The Employers’ Problem: Some Hospitality Staff Just Don’t Care

I’ve been running restaurants for a little over 10 years now (at the time of writing) and employees have always been a fickle bunch; here today, gone the next. It’s a sad fact of the industry that employees, especially the more junior ones, hop between jobs. Sometimes they are just doing the work to fill in and earn some cash before their next real gig comes along. Sometimes they are just lazy and go back to claim benefits rather than work for a living to improve their situation over the long term. But over the last year, and especially this year, the new recruits-cum-leavers have been the worst I have ever seen.

Before I get into details I will say there are many, many great people working in hospitality. It’s one of the largest employers by sector in the country and there are many loyal and hardworking people out there, people who are in it as a career, and people who put their heart into it. We are fortunate to employ some of them in our business and have employed many great people over the years who we would recommend in a flash. But this post is not about them, it’s about the growing number who show zero respect for anybody other than themselves.

Here are a few examples from the last 3 months alone:

E1: Late every day for the 2 weeks they worked. Then just didn’t show up. Never had any reason for lateness except ‘because reasons’ (yes, that was the justification we were given when we enquired). Then, refused to return calls or messages after disappearing without notice, apart from once where the reply bore no resemblance to the question as if some they had just plucked a word from the dictionary.

E2: Worked for less than a week, and as soon as they were paid they did not come to work. Nor would they return calls or messages to find out what had happened. Maybe they died?

E3: Worked for a day then did not show up. Despite calls from various members of the team (and messages), no response. At month-end, they magically called to ask for their money with some story about ‘having problems with their phone’ (which they were using to call us, incidentally) but somehow were not able to contact us in the intervening two weeks via any other means. Pshaw.

E4: Worked a few days. Despite agreeing the week’s rota, they suddenly had ‘too many other commitments’ to be able to work the remainder of the agreed shifts at the weekend. At least we got a message, even if it was 1 minute after they were supposed to start on a Friday evening. Of course, they wanted to know when they would be paid but would not respond to further calls or messages.

E5: Worked for a few months but just did not show up on Monday. No notice.

E6: Worked for a few weeks but just did not show up on Monday. No notice.

E7: Left one branch to go to work in another branch, but never showed up. Would not respond to calls or messages so we had to call their parents in the USA to figure out if they were alive or dead. Finally confirmed a couple of days later they were OK but had just decided to quit. No notice and probably caused a few heart attacks in the family.

E8: Claimed a grandparent had died so needed to return home for 3 months. Why not just resign?

Strangely 2 other prospects who were due to start around the same time as E8’s leaving gave exactly the same story as for why they were not going to start work with us (though mourning periods varied). They were all unrelated to each other.

And, 2 other candidates claimed to have had car accidents at around the same time. Though they were minor incidents they were not able to start work after their few days required recuperation. Was there something in the air that week?

I don’t understand why a simple ‘thanks for the job, but it’s not for me’ or ‘I’ve been offered a different role which I want to take, so thanks again but I will be leaving’ is so hard. I can’t understand why employees need to lie or, more commonly now, just evaporate. The age range of the people involved is 18-35 so many of them should know better by now.

If these people are our future leaders I worry for those who have to work for/with them.

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