Multitasking nightmare: Average service industry workers juggles 11 tasks each shift

NEW YORK — Every task counts — a new survey has revealed “absolute chaos” ensues for three in four front-line service industry workers if they forget something during their shift. The poll of 1,000 American employees in service industries — food and beverage, hospitality, etc. — found the average worker has 11 tasks to complete by the end of each shift.

Early shifts appear to be the busiest: respondents who work mornings say they have an average of 23 daily tasks, almost twice as many as the overall average. Three out of four (76%) claim that if they forget even one of those numerous tasks, everything at work is thrown into chaos.

Commissioned by Wisetail and conducted by OnePoll, the survey asked respondents to look beyond these specific tasks, exploring the skills, behaviors, and training they need to do their jobs successfully. Seventy-four percent use a number of critical life skills for their job, including time management (42%), multitasking (41%), and critical thinking (40%). Following that, respondents cite the ability to keep things presentable and organized (40%) and the ability to prioritize tasks (39%).

There’s no doubt these skills come in handy: 68 percent of workers say their job is stressful, and 24 percent think this stress impacts the quality of their work. When asked what would help ensure things are done correctly, one respondent says it’d be beneficial if their employer “would train employees better.”

Perhaps as a result, 53 percent of respondents admit they’ve missed a step in an important task, which has created a dangerous or unpleasant situation at work.

workers training

Service industry workers need stronger training protocol

Making mistakes at work can stem from a number of different causes, according to respondents, including not having access to things needed for the job (40%), taking on another employee’s tasks (38%), and working with malfunctioning equipment (36%).

At the core of the issue: all of these mistakes are avoidable, with proper training and oversight. Consequences often include receiving customer complaints (62%), breaking pieces of work equipment (58%), and even someone getting hurt (57%).

“Frontline workers are stressed – and not having the right technology to help manage their day coupled with proper training and communication only magnifies the issue, putting team members and the business at risk,” says Wisetail president Ali Knapp in a statement.

Findings from the survey suggest it’s common for employees to receive their first training through an online system, either company-provided (44%) or hosted through a third-party (28%). Overall, 61 percent receive continual job training sessions for their current roles.

The survey also reveals a few interesting insights on how to implement better training opportunities for their employees.

First, it can be important to know what learning style people prefer — results found 31 percent of respondents were auditory learners, while 29 percent consider themselves visual learners. Second, the survey found 75 percent believe that managers should explain why certain tasks are important when sharing them with employees, to create a deeper understanding.

“Creating an engaged workforce goes beyond initial training,” Knapp continues. “Technology has allowed for organizations to create more consistency in their learning and development programs, but it doesn’t account for day-to-day activities that frontline workers are responsible for. As organizations, we need to do more to support our employees and mitigate stressed-induced errors by encouraging shoulder-to-shoulder learning in their everyday activities.”

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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