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New Report: How Do Food Service Workers Feel About Their Jobs in 2024?

In our latest survey, KURU Footwear takes a deep dive into restaurant workers’ mental and physical health.

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By: KURU Footwear

The restaurant industry took a hit when COVID-19 first swept the nation, and we’re still learning how these effects have played out in a post-pandemic world. But just how are restaurant workers feeling now—four years later?

As a follow up to our 2023 Restaurant Worker Survey, we wanted to take a closer look at restaurant workers’ job satisfaction trends—from their emotional well being to the prevalence of work-related injuries to which factors matter most for job fulfillment.

Why this study? At KURU Footwear, we care about foot health and how it impacts people’s daily lives. Those who work long hours on their feet on hard floors (think restaurant workers) are particularly at risk for foot pain conditions such as plantar fasciitis and foot-related injuries. As we continue our mission to eliminate foot pain, we work to stay on top of industry trends that affect our customers. Chefs and servers—this one’s for you!

So just how do restaurant workers feel about their jobs in 2024? View our survey findings below!

Industry Insights in 2024: Employee Longevity, Staff Shortages, and Burnout Trends

We surveyed 600 Americans who are currently employed in the food service industry. A significant majority (78%) say they’ve been in the industry for two years or more, with 18% reporting they’ve been in the industry longer than 10 years!

In 2024, 68% say they feel there is still a shortage of food service workers in the industry right now. Interestingly, this is precisely the same number that workers reported in our 2023 survey last year (68%).

On a more positive note, fewer are feeling burned out by their job compared to last year, with 51% saying they feel burned out, versus 56% last year.

Infographic with statistics from the survey, outlined above

Improving Job Satisfaction: A Positive Shift in Food Service Workers’ Perspectives

Job satisfaction is on the up-and-up, too. We found that 3 in 4 (75%) of food service workers say they are satisfied with their current working conditions, versus the 68% who said the same last year (a 7% increase!). Only one quarter of restaurant workers (25%) say they are not satisfied with their current working conditions.

Emotionally speaking, how do restaurant workers actually feel about their jobs on a daily basis? A slim majority—57%—say they feel “happy” in their jobs, while 35% report they feel “neutral.” Just 8% of food service workers report that they are currently “unhappy” in their job.

Here are the top sentiments that they expressed:

  1. Happy (57%) – versus 45% last year
  2. Content (44%) – versus 34% last year
  3. Appreciated (38%) – versus 24% last year
  4. Optimistic (33%) – up from 22% last year
  5. Fulfilled (27%) – versus 16% last year

Infographic containing survey results, as explained above

Overall, positive sentiment is up across the board. Last year, “stressed”, “overworked”, and “exhausted” were all in the top 5 most commonly reported sentiments. This year, it’s only positive sentiments in the top 5, with huge gains over last year.

What Matters Most? Restaurant Workers Report Top Factors for Their On-The-Job Fulfillment

When it comes to contributing factors for job satisfaction in the food service industry, here is what our survey respondents reported as the most to least important factors:

  1. Pay (32%) – up from 46% from last year
  2. Flexibility (18%)
  3. Safety (15%) – up from 6% from last year
  4. Comfort (11%)
  5. Communication (8%)
  6. Sanitation/Health (5%)
  7. Coworkers (5%)
  8. Managers (5%)

A majority (68%) of those surveyed say they think they’ll still be working in the food service industry in one year, whereas 13% say they don’t think they will be, and 19% aren’t quite sure what the future holds.

Methodology and Sources

KURU Footwear surveyed 600 Americans 18 years and older who currently (as of January 2024) work in the food/restaurant service industry. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4% and a confidence level of 95%.


  1. KURU Footwear proprietary survey, conducted January 2024

About Us

At KURU, we’re on a mission to help you Heel Better™ with footwear technology designed to relieve foot pain, so you can live a life you love. Since launching our innovative technology in 2008, we’ve received more than 35,000 five-star reviews from thousands of customers who tell us their KURU shoes helped them with conditions (such as plantar fasciitis) and got them back to doing what they love.

Please direct all media inquiries to pr@kurufootwear.com.

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