Hospitality Insurance Insights: Managing Restaurant Burnout

Many workers experience job-related stress, especially those that work in environments with distractions—such as in a busy restaurant.

Working in a restaurant can expose you and your staff to demanding customers, loud noises and long shifts—which can be a lot to handle. If you don’t take steps to counteract the chaos, these stressors can lead to burnout, health problems, injuries and even job failure.

Chronic Stress Triggers

Though everyone is different, there are universal triggers that may create stress for restaurant workers:

  • Having little control over your work, such as dealing with demanding customers
  • Busy shifts, often late at night, and standing for long hours
  • Environmental stressors such as large crowds and loud noises
  • Constantly having to please customers

As these stress triggers can occur frequently, look out for early symptoms of stress and take steps to relieve it. Be alert for the following symptoms, which can develop into more serious health complications—such as heart problems and depression—if they go unchecked:

  • Insomnia
  • Short temper
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Difficulty concentrating

Ways to Relieve Stress

Though relieving stress may not seem so simple, avoiding burnout may not be as hard as you think. Consider the following stress-reducing recommendations:

  • Recognise stress symptoms, and take action at the first sign of stress
  • Look out for these symptoms in colleagues and tactfully offer support
  • Exercise on a regular basis
  • Follow a healthy diet
  • Get adequate rest
  • Offer conflict resolution training to help you deal with demanding guests
  • Try stress-reduction methods such as yoga or meditation
  • Speak to your manager if you feel your stress is becoming unmanageable

Support your people and they will support your business

Any employee understands that work, especially in a public-facing role, can be difficult but they need to understand that their employer supports them and respects their time.

  • Ensure that when things do go wrong, your organisation views it as a training opportunity and remember that each day is a new day. Once your teammate has learned the lesson, there is no need to continually bring the matter up. Encourage other team mates to respect this also.
  • Protect your worker's dignity by addressing weaknesses privately and never use their simple error as an example to other team members. 
  • Have a written set of rules that your team have access to at all times and that is realistic for how your business operates - not how you wish it operated. Having a common set of agreed principles and standards that your team live by helps everyone feel sure of what is expected of them in their job. 
  • Respect your employee's right to a balanced life. Your staff need to make time for their family and friends when they're not at work and you should set up systems to ensure you have adequate access to teammates who are interested in short-notice additional hours or work with a temporary worker agency who can provide cover in case your business is hit by a run of employee sickness. 

Working for a business where you're regularly called by your employer during time off because someone else has called in sick or you need information from them, intrudes on that teammate's private life. This intrusion means they are not getting the opportunity to switch off from work and enjoy time with their loved ones (or on their own - which can be equally important). This feeling of "always being at work" leads directly to burnout.

  • Provide a sense of progress and momentum to your employees by offering opportunities to learn new areas of the business or shadow more senior team members. This builds job satisfaction by showing younger teammates that hospitality is a rich and rewarding career option with plenty of opportunities to create a satisfying and rewarding life.

Front-of-house staff understanding the pressures and frustrations of your kitchen team or back-office staff (and vice versa) can create unexpected efficiencies and opportunities for improvements as well as empathy between workmates.

It might also help your business cover temporary gaps in departments if your team are less 'siloed' into their various departments without any understanding of each other's work. 

  • If you spot a valued team member struggling with stress it might be a smarter move to offer them some additional paid time away from the business rather than losing that team member permanently and having to recruit and train a new team member. 

Workplace stress affects everyone, from senior managers to new entrant trainees and as a business owner, it is your responsibility to look out for your full team and support them in coping with stress. However, the above advice also applies to you as a business owner - remember to deal with your own stress and not put yourself under more pressure to solve temporary problems in your organisation by always throwing yourself into the fray.

Your teammates take many of their behavioural cues from the leadership team, so put systems and processes in place to ensure you can take time away for yourself and come back to a smoothly running operation. 

Our risk management specialists have a host of training and procedural support documents they can share with you to help your hospitality business. We've worked with some of the biggest hospitality businesses in Northern Ireland and have a wealth of experience in all types of companies from hotel and accommodation businesses to bars, restaurants, food trucks and pop-up events! 

Get in touch today...