Over half of restaurant workers says guests have gotten more demanding during the pandemic – but tips have gotten worse, according to a new survey

Restaurant
  • The restaurant industry is in crisis as workers continue to leave for better working conditions.
  • Over half of workers said in a survey that customers have become more demanding in a new survey.
  • Workers say tips have gotten worse in the shift to more to-go orders.

Times are tough in the restaurant industry, and many workers are getting out for other opportunities.

According to restaurant workers surveyed by Lightspeed, 62% said that customers are more demanding than ever before. This fits with other data coming out of the industry, including a majority of restaurant workers reporting emotional abuse and disrespect from customers. Of restaurant operators, 72% agree that customer behavior has gotten worse over the past year.

Despite higher demands from customers, tipping hasn’t improved on the same scale and 60% of workers say guests are ordering more food than before the pandemic but tipping the same amount or less. Loss of tips is especially impacting workers at full-service restaurants, who can make as little as $US2.13 ($AU3) per hour before tips. As those businesses continue to grow takeout orders, workers lose out on potential tips.

Lightspeed surveyed 2,000 restaurant workers and operators on the state of the industry after 1.5 years of the pandemic.

These difficult conditions are leading to a mass exodus of workers from the restaurant industry. Turnover, which is already higher in restaurants than in many industries, is still elevated over pre-pandemic levels, according to a survey of 4,700 former, current, and hopeful restaurant workers from Black Box Intelligence. 15% of those surveyed workers left the restaurant world in the last year, and another 33% said they hope to leave by the end of 2021.

As workers leave, conditions become even more difficult for operators and remaining workers. Business owners say they’re unable to find staff and in some cases even cite a lack of desire to work, while workers say they can demand better pay and benefits in the tight labor market. This mismatch has led to restaurants decreasing hours and closing dining rooms.

Nearly half of operators said that they reduced dining capacities voluntarily. According to a survey from the National Restaurant Association, 61% of fast-food restaurants, and 81% of full-service restaurants said that they decided to shut parts of dining rooms in August because they didn’t have the workers to serve those areas.

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