Customer service employees deserve more respect

A+now+hiring+sign+at+The+Junction+in+DeKalb.

Brionna Belcher | Northern Star

A “now hiring” sign at The Junction in DeKalb.

Brionna Belcher, Opinion Editor

Working in customer service has never been easy, but the country’s hiring crisis has made things significantly worse. Now more than ever, customer service workers deserve some respect. 

When the country began to phase out of COVID-19 restrictions, the re-opening of restaurants was a chance to regain some normalcy in our lives. There’s nothing like going to your favorite restaurant and eating a nice meal with friends. 

However, things are far from normal for many restaurant owners and their employees. 

There are about 10.9 million job openings in the country. In July, The Worker Shortage Index was at 0.9, meaning there were more job openings than available workers, according to a July news release by the U.S. Department of Labor

Chris Bahramis, manager of The Junction in DeKalb, said the labor shortage has affected the restaurant drastically, but not as bad as he’d anticipated.

“Our employees are like family to us, and they’ve stepped up a lot,”  Bahramis said. 

Due to the hiring crisis businesses are facing, many current employees have taken on more hours than they usually would. 

Grace Barone has worked as a server at The Junction since April, taking on the position in the middle of the labor shortage. 

“I’ve been working crazy hours because we usually have like 20 servers on our staff list,and now we have half of that,” Barone said. “Since my availability is one of the more open ones, I work at least 30 hours a week, I’d say. Oh my gosh, for a student, that’s just a lot.” 

Many customer service employees like Barone not only focus on work but also on school. Even those who aren’t in school certainly have other obligations besides their job. The increase of hours at work has only added to the already stressful task of finding a balance between home and work life. 

When dining out, customers should expect an experience that’s different from what they’re used to prior to the pandemic.

Barone said that because she’s taking on more tables, she isn’t able to give them all the attention that they’re used to receiving. In her experience, the level of respect that customers show their server has gone down, along with the amount they tip. 

While it can be frustrating to wait a little longer for a refill or not see your server as often as usual, customers should recognize the amount of extra work that employees are taking on. 

The labor shortage has affected businesses everywhere, and no one knows when everything will go back to normal. Customer service workers are simply doing the best they can with the situation they’ve been given. 

So the next time you encounter a customer service worker, even if things aren’t going the way you’d like them to, be patient. They’ve shown up to work despite the many challenges the industry is facing, and for that, they deserve some appreciation.