Bakers Journal

Editor’s Letter: Banishing burnout

April 10, 2023
By Colleen Cross

It’s well past time to talk about burnout in the bakery. 

Lack of permanent, reliable staff is an acute and continuing problem that affects every aspect of a bakery’s operation.

A business can’t operate without adequate staffing. Yet somehow businesses continue to operate – and maintain a high quality of product and customer service. But at what cost to the team that has stayed the course?

The cost to your business may be the very real risk of owner, manager and employee burnout. 


The American Psychiatric Association describes job burnout as: 

  • detachment or cynicism – being less empathetic with others, detached from work, seeing work or elements of work as a source of frustration 
  • low personal achievement – experiencing work as unrewarding, feelings of “going through the motions”
  • depersonalization – thoughts and feelings seem unreal or not belonging to oneself 
  • emotional depletion – feeling frustrated, tired of going to work, finding it hard to deal with others at work

According to the Restaurants Canada Foodservice Facts Guide, 72 per cent of restaurants and food-service operations report having to increase hours worked by owners and managers to compensate for the lack of staff. Sixty-four per cent of Canadian operators say they’ve reduced their hours of operation. It’s one area of the business where they can control and maintain costs.

“Because we can’t find anyone to give the keys to, we must work open to close. Reducing hours to give ourselves and our existing staff a break is the only solution. It’s a real problem,” says pizzeria owner Paul Mollica of Pie-zano’s Authentic Italian Pizza in Chatham, Ont., in “Hour struggle” by Andrew Hind for Canadian Pizza.

Another operator took the step to close on Mondays and is resisting the urge to reopen post-COVID. He uses the time to get administration and planning done and doesn’t foresee re-opening on Mondays.

In February’s BAC Bulletin, Martin Barnett urged owners to consider doing away with the graveyard shift and made other good points: “Time off is very important. . . . You cannot please everyone, and it is part of our service to stay in business. Cutting back on hours doesn’t mean reducing profitability. Scheduling will be easier and your staff will thank you too.” 

We recommend looking into a workplace mental health program such as, spearheaded by the Canadian Mental Health Association to help employers support employees. 

Another way to avoid burnout is to find community with others who share your struggle.Have a regular cup of coffee or chat with a fellow operator in your neighbourhood or BIA, visit an online forum such as or attend one of the BAC’s regional meetings (the next is set for May 29 in Winnipeg – watch and for details).

Bakery Showcase May 14-15 in Vancouver is an ideal place to make connections and refresh your business and mindset. Have a look at this year’s guide starting on page 33. Among many interesting sessions, we recommend you attend “A Formula for Thriving Businesses and Good Jobs” by Karen Bornarth, executive director of the Bread Bakers Guild of America. It will arm you with tools to provide good jobs, keep good people and live a more balanced life. 

Until then, take care of yourselves.

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