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How to Combat Restaurant Employee Burnout

What is Employee Burnout?

Burnout happens in every industry, but after the hard hit restaurants took during the global pandemic, it’s becoming more and more prominent within restaurants. According to Psychology Today, burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and often physical exhaustion brought on by prolonged hours or repeated stress. While it’s not an inevitable state of mind, burnout is very common in a fast-paced industry. A study done on 1,000 full-time US professionals indicated that 77% of those workers have experience burnout at least once at their current job. Some respondents even went as far as to say they’ve experienced burnout multiple times. 

Burnout can be caused by many factors including some non-related to work, but even so, they will affect the employee’s mindset overall and translate into their daily tasks. Employee burnout can result in low staff retention, toxic working conditions, loss of revenue, and much more. It can sneak up on you out of nowhere and be difficult to get rid of. Understanding the symptoms and catching them before it happens will make a huge difference. 

How to Recognize Employee Burnout

With the evident labor shortage currently in the restaurant industry, preventing employee burnout is more important than ever. Recognizing the symptoms of burnout is the first step toward stopping it. The most common signs of burnout are irritability, poor sleep or sleeping too long, forgetfulness, lack of motivation, lack of energy, erratic eating behavior, bursts of anger, impatience, and feelings of despair and depression. Some of these may be difficult to notice from an outside perspective, so it’s up to the employees to share this information with their managers in order to receive help. 

5 Ways to Combat Employee Burnout

Once you’ve recognized the symptoms of burnout, you’ll be able to start fighting it! Here are 5 ways to combat burnout in the workplace:

1. Know Your Limits

Not only is it essential to know your limits in the workplace, but also in any other aspect of your life as well. We are only human and we can only take so much on our plate at one time without it overflowing. When you understand your limits and listen to them, you won’t ever have to feel overworked again. This will allow you to perform better time management as well as have a clear mind which is needed to concentrate on the daily tasks you need to complete. 

The hard part about knowing and following your limits is understanding that sometimes you will have to say “no” to someone or something. If you’re sincerely saying no because you have no more time to give, people will be understanding. 

2. Ask for Help

You don’t have to, and you shouldn’t do everything yourself. In a restaurant, it’s crucial to work as a team. When one part of the team is struggling, it’s likely the whole team will struggle. It’s important to look after your teammates and provide them with the support they need to keep going. A healthy work environment will help prevent burnout before it starts. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help as well as offer help when it’s needed. When you have too much to juggle on your own things become much harder. When you work as a team, everything becomes easier!

3. Change Your Routine

Often times a change of routine or a change of scenery can help combat burnout. When you’re feeling burnt out it becomes difficult to concentrate and see things with an open mind. In the workplace, every little thing can become another reason to stress. When you take a second to calm down and eliminate the stressful triggers then it becomes easier to think clearly. 

A change of routine can be done without having to physically leave your workplace. When your work looks the same every day it becomes repetitive. Even for a worker who isn’t burnt out. Making a small change in the repetitive routine can make a huge difference. Try reorganizing your workstation and giving it a new look, or even just switching up the order in which you do your routine. As long as the job is still getting done, these small changes won’t cause any harm and may even be a savior for a burnt-out worker. 

4. Don’t Be a Perfectionist

During the training of any job, you work at you’ll be taught a specific way to get things done right. After the training, it’s left up to the worker to perfect that process and perform it correctly every time. In some cases, the pressure of replicating the training can be detrimental to the employee's mental state. Having the mindset of a perfectionist won’t negatively affect the work being done unless the pressure of making everything perfect starts to increase. When perfectionism becomes overbearing, it can lead to a state of mental and physical exhaustion. Otherwise known as burnout. 

When anyone is feeling burnt out it makes it harder for them to think clearly and can lead to mistakes being made in their work. The way to fight this conundrum before it happens is by understanding we are only human. It’s impossible to be perfect all the time, and by trying to do the impossible you’ll become burnt out easily. Managers can help prevent perfectionist burnout by reiterating that “perfect” doesn’t exist and that “good enough” oftentimes is actually good enough!

5. Take a Break

If you’re overworked and keep working it’s only going to get worse. A cluttered and stressed mind won’t be able to function clearly and can lead to mistakes that will hurt the restaurant and can lead to a decrease in revenue. Taking a second to calm down and breathe will allow you to destress, even if it’s just a little bit. Whether you take a 30-second break or a 10-minute break, that time spent away from the stressful situation will be extremely beneficial. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be able to better function and return to work with a clearer mind than before. Employee burnout can be a difficult obstacle to get over, but once you understand how to combat it you’ll be able to defeat it.


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