Restaurant environments need to improve, treat employees with respect

October 10, 2016

Anne Stewart

astewart@uccs.edu

     It takes a strong person to work in a restaurant.

     Working in a restaurant, no matter what your role, is hard from the start. You work early mornings, late nights, weekends and holidays for pay that isn’t based on how many hours you work.

     A restaurant employee plays many roles: hosting, bussing, dishwashing, serving and cooking to name a few. What a person has to accomplish to simply survive in a restaurant goes beyond their title.

     I worked in restaurants for nearly 10 years; I learned important skills, met interesting people from different parts of the world and made new friends.

     Unfortunately, the details I remember most vividly were the times my hands were full, my feet were aching, my head was pounding and the head line-cook was yelling at me, because he didn’t like the way I asked for a side of mustard.

     Dissension was the norm. Chaos was only to be expected.

     Each time I worked in a different restaurant, I thought it would change; I could remove myself from a poisonous situation and begin anew. But the industry seemed to be the same no matter where I went.

     A few managers I worked for were disrespectful and petty. Even if the manager was OK, it made no difference; co-workers still treated each other as less than.

     Sexual harassment in the work place was also looked at as an innocent joke, and disrespect flung at co-workers behind the backs of customers was standard.

     It was only normal people to yell at you during the dinner rush. I’m not just talking about the man whose drink you just spilled all over him; your fellow servers yell at you too.

     The food industry mindset seems to be tilted in a way that makes people look out for number one. It takes a lot of people to run a restaurant, but it takes more than just the number of people within a company to thrive, and, currently, it doesn’t seem like restaurant employees are thriving.

     Restaurant workers generally like their jobs, but there are always ways to improve in order to increase the employee’s satisfaction with their work as a whole, according to a 2003 article published in Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research.

     It is the manager’s responsibility to pay more attention to unsatisfied employees and make their experience better.

     In a restaurant, the focus is very clearly on the customer. The customer gets what they want, when they want it, and they are always right.

     This is wrong. The focus should be equally distributed to the employees. The companies that care for their employees as much as or more than their customers are onto something.

     The time I spent working in restaurants was time spent well. I always wanted to do it, and while I worked I loved learning.

     But as time passed, I saw that the system is very flawed in how people are treated. The dysfunction is accepted, and this is no longer acceptable.