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Frontline Workers Survey: No End in Sight for ‘Great Resignation’

frontline workers

The Great Resignation may have slowed, but frontline workers still are expressing high levels of dissatisfaction with their jobs, a survey released Wednesday by Beekeeper indicated.

The 2024 Global Frontline Workforce Survey, which queried some 8,100 frontline employees, found workers still feel disconnected, discontent and demotivated, hampering growth and costing companies billions of dollars in lost productivity, staff attrition and diminished profits.

Statista reported the pace of quits has slowed from a peak of 4.5 million a month between November 2021 and April 2022, but remains between 3.5 million and 4 million, slightly higher than pre-pandemic levels.

“Lurking recession fears have … played their part in convincing more workers to stay put rather than to risk being unemployed at the wrong time,” Statista said.

The greatest level of attrition, the Beekeeper survey found, was in the restaurant and bar sector, followed by construction and hotels and resorts – 68%, 57% and 56%, respectively.

“We simply need adequate levels of staffing and better communication about our daily goals,” one hospitality worker told researchers.

Staff churn rolls on

In 2023 in the U.S., 52% of frontline workers changed jobs at least once and it was similar for frontline managers at 49%. The highest churn group in the sample was U.S.-based managers of bars and restaurants, 61% of whom took a new position in the past year.

“The workforce has evolved over the last few years, and the restaurant industry hasn’t kept up,” Robert Kaskel, expert on restaurant retention at Checkr.com, told The Food Institute. “People have largely chosen restaurant jobs for the opportunity to make more money and [for] the flexibility. Inflation has eaten into that once plush income, and flexibility no longer stands out because many other industries have adopted more flexible schedules and setups.

“So, restaurant work has virtually no competitive edge over other options.”

Starr Douglas, CEO of FrontHouz, agreed, adding that the unpredictability of work schedules in the restaurant sector also is a major factor.

Wages and pay remain the top reason for quitting, followed by work-life balance and better prospects. Workers also complained about not getting enough support and said they would like more guarantees of safety and security.

An analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data by Stateline.org finds pay hikes for hospitality workers averaged 30% in the past four years, even in states that have not raised the minimum wage beyond the federal floor of $7.25 an hour.

“We’re experiencing a historic moment of worker power, where workers just aren’t willing to accept these wages anymore,” Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage in Massachusetts, told Stateline.

Workers want to be valued

The Beekeeper survey also found workers want to feel like they’re part of a team, and that their work matters.

“They’d like to have managers set clear goals and expectations and then be able to communicate and collaborate with each other to get the job done. It’s important to note that this is different from just being told what the company’s goals and objectives and key results are,” the report said, adding there is a disconnect between what managers think their workers want and what the employees actually want.

FrontHouz’s Douglas told FI there are ways of fixing the situation, especially where restaurants and bars are concerned.

“To address the high turnover and dissatisfaction among restaurant managers, restaurant owners should invest in technological solutions. These could include gig work platforms to manage staffing fluctuations, advanced scheduling tools to provide more stable and predictable work hours, and systems that streamline operational tasks,” Douglas said.

“By implementing technology that simplifies management tasks and improves work-life balance, restaurant owners can significantly reduce the stress and burnout that managers frequently experience. This approach not only supports the wellbeing of managers but also contributes to a more efficient, stable, and profitable operation in the long term.”

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