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How Hospitality Can Limit Employee Burnout

From improving communication between staff and management to letting employees pick their own work schedules instead of assigning them hours, here are three ways hospitality businesses can lessen and even prevent burnout.
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As we enter 2022, many workplaces are struggling against ongoing stress and burnout right now. In a 2021 survey by The Hartford, 61% of employees reported that they felt burnt out at work.

The hospitality industry has long been known for its high burnout rate, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this problem. Over the last two years, hospitality workers have dealt with everything from unpredictable hours and lockdowns to worker shortages and a surge in rude customers.

In Axonify’s State of the Frontline Work Experience 2021 report, 45% of frontline workers plan to leave their current job, and 57.8% said their decision to leave was due to burnout. With more than 900,000 hospitality employees quitting their jobs in November 2021 alone, businesses need to commit to tackle burnout head-on this year, or risk even further turnover.

But employers first need to be able to identify burnout. Warning signs that employees may be chronically stressed, include:

  • Exhaustion
  • Lack of motivation
  • Lack of productivity
  • Absenteeism
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Disillusionment or cynicism about work

Here are three ways hospitality organizations can prevent and lessen burnout among workers in 2022.

1.         Up your team communication game

Unclear job expectations, overwork (or underwork) and workplace dysfunction can all be sources of stress that can contribute to employee burnout. So having good, two-way communication with your employees is key.

Ask them: What is and isn’t working in their job? What would they like to do more of or less of? What are their biggest stressors? What changes would they make? You not only will receive helpful and surprising ideas for business improvements, 74% of employees report that they are more effective in their jobs when they feel heard at work.

Similarly, employees want to understand what’s going on at their company. Are new policy changes being instituted? Has there been a change in leadership or the business is trying out a new technology?

Managers should aim to over-communicate to employees, especially about change, and there is a real opportunity to do better in shift-based industries like hospitality. In the State of the Frontline Work Experience report, only 71.3% of full-time frontline workers felt they were well-informed about changes affecting them, and that number dropped to only 54% for part-time workers.

Managers should also talk to employees about issues like mental health and burnout. Whether that’s sharing resources or just offering support, a business that puts its employees’ wellbeing first will not only instill more employee loyalty, it’s good for your bottom line. Employees with high wellbeing not only have more job satisfaction, both individual and team productivity increase significantly.

2.         Rethink employee scheduling

Shift-based industries, like hospitality, are often known for unstable and unpredictable work schedules, which can be a high source of stress for employees and contribute to burnout. In a survey by Joblist, 38% of former hospitality workers aren’t interested in returning to the industry because of inflexible schedules and long hours.

While it might seem daunting, there are actually several things businesses can do to shake up their scheduling and make it more employee-friendly. A few options are:

  •  Let employees pick their own shifts, rather than assigning them. This model, known as flexible scheduling, gives employees more control of their work life and to choose the shifts that work best for them.
  • Give workers significant advanced notice of their shifts. Using “just-in-time” scheduling – where employees only learn their work schedule a few days’ ahead of time – makes employees’ lives and income volatile. Aim to have employees know when they’ll be working with one- or two-weeks’ notice.
  • Cut back on overtime. If employees are regularly working overtime shifts, that indicates a problem in schedule planning. Not only does increased overtime result in higher labor costs, employees can quickly become overworked. Rethink shifts to match them to customer demand, and aim to make overtime the exception rather than the rule.


3.         Offer on-demand pay

Finances are an incredible source of stress for U.S. workers, and nearly a third of people run out of money before their next payday. This stress to make ends meet can affect employees’ health, make them less productive at work and can contribute to burnout.

One solution is to rethink how businesses pay their employees. Rather than a paycheck every two weeks or month, offer an on-demand pay option, which allows employees to access the money they’ve earned instantly when they need it.

Not only that, but employees are actually looking for this paycheck flexibility. In an EY study of workers in the U.S. and U.K., 80% of people indicated they would use a form of on-demand pay to help with everything from budgeting to unexpected emergencies.

As we enter 2022, it’s a great time for business leaders to begin a renewed focus on the needs of their shift workers and find solutions to prevent burnout. With the Great Resignation resulting in high turnover and vacancies across the board, employee wellbeing – and its strong connections to business operations – is something that employers can’t afford to ignore.



Martin Hartshorne is the Chief Executive Officer of When I Work, a market leader in hourly workforce management that provides a fully integrated scheduling, time tracking, and team messaging solution to more than 200,000 workplaces.



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