Companies struggling to hire and retain staff are dumping more work on existing employees — and it's driving a new wave of burnout

 


Tad Long calls the past three months his "summer from hell."


Long is a district manager and director of operations for a group of Mod Pizza franchises in Ohio and Indiana, a well-salaried career he's earned through three decades of rising up the ranks in the food-service industry.


Throughout June and July, Long told Insider he was routinely working 90-hour weeks, personally filling in for missing hourly workers and managers, opening at one location and closing at another, all while frantically trying to hire new staff.


"It's total chaos," he said. "I've had to interview people while I'm working."


Long said his company's increased wages and employee bonuses helped calm things down, but the season was so strenuous it caused him to lose 30 pounds. Since reaching a breaking point in August, he has been gradually recovering, but he doesn't feel he's fully out of the woods yet.


Both job openings and employee quits have been at record highs, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and a rising trend of "ghosting" in the hiring process is putting additional strain on the individuals who are left trying to do the job of several people.


A decade ago it took just three weeks to fill a job on average, but that number has shot up to more than 7 weeks. At the same time, it seems that some employers are trying to find new hires who will do a job and a half while only paying for one.


Joel Innes told Insider he was hired for a dishwasher job at a large hotel in New Mexico, where he says he was the lowest-paid employee. In addition to doing dishes for as many as 900 people, he said his responsibilities included cleaning the employee lounge and mopping out three commercial kitchens.


"The first week I was there they didn't even have a working drain so I had a garbage can that filled up with the dirty dishwater and food that I had to dump in the giant drain in the floor and then clean up all the filth after," he said.


On top of that, Innes said his managers kept adding new tasks like bussing tables and plating food. Fed up, Innes quit without saying a word.


And it's not only low-wage jobs where some employers appear to expect a lot more work for the same or less money.


Christinette Dixon told Insider she sees many job listings in hospital administration with descriptions and responsibilities that don't fit in a normal full-time schedule.


"This job was at least 12 hours a day," she said about one diversity and inclusion manager role she considered. "They're going to work the director and the manager to death. Like, the manager just quit because she's working 12 hours a day making peanuts."


When Dixon asked why there wasn't an additional position for a coordinator to help handle the workload, she was told there wasn't room in the budget.


Christina Garrett, the general manager for the cafe and grille at Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania, told Insider she has hired 13 different people this year for the same position, eight of whom either never showed up or quit without notice.


In a typical season, she would need 40 people to staff the operation, but she currently has just 12 — just enough to cover the 9-to-5 daily hours for the cafe, but not the large dining room.


The lack of staff is taking its toll on Garrett's team — and her personally. She said she has covered many shifts in the past 18 months entirely on her own, with no line employees at all. Her husband has even pitched in to help cover shifts. Although her company raised wages and increased bonuses, those moves haven't been enough.


"Seasoned associates in the service industry are drained and quite frankly tired of feeling that way with little to show for it except time missed with their children and family," Garrett said.


"Even the very best team of five cannot possibly accomplish the same that things the mediocre team of 20 did," she added.

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