Conflicts and Their Causes in the Restaurant Industry

To become an efficient manager, it is essential to be able to recognize the most common conflicts that may arise in the workplace. In the restaurant industry, customer-employee relationships play a crucial part in the success of any establishment. Many disputes arise from adverse experiences of customers, who then proceed to express their concerns to frontline employees. When working in a highly stressful environment, employees might take customer negativity for hostility and react in a similar manner, further damaging the reputation of an establishment. This essay will discuss how to reduce or evade such a conflict.

More often than not, the escalation for this type of conflict lies in employees’ attitudes and stress levels. Stress is a primary factor that affects the reaction of an employee in such a situation. To reduce the rate of these conflicts, it is essential to consider reducing the factors that contribute to employee stress levels, such as extensive supervision, role overload, and long work hours (Orlowski et al., 2016).

Other sources of stress to consider are the lack of managerial directives and team cohesiveness, which results in a hostile work environment (Orlowski et al., 2016). Some cases might be caused by customers who deliberately create conflicts with employees and disrupt the restaurant operations on purpose (Bi et al., 2021). It is necessary to determine the exact reason prior to taking any meaningful action against a participant. This can be achieved by observing the situation before the intervention, asking the employees to provide a witness report, and asking for customer feedback if any dissatisfaction arises.

Further factors that contribute to the occurrence of this method are the behavior and the emotional intelligence of an employee involved in this conflict. It is crucial for an employee who might encounter an unsatisfied customer who approaches them with criticism to possess emotional and social competence and react with consideration and empathy (Genc & Kozak, 2020). Yang et al. (2020) argue that “violation of the social norms” that can occur during such a situation has a prominent adverse effect on employee motivation (p. 1). Therefore, it might be beneficial for a manager to conduct a short course on the topic, explaining the typical conflicts in the workplace and how to resolve them correctly.

As a manager, I would approach the situation by listening to the customer’s concerns while interrupting any answers from the employee if there is a visible emotional response from his or her side. More experienced workers can be trusted with dealing with a potentially conflicting situation themselves, which provides them with confidence from the opportunity to operate autonomously. Bi et al. (2021) argue that empowerment is a crucial step in a long-term resolution of customer-employee conflicts, as it enhances “employees’ ability to cope with threats” and allows them to “improve the work environment” (p. 5).

In conclusion, customer-employee conflicts stemming from service dissatisfaction are common in the restaurant industry, and employees must be taught how to deal with customers who exhibit hostile behavior without damaging the reputation of an establishment. The sustainability of a restaurant depends on the ability of its employees to adequately deal with stress, which can be boosted by promoting meaningful ways of conflict resolution and autonomous action towards improvements of the work environment (Bi et al., 2021). It can be achieved by analyzing the causes of each individual conflict and providing recommendations regarding a proper response, as well as by ensuring that workers have low levels of stress and high emotional intelligence.


Bi, Y., Choi, S., Yin, J., & Kim, I. (2021). Stress on frontline employees from customer aggression in the restaurant industry: The moderating effect of empowerment. Sustainability, 13(3), 1433. Web.

Genc, V., & Kozak, M. A. (2020). Emotional and social competence in the aestheticization of labor in the restaurant industry. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 32(3), 1201-1225. Web.

Orlowski, M., Murphy, K. S., & Severt, D. (2016). Commitment and conflict in the restaurant industry: Perceptions from the Generation Y viewpoint. Journal of Foodservice Business Research, 20(2), 218-237. Web.

Yang, F., Lu, M., & Huang, X. (2020). Customer mistreatment and employee well-being: A daily diary study of recovery mechanisms for frontline restaurant employees in a hotel. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 91, 102665. Web.

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