The past 18 months have been incredibly challenging for the American restaurant industry. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many restaurant businesses to close their doors back in March 2020 (some of whom closed their doors forever). Businesses limped along, adapting their services to include take-out and delivery – only to be met with a wave of employee resignations as states reopened.
According to Business Insider, a whopping 5.6% of restaurant workers quit their jobs in April 2021. This points to dissatisfaction across the industry, and it will undoubtedly hamstring many businesses as they try to return to pre-COVID operating levels.
But why are these workers saying goodbye to the foodservice industry? Here are a few possible answers.
They Want Safer Conditions
Across the country, restaurant workers are standing up against unsafe working conditions in the wake of the pandemic. Many businesses are champing at the bit to return to capacity and resume business as usual, but for waiters, cooks, and other staff who work in close contact with each other and the public, this can be potentially dangerous.
Today’s restaurant workers know the risk their job poses to their health, and many of them aren’t interested in taking the risk of being exposed to the virus for serving a guest their meal.
They Need Better Wages
If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that the lowest-paid workers in our society are actually the most essential. This includes restaurant workers, some of whom continued working even as cases and deaths rose nationwide.
We’ve acknowledged the vital role restaurant workers played through the pandemic – and now, they want to be paid accordingly. Like fast-food eatery Chipotle, some companies are rising to the challenge and raising wages, but companies that refuse are facing labor shortages as workers say goodbye.
They Aren’t Getting Support
At their heart, both the issues listed above are about the same thing: giving workers better support. Restaurant workers – like all employees – are trying to earn a living with dignity. When they don’t feel supported by their managers or company owners, they’re likely to leave as soon as they can.
If you want to hang on to your team, the best thing you can do is give them the support they need to feel comfortable at your restaurant. Take safety precautions to keep them healthy and safe at work. Allow flexibility for sick time if necessary. And give your team the proper training to help them feel like they’re truly an indispensable part of your staff.
When your team feels supported, respected, and valued, they’re much more likely to stick around – and your staff, your customers, and your business will all be better for it.