I’m sure everyone who has worked in the restaurant industry has heard a handful of times from their management, to leave their outside life at the door.
Yes, in this industry it is very difficult to have a “bad day” and go be outgoing and happy to every guest they talk to. Unfortunately, customers don’t care about how you feel, or what’s going on in your life, you need to buckle down, put a smile on and act like everything is amazing.
Not only is this expectation coming from your customers, but definitely pushed from your management. If you have an “off day” and make a couple mistakes while your smile isn’t as big as normal, you can be worried that you will get pulled aside from management, telling you to stop fucking up and put a bigger smile on.
Not only is this hard, but the most difficult part is trying to talk to a manager about your mental health and well being. Restaurants are so tight on staff, that flexibility can be an issue. At least this is the current case in Vancouver. With so many new restaurants opening up, they are finding it hard to find and keep good employees and most staff are pushed to work overtime or more than 5 shifts a week, to make up for it. With money being the true addiction, employees find it hard to say no, but in turn this affects their mental and physical health.
Quite often, if an employee goes to a management and explains they are not doing well with their mental health and need to take time off. Management will think that they are undependable, which can hugely affect their upcoming schedule and section, which will in turn affect their wage and tips. You can see how this can snowball and how the pressure to be always on point can make someone worried to ask for help or time away.
It is time for restaurants to take responsibility and acknowledge the mental health issues and over worked employees.
Treating your staff with proper respect and scheduling what is legally acceptable, will create that work life balance and allow your employees to not burn out and work harder while they are there.
For everyone else, please understand that your server is human and can have a bad day from time to time. Unlike a lot of other industries, they are not able to work a “half day” or go home. You never know what they’re going through, and although yes, their job is to make you have a great evening and enjoy your dinner, from time to time it may be a little harder than normal for them to make that smile extra big. You’d be amazed how many times I went to work having a bad day and then had that one table that was so friendly, nice and understanding, that made me remember why I did love serving people.
Let’s all remember that we are all human and all just want to be accepted, understood and appreciated.