May 14

Proactively Preventing Employee Burnout in Restaurants


Here’s How Restaurant Managers Can Mitigate Burnout Among Employees

In the fast-paced and often chaotic restaurant world, employee burnout is a common challenge that every manager should recognize and address—especially as we gear up for the busy season. 

Unchecked exhaustion has many negative consequences, including those that affect the individual and can seep into every other part of your business. As they say, one rotten apple can spoil the whole barrel.

There are some significant ways you can show up for your team as a leader and make proactive choices to address and mitigate burnout. Investing time and energy into your staff’s happiness and wellness at work is worth the effort—so let’s break it down.

How to Identify Burnout Among Your Team

As a team leader, creating a supportive work environment is essential. One way to do that is to be present on the floor and note your employees’ behavior, attitude, productivity, and general team morale. 

Focus on your team and look for common signs, including: 

  • Frequent calls outs or tardiness
  • Decrease in quality of work
  • Significant behavioral changes
  • Lack of engagement 

While this isn’t an exhaustive list, these are common and likely the first signs an employee may be experiencing burnout.

If you notice any of these changes in an employee, schedule a one-on-one meeting to determine whether a course correction plan is necessary or if you can better support this employee’s success in some other way. 

Actions to Mitigate Burnout Among Employees

Restaurant employees burn out because their work is physically demanding, with extended hours and little recognition. While a few days off and a raise are nice, they don’t necessarily cure burnout when the day-to-day is still draining. 

To help combat burnout, employers need to make fundamental efforts in their employee management styles to ensure their teams feel supported in career growth and mental and physical health. 

Here are some areas in which employers can start taking action to mitigate burnout among their teams: 

  1. Creating a Supportive Work Culture:
    Supporting your team in their overall success is a significant step to mitigating burnout. Cultivating a supportive work culture starts by building trust and open communication with your team. 

    As mentioned earlier, meetings are a great way to start. Still, leaders should try to celebrate successes and develop communication techniques to offer effective feedback when guiding employees to success. 
  2. Manage Scheduling to Emphasize Work/Life Balance:
    Ensuring ongoing work-life balance is essential in the hospitality industry. All too often, employers negligently overwork their employees to save time on scheduling or money on labor—which, given the negative impacts of exhaustion, only hurts them further. 

    Investing in scheduling software or setting guidelines on how much a single employee can work in a given week will allow you to mindfully schedule your employees and ensure everyone gets the rest they need between shifts. 
  3. Provide Ongoing Training and Resources:
    Many workers find career growth exponentially significant. Providing ongoing training and tools to help them develop their careers can increase productivity, engagement, and morale. 

    Additionally, a well-organized training program is essential to influencing a supportive work culture and ensuring new hires have every chance to succeed in their role working for you. 
  4. Consider More Equitable Payment Models:
    While I did say a raise doesn’t necessarily solve burnout—it can go a long way when occurring in tandem with some other foundational employee management practices. 

    Over the last decade, many restaurant employers have been testing new ways to pay their employees to decrease the pay disparities between the FOH and BOH. If your employees must sacrifice work-life balance because they need the hours to make ends meet, it might be time to investigate more creative payment models to offer competitive wages. Some options include pooling tips, raising menu prices to pay more, or adding service fees to raise wages and offer benefits.
  5. Prioritize Employee Wellness:
    You don’t have to invest much money to support your employees’ wellness. It can be as simple as committing to any of the abovementioned steps. You can also research and build awareness around organizations with free tools available for restaurant workers. 

Here are a few to get you started:

If you invest in wellness programs, Employee Assistance Programs have been a successful and chosen avenue for many employers. 

A lot is going on in a restaurant, and managing the place is no easy feat—but don’t let your employee management fall by the wayside. It’s one of the most essential parts of a restaurant business. 

Your team is directly responsible for your business’s success—investing in them should be one of the highest priorities. Knowing how taxing restaurant work can be, making efforts to mitigate burnout can be the key to helping your business grow, reduce turnover, and hopefully save money.  


About the author


Ashley McNally likes to cook, loves to bake, and is always dreaming of her next meal. With over 13 years of experience working in various roles within a restaurant — McNally has made a home in hospitality.


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