The majority of restaurateurs expect restaurant staffing shortages to last until 2023 or later, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2022 State of the Industry Report. Inevitably, the constant stress of being short-staffed and working tirelessly to fill staffing gaps causes many restaurant managers to suffer from burnout.
Stress is part of the territory as a restaurant manager. Long hours, endless tasks and physical demands are expected, but can also be managed. However, if the stress begins to trickle down to personal life, causing a mental and emotional impact that makes a person feel like they can no longer function, it can be considered burnout.
The physical and emotional stress of burnout not only leads to increased manager turnover, but can also lead to serious health issues, including fatigue, depression, sleep disturbances, cognitive impairment, and more.
All careers have their ups and downs. If a manager begins to feel that the lows consistently outweigh the highs, there are steps that can be taken to address the underlying issues. Here are five ways to fight burnout and bring back job satisfaction.
Yes, the restaurant needs its staff, but the staff also needs time outside the restaurant. Take a day off or book a vacation to recharge your batteries. If taking time off isn’t an option, consider whether certain tasks can be done outside of the restaurant. While this may not equate to fewer hours worked, it still relieves the constant demands that inevitably arise when physically in the building. With so many restaurants using cloud-based management software, tasks such as creating employee schedules, paying bills, ordering products, analyzing recipes, and more. can be done remotely, even via a mobile app in most cases.
Know your limits
Write down the obligations of the week and rank them in order of priority. Don’t feel guilty saying “no” to items that aren’t on the list. It might take some getting used to, but sometimes it’s just not possible to meet other people’s expectations – and that’s okay.
As long as the work is done while maintaining professionalism and creating enjoyable experiences for customers, one can limit the number of additional tasks taken on. If a restaurateur says “no” because he honestly has no more time to give, people will understand. It’s a temporary setback and there will be plenty of opportunities to make up for it.
Ask for help
Even if a restaurateur works 12 to 15 hour days, there will always be more to do. Some managers may think they can’t afford to walk away from the restaurant, but can they mentally and physically afford not to? The restaurant won’t collapse if the manager needs an eight-hour sleep tonight.
When it’s impossible to find the time to do everything that needs to be done in a day, maybe another manager or key employee can help create the schedule for the month or enter the invoices. Chances are co-workers have also experienced bouts of burnout and are stepping in to help during this temporary difficult time. Co-workers are not mind readers, so restaurant managers should raise their hands and ask for help.
It is important for managers to take a step back and remember why they chose the profession of restaurateur. Restaurants create the special food, drink, and environment where people come together with family, friends, and co-workers to have fun and create memories. When experiencing burnout, they need to look beyond the day-to-day tasks at hand and remember the bigger picture. An operator’s duties may include creating schedules, counting inventory, and entering invoices, but this does not define them. Instead, they should focus on why they chose this career path in the first place. What about the career brings joy? Why is work important? What are the small rewards that can move them forward?
Connect with others
Lean on a support system. There is a lot of research on “burnout syndrome,” and depression, detachment, and isolation are some of the common symptoms. Managers need to keep this in mind and try not to close themselves off to those around them. Whether reaching out to family, friends or co-workers, a good support system can help managers deal with temporary burnout. If they have access to an employee assistance program, they should take advantage of its services.
Restaurant managers experiencing burnout need to remember that they are not alone. Feeling tired, overwhelmed, or pushed to the limit are all signs that employees are tapping into a support system. Burnout cannot be solved overnight, but preventative measures can be taken to get operators back on their feet and feeling confident in their profession.