Burnout and Fast-Food workers: How is Shift Work Contributing to Fatigue?

With the discussion of burnout growing, it’s not surprising that fast-food workers are among those facing increased stress and fatigue due to their jobs.

Emily Guendelsberger, author of On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane, recently wrote an article for Vox illuminating some of the new pressures that fast-food workers face; among them being scheduling and understaffing practices that contribute to a highly stressful and sometimes dangerous work environment.

Algorithms that use recent sales data to predict how much business to expect every hour of the week often determine worker’s schedules. This means that not only are workers’ schedules different week to week, but they may not receive a schedule until a day before it goes into effect. Guendelsberger also highlights scheduling practices like the “clopen”, where workers have back-to-back shifts closing late and opening early the next morning with only a few hours to sleep in between.

We know that rotating shift workers often experience a myriad of fatigue-related health and productivity issues. When these are combined with consistent understaffing and a stressful work environment, it not only creates a situation ripe for workplace accidents but also undermines the dignity of work.

While it may be impossible to eliminate shift work in the fast-food industry, encouraging the major players to develop fatigue management strategies that would improve the wellbeing of their employees would be the first step in decreasing burnout in fast-food workers.

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