out between key variables.


The reported stress was markedly higher than in previous research. Excessive workload, feeling undervalued and communication issues were common and bullying and threats of violence were present for some. Unexpectedly, locus of control was unable to predict stress experiences. Explanations were offered, such as the possibility that those who perceive they have a strong sense of control may believe that this, paradoxically, affords them the opportunity to engage in unhealthy behaviours.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations of the research include the influence of the wider environment, specifically the history of political violence in the province, and its possible effect on stress outcomes. However, this may be negated by the many positive effects peace has brought over the last decade. In drawing conclusions it is important to note the limitations of the sample size and the self‐reporting nature of survey responses. Further research could usefully incorporate well‐being as well as stress measures, including physiological ones. It would be worth exploring further how one's sense of control affects perceptions of stress and, in turn, the coping behaviours engaged in.

Practical implications

Practical implications include the need for managers and head chefs to provide more feedback to employees, to validate their good work and to foster a supportive working environment. Norms in the working environment endorsing aggressive behaviour must be challenged. Staff appraisals should consider the need to have work that involves variety and challenge, especially where changes involve increases in workload.


This paper identifies some important ingredients to reduce distress and it will be of value to chefs and other kitchen staff and, more broadly, to those involved in people management.



Murray‐Gibbons, R. and Gibbons, C. (2007), "Occupational stress in the chef profession", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 32-42.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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