The hospitality industry is high-energy, and often as entertaining for workers as it is for visitors – but also incredibly stressful at times. There are long hours, often with little interaction among staff. Workers often feel the need to ‘put on a face’ and pretend to feel happier than they are, for visitor’s sakes.

Because so many staff are skilled at ‘faking it’ oftentimes it can be difficult to see past the charade and know how your staff are really feeling. Know the signs of burnout among hospitality workers, and you’ll be able to better provide for them – and in turn, your business.

The Three Classes of Burnout Symptoms

Physical – Stress is most visible when it is physical. Stress has a negative effect on our energy levels, as well as on our immune system. If your workers are taking more frequent sick days, less productive, less sociable, or just not as bright and perky as they usually are, you might be seeing long-term effects of stress and burnout.

Emotional – Not everybody comes to work with the same levels of happiness and eagerness to work. There’s nothing wrong with this, but if your workers are starting to be more irritable with each other, they might be feeling the emotional effects of burnout. Constantly ‘being on’ and performing emotional labor can result in a more sensitive emotional state.

Behavioral – Productivity is often the end-all-be-all of how management views its workers, and will likely be the first place you see burnout. It might not be a lot, but behavior changes are often the result of emotional and physical stress working together. If a worker is tired, touchy, and less sociable, even a little, these could ‘trickle up’ in a sense, resulting in less productive days.

If you’ve started to see signs of burnout among your staff, there are a few ways to respond.  To begin with, ensure they are taking regular breaks. It’s unlikely that running your workers ragged is necessary for business, so provide workers time to breathe.

Burnout is often made worse by feelings of hopelessness – let your workers have more say in their shifts, or give them more flexible schedules. Giving workers a bit of empowerment can go a long way.

In hospitality, we are both a service and a product. This tension can be stressful and difficult to deal with at all stages and levels. If you’ve noticed yourself struggling with any of the above symptoms, take the time to review your own mental and physical health – and don’t neglect those who put on a happy face.