Employees in retail and hospitality have had enough. They feel underpaid, burned out and not valued. And they’re seriously thinking about quitting.
According to its latest survey of workers, Mercer said 48 percent of respondents are looking to leave their jobs. And of those polled making less than $30,000 a year, 58 percent said they’re eyeing the door.
While some are considering career changes, many are stuck in low-paying jobs with few benefits or avenues to advance. And while retail workers say their jobs keep them socially connected and mentally stimulated, researchers at Mercer said “the drawbacks outweigh the benefits for them right now. They find the work chaotic, overwhelming and unfulfilling on a daily basis.”
And aside from not feeling supported, valued or heard, respondents said “they are exhausted by repetitive and physically demanding jobs,” the authors of the report noted, adding that many retail and hospitality jobs “are customer-facing, and employees have to be always ‘on’ and cheerful, even while customers are increasingly negative and demanding, taking out their frustration over supply shortages, price increases, under-resourcing and/or dissatisfaction with health and safety policies.”
When those polled were asked what would best support their mental health and ease burnout, “retail and hospitality employees prioritized a reduced workload and flexible work schedule,” Mercer said, adding that this “is a key area employers need to act on to improve retention — especially because they cannot financially afford a further change in pay.”
To put the data results into perspective, Mercer said hospitality and retail workers “didn’t get to stay home during the pandemic — some were laid off, and the rest went to work, wore masks, installed glass barriers and kept the consumer economy afloat.” Then, in late 2021, “the industry was hit with supply chain issues and labor shortages, followed by the war in Ukraine and now, inflation.”
It is inflation that is taking the greatest toll. Mercer found that any money stashed away by workers for an emergency is now being used for food and rent as well as unplanned expenses. When asked about their top concerns, Mercer found financial security to be a prominent theme of those polled.
“Covering monthly expenses remained the top concern since last year, but respondents now indicate that they’re nearly twice as concerned about that as any other item,” Mercer noted.
The report also highlighted other concerns, which included better balancing of work and life; being able to retire, and maintaining emotional and mental health. Personal fulfillment, debt and personal safety were other concerns that made the list.
Action items that companies can do to mitigate some of these issues and maintain employee retention include offering competitive pay rates, offering wellness resources and working with employees on “designing a career” and other career development efforts.