Brace yourself for a mass exodus of employees

More than half the wage earners currently working in the hospitality business are planning to quit by Jan. 1, according to new research.
employee dissatisfaction survey restaurants
Photograph: Shutterstock

Restaurants struggling to hold onto their employees are about to hit by a major setback, according to new research.

A survey of 13,659 wage earners by the online job marketplace Joblist revealed that 58% of restaurant and hotel employees intend to quit their jobs by the end of the year, stoking what the researchers have dubbed The Great Resignation.

If the pattern set by earlier quitters persists, a fourth of the workers will leave the hospitality industry for good.

The employees who intend to bail are in addition to the 16% of industry respondents who indicated they’re already no longer working.

The overall driver is the individuals’ dwindling satisfaction with their positions, the study found.  The proportion of workers turned off by their hospitality jobs has doubled during the pandemic to a third of the labor force, compared with the 15% who said they were dissatisfied before the coronavirus crisis.

The percentage who said they’re satisfied with their positions dropped to 42%, from a pre-pandemic benchmark of 64%.

“Such extreme levels of employee dissatisfaction will likely lead to a wave of resignations in the near future,” the Joblist study states. “This is a strong signal that the labor shortage affecting the hospitality industry might get worse before it gets better, as increased turnover exacerbates an already difficult hiring environment for employers.”

Among the 25% of former hospitality workers who said they’re done with restaurants, bars and hotels, the leading source of their dissatisfaction was low pay (cited by 56%).  The other most frequent triggers for departures were a desire for a new career (50%), a lack of benefits (39%), difficult customers (38%), long hours and rigid schedules (34%) and potential exposure to coronavirus (23%).

The exodus is also being fueled by a desire for more education. Eleven percent of the respondents said they’ve already gone back to school or enrolled in a training program as a prelude to a new career, and more than a quarter said they’re thinking of pursuing that route.

Some good news

The findings suggested that employers are far from helpless. Across all fields of employment, about a third of job hunters said they would reconsider quitting their current positions if the employer addressed just some sources of their dissatisfaction.

In addition, Joblist said that all employers should benefit from the reopening of schools for in-classroom learning. About 40% of the respondents said their work lives were impacted by the need to participate in their children’s remote learning.

Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.


Exclusive Content

Emerging Brands

5 pre-emerging restaurant brands ready for takeoff

These small concepts are still proving out their ideas, but each shows promise as a potential candidate for the next generation of emerging chains.


This little-known iPhone feature could change restaurant ordering

Tech Check: Almost every customer has a POS in their pocket. Can mini mobile apps get them to actually use it?


Red Lobster gives private equity another black eye

The Bottom Line: The role a giant sale-leaseback had in the bankruptcy filing of the seafood chain has drawn more criticism of the investment firms' financial engineering. The criticism is well-earned.


More from our partners