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The Great Resignation in the Hospitality Industry (by Nathalie Gardea)

The hospitality industry, like other sectors, has been affected by The Great Resignation, one reason that causes low staffing during COVID 19. Currently, many businesses are struggling with low staffing and dealing with higher turnovers. Many workers within the industry were "forced" to reconsider their positions and job roles due to the high demand for work. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a total of 1,705,000 job openings were available in the leisure and hospitality industry in February 2022. Additionally, there were 919,000 job separations in the accommodation and food service industry. 

So, why are hospitality companies struggling with recruiting new workers? The main reason why few people apply for hospitality jobs is the amount of mental stress the industry holds. When returning to work, many also began revaluating their occupations and careers.

When COVID 19 cases rose, many employees started experiencing an elevated level of stress and job burnout. Generally, management will staff workers by forecasting the level of business using a "customer and employee ratio." Due to the high employee turnover rate and the spread of COVID 19, however, many restaurants and businesses become understaffed, forcing their workers to double their duties and work.

Many employees experienced higher stress in the workplace as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased. Workers began losing motivation and reconsidering their careers. Many individuals began reevaluating their needs to work from home as caregivers and focusing on their health. Joseph Full and William Kerr stated that the deaths and instances of serious illness were the main factors that cause people to consider their roles.

Frontline restaurant workers are taking a high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 virus at work. Restaurant workers who worked in front of the house have to frequently interact with customers and sometimes even have to break social distancing measures. When there is a shortage of staff, restaurant workers also begin taking more tables to cover others' job duties. 

In hotels, housekeepers had to take extra precautions when cleaning departure rooms and were sometimes limited to personal protective gear. When servicing a room, 40% of the room can be a health danger zone for housekeepers to contact COVID. To meet the amount of workload, housekeepers usually only have limited time to clean rooms, usually within a 20-to-25-minute range per room. The Housekeeping Department often employs half of a hotel’s staff, making it the largest department in hotels. Now under low staffing, many hotels reported higher customer complaints about the sanitary and cleanliness of the rooms. 

To increase the staffing level, businesses have offered more benefits and higher pay wages to compete with their competitors. Slidin Dirty’s dine-in restaurant located in Troy New York has personally been affected by an employee shortage. Jill Hart the restaurant’s Catering Director began offering health benefits, paid vacation, sick pay, and 401K hoping to increase hiring applications. The restaurant still has hopes as it recovers from The Great Resignation. 

Restaurants and hotels continue to see an employee shortage and high numbers of turnover rates. More demanding work also caused more employee burnout and stress. COVID-19 has caused individuals to reconsider their careers. Some may pursue working in different fields. 

What can hospitality businesses do to limit employees' stress at work? How can the hospitality industry prevent workers from reconsidering their job/career options and keep them in the field?

About The Author

Nathalie Gardea is currently attending her first year at Cal Poly Pomona at The Collins College of Hospitality Management as a transfer student. She gained an interest in hospitality from growing up in her grandmother’s kitchen in Mexico, Chihuahua, where the local community will get together with family and friends. Nathalie is an employee of Marriott International and hopes to pursue a career in accounting or the food and beverage department. In her free time, Nathalie enjoys traveling and hiking. When exploring she likes to expand her knowledge of new cultures and local restaurants.

Cangro, J. (2021, May 19). Faced with worker shortage, restaurant offers job benefits. Spectrum News 1 Capital Region. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from
Mzezewa, T. (2020, September 11). Hotel Housekeepers Say New Cleaning Protocols Put Their Jobs at Risk. The New York Times. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from
The Great Resignation Didn’t Start with the Pandemic. (2022, March 25). Harvard Business Review. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from


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