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Research: 52% of Food Service and Hospitality Workers Left Their Job in 2020-21 Due to Burnout

Additionally, 56% of food service and hospitality workers left without another job lined up.
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Today Limeade, an immersive well-being company, released findings from the company's study, "The Great Resignation Update." In the latest addition to the Limeade employee care research series, Limeade identified the drivers that led to the mass exodus of employees in late 2020 and early 2021 and how companies can improve their efforts to retain top talent through care.

Many employees stayed in their roles throughout 2020 even if they weren't satisfied — as underscored by the 6 million fewer resignations in 2020 than in 2019. In contrast, 19 million workers quit their jobs between March 2021 and July 2021 (a surplus of 7 million compared to the same time last year). "The Great Resignation Update," surveyed 1,000 full-time U.S. workers who started a new job in 2021. These employees work at companies with 500 or more employees and have been at their new organization for at least three months. 

Respondents cited burnout, lack of flexibility and not feeling valued as top resignation drivers — indicating a lack of care and a desire for greater well-being. Key findings include:

  • Departing out of desperation: 28% of employees left their jobs without another job lined up, these respondents were also 1.7x more likely to cite burnout as their reason for resigning. This jumps to 56% for food service and hospitality workers.
  • Burnout driving resignations: The top reasons for employee departure include burnout (40% overall but for hospitality/food service workers this jumps to 52%), organizational changes at the company (34%) as well as lack of flexibility, instances or discrimination, and contributions and ideas not being valued (all tied at 20%)
  • Employees prioritizing benefits and well-being: Additionally, 19% of employees left due to insufficient benefits and 16% left because their well-being was not supported by the company

When searching for greener pastures, respondents cited ability to work remotely, better compensation and more employee care as top criteria for new roles.

  • Flexibility is key: Job-changers were attracted to their new position due to the ability to work remotely (40%), better compensation (37% which jumps to 41% for food service and hospitality employees), and better management (31%)
  • Compensation: 29% of job changers — the largest single category of respondents — received a 10-19% salary increase. 13% took a pay cut for their new position and 23% indicated they are paid the same amount, indicating better compensation isn't an absolute requirement for job changers
  • Better employee care: Respondents reported a 22% boost in feeling cared for as a person by their new employer
  • What's the same: Only 9% of total respondents saw a decrease in the number of hours they're currently working, indicating the number of hours an employee works isn't necessarily a determining factor for burnout

"The mass exodus workplaces have experienced over the past several months is unprecedented — burnout levels reached an all-time high. There was a societal breakdown when it came to the ecosystem of work, home and well-being. People reached their limits," said Dr. Laura Hamill, Limeade Chief Science Advisor. "At Limeade, our mission is to improve well-being in the world. Because of this we knew it was important to examine this event and ask the Great Resignation job-changers what happened, what they experienced and how employers can do better."

The Limeade Institute recognizes "care" as looking after and providing for the needs of someone or something. To better support employees — particularly in times of crisis or heightened mental health pressures — it is vital for employers to bring employee feedback into the fold. When employers utilize anonymized pulse surveys, organizations can gather employee feedback, transparently share findings and take action. By asking employees for their input, employers can create more intentional employee experiences that are centered around care — and better empower employees to prioritize their overall well-being.

"We have to do better. We have to take care of ourselves and others — and that means caring more for employees. Listen to employees. Ask them what they need," said Hamill. "Do they need more flexibility? More autonomy? More trust? The Great Resignation is a great opportunity for employers to evolve, learn and do better. The companies that learn and grow from this feedback will succeed."

"The Great Resignation Update," is part of the Limeade employee care research series, which focuses on the link between organizational care and employee well-being. To see a full copy of the "Limeade Employee Care Report: The Great Resignation Update" and learn more about how Limeade can help your organization improve employee well-being visit:

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