- The restaurant and hospitality industry is particularly affected by the continuing labor shortage.
- Insider spoke to 3 workers about their reasons for quitting their jobs in the food industry this year.
- They said they felt overworked, stressed and more often abused by customers.
Millions of Americans have quit their jobs in recent months, but few fields have seen the level of turnover that is currently plaguing the service sector. In fact, restaurant and hotel workers are quitting their jobs at a rate more than twice the record national average. Low wages and increasingly bad customer behavior are among the reasons cited for departures.
From a recent graduate to a mother of two who worked in the industry for 15 years, Insider told three former restaurant workers why they quit. Here is what they had to say.
The following essays are based on conversations with each topic about their career. They have been edited for length and clarity.
Tom Mangione, 24, Cincinnati, Ohio
I was a shift supervisor at Starbucks for a year before I left in June. In addition to my barista duties, I was a key holder, handling store orders – placing and receiving – and acting as a manager when the store manager was not available. My coworkers and my immediate supervisor were all lovely people, but we didn’t feel supported by the company.
Our hours were reduced when COVID hit, but the store was no less busy. We just had fewer people, which contributed to burnout and a lot of turnover. People who had worked at the company for several years quit, often without notice, and customers complained about things store employees couldn’t change.
We also faced a lot of supply chain issues – we were constantly running out of products, but the company refused to cut the menu to ensure availability. One day my store only had cheese danishes for food; no breakfast sandwiches, no other pastries. The customers were pissed off, but why shouldn’t they be? Starbucks presents itself as a restaurant.
I think low wages, reduced hours, and the expectation that verbal abuse from customers will be tolerated have made restaurant jobs, especially direct customer positions, more difficult than ever. Providing good customer service while trying to work fast enough to meet business goals is getting harder and harder.
Now I work for a smaller franchise and I don’t see the same burnout here because our bosses are rushing to fix the kinds of issues Starbucks has failed to recognize. Most of the people I know who worked full time at Starbucks have moved on to other coffee shop jobs. Since I am happy in my new position, I intend to stay in the coffee business until I graduate with my Masters in Education degree. I hope the current crisis could inspire restaurants and employers to value their workers more in the future, and that’s fantastic.
Editor’s note: In an email to Insider, a Starbucks spokesperson said it was “working quickly and closely with our supply chain vendors to restock the items” that were affected by supply chain shortages, adding that employees “are encouraged to recommend alternative items if a customer’s favorite is out of stock.” The email also highlighted the company’s announcement in October that it will increase salaries for hourly employees who have worked at Starbucks for at least two years, hire more recruiters and trainers, and improve workforce planning.
Dana Gurry, 32, Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania
My entire career has been in the food and beverage industry, from sit-down restaurant work to the bartender. Most recently, I was a store manager at Dairy Queen, where I worked on and off for almost 14 years. Earlier this month, I decided to put my notice down after years of feeling overworked and underpaid.
As manager I was responsible for opening the store which often included a deep cleaning if it had been left messy the day before. Once the store opened, I helped take customer orders and cook in the kitchen in addition to making the schedule for the next week, calculating pay hours, taking inventory so I could place orders for the next week. supplies and decorate cakes.
Over the years, I have seen the restaurant change for the worse. When I started the store was immaculate and every employee was doing their job. Eventually it got to the point where everything was dirty and I was exhausted from trying to do everything while other employees were just hanging out. There were no consequences for those who showed up late or not at all.
I think people in this industry feel overworked, underpaid and mistreated by their employers. It’s also degrading and mentally exhausting dealing with countless rude clients who don’t treat you like a human being. Resigning was an improvised choice due to the severity of the impact of work on my mental health and general well-being.
I am fortunate to be married to a wonderful man who supported me during this time. Personally, I would rather not go back to the industry because I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Restaurants need to offer better wages and incentives for all the hard work their employees do day in and day out.
Editor’s Note: In an email response to Insider, a DQ spokesperson said, âAll DQ restaurants in Pennsylvania are owned by independent franchise owners. All employee relations matters are handled between the franchisee owner and his employees. ”
Kilee Hutchings, 30, Fayetteville, North Carolina
I have spent the past 15 years in restaurants. I was a salaried manager of a well-known chain for over two years before submitting my notice in August. Before the pandemic, we had full-time staff, many of whom had been there for years. Our schedules were rather relaxed: We entered at 4 p.m. and left around 11 p.m.
Business resumed after the initial shutdown, but many of our employees have not returned. People were constantly calling and I begged others to come to work before I even got to the restaurant. Finding new employees proved difficult and guests were less and less understanding when we ran out of ingredients.
I worked longer closing shifts from 3:00 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. which meant I barely saw my two elementary-age children. My husband also works out of town for a few weeks each month, so we were paying over $ 500 a week for a nanny to watch our kids while we worked.
My company was one of the best restaurants to work for in 2020. They looked after us by paying hourly staff during shutdown, giving bonuses to managers and never cutting wages. But the work became more and more stressful and I knew that I was not the wife, the mother and the person I wanted to be.
I ended up giving over three months notice because I felt so loyal to the company. I am fortunate that my husband’s salary allows me a little flexibility. I have had a YouTube channel for almost 10 years and other social media that I monetize, in addition to a small business started a year ago and making charcuterie boards for events and weddings. Financially, I still earn as much as I do with a salary, just with less stress and more time with my family.