How to Spot Signs of Burnout in Restaurant Staff

In the restaurant and hospitality industry, the competition for labor is intense, and losing good employees could cost you big.

In a study with Kronos, Fortune Magazine found that 46% of companies attribute between 20% and 50% of workforce churn to employee burnout.

Is your staff stressed? You could be missing important signs! Below, read our best tips for identifying burnout in staff and how to correct it.

Are your employees…  

  • Exhausted? In the hospitality industry, it’s common for long shifts and rush periods to take their toll on employees. Remember that your staff - particularly front-of-house - always has to be “on” in order to build rapport with customers and keep them happy (and thus coming back). For this reason, hospitality can see burnout manifest itself in the form of exhaustion. Pay attention to how your employees are being assigned to shifts, and see if there’s a smarter way for them to be scheduled. For example, smart digital scheduling tools can help identify if an employee has been scheduled for a morning shift when they worked the night before (a new law will ban this from happening in NYC in November 2017 - see our writeup here). Be on the lookout for signs of exhaustion, such as drastic change in appearance like undereye circles, dull complexion, and a general look of neglect (especially if you know this person normally presents themselves in the best possible manner). 


  • Disengaged? The hospitality industry centers around engaging with people. So when a staff member becomes distant and withdrawn, it can be alarming. Furthermore, how your staff communicates your brand to customers can make or break a business. If your employee seems detached from their position, talk to them about what’s going on. Maybe they’re working long hours or feel they’ve outgrown their role and are ready for new challenges and opportunities. In that case, you will be able to put a plan together to move forward - perhaps they’d like to take additional classes to hone their skills. No matter what, stay tuned in to your team. Harri helps employers do this with TeamLive, which allows for seamless group or one-on-one communication with hospitality teams. Something as simple as surveying employees with quick questions about how their shift went upon clocking out, or making them feel involved through special announcements, can work wonders.


  • Noticeably Absent? Employees who are burnt out may show symptoms that manifest physically, such as weakened immune system, or emotional and mental distress, prompting them to need time off. A weakened immune system due to stress, being unfocused, or demotivation can lead to accidents in the workplace if left unaddressed. This is especially dangerous in the hospitality industry. Get to the root of the problem, and remember that things tend to trickle down - if a higher up staff member is experiencing negative emotions, it affects the team, which makes it even more crucial to solve.  


  • More Sensitive than Usual? When things are rough, employees who are more susceptible to take criticism personally are more likely to make mountains out of molehills. It’s important to know your employees personally, or have a manager who does, in order to detect sudden shifts in behavior.


  •  Expressing Negative Thoughts? Frequently voicing self-defeating thoughts like, “I’m not good at anything” are huge red flags that your employees might be burnt out. Be sure to give employees attention and support in order to figure out if it’s burnout, or a self-confidence issue.