How to tackle today’s serious restaurant staffing challenge

Are you ready for a more flexible work environment? Your employees are. The past year has shown that all businesses need to think differently about how they serve their customers and how best to retain and attract talent. This is especially true for restaurants which are now forced to try Herculean tactics to attract candidates to their doors.

It is not just coffee that is prepared in restaurants across our country. The demand for table and bar dining is plentiful, but the inability to hire and retain enough staff creates a perfect storm.

Restaurants that have survived temporary closures and declining revenues over the past 15 months – including thousands of laid-off and laid-off workers – cannot attract and / or retain enough workers, many of whom have found a job. employment in other industries or perceive more unemployed benefits than they can do by working in restaurants.

Some frustrated restaurateurs hang the “Nobody wants to work anymore” sign because their efforts to attract workers are in vain. But what should a restaurateur or restaurant operator do?

Maybe it’s time to get creative by offering incentives that you might not have considered before or simply haven’t implemented. But before we embark on this path, let’s take a look at what’s going on in the ultra-competitive restaurant world.

High turnover, nothing new

Long before the pandemic, retention issues were the norm for an industry with noticeably high turnover. During the period 2015-2017, for example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the turnover rate of the restaurant industry was 81.9%, but industry estimates have reached 150 percent.

Restaurant staff have long been viewed as expendable and replaceable, although training new employees obviously takes time and costs money. Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research estimates the cost of staff turnover averages $ 5,864 per person for a typical frontline worker. The revolving door has turned faster in recent years as restaurant workers seek better wages, conditions, hours, benefits and salaries. After all, who wants to work until midnight on a Saturday?

This industry relies heavily on teenagers, many of whom are in their first jobs. This demographic has an easy incentive to quit their current job in order to pursue “greener grass” elsewhere. The pay is always better, the tips higher, and this chic new bistro? “It’s the bomb!

And COVID-19 restaurant closures and limited hours have only exacerbated these problems.

What’s going on with this whole unemployment thing?

According to the National Restaurant Association, the food and beverage industry has lost 2.5 million jobs in 2020-20 percent below pre-pandemic employment levels. And while more restaurant jobs have been opening regularly since January 2021, many ex-workers are saying ‘no thanks’.

They can stay at home, stay in place and earn enough income in the event of unemployment. They feel safer staying put than going out in public. In restaurants, they come in close contact with other employees and the public, many of whom may not have been vaccinated. Plus, they’re tired of being seen as so easily replaceable.

Mix that up and add this to the recipe: There are about two million under 16 to 34 in the workforce, the most common age group in the restaurant industry. During the pandemic, while some teens went to work to help family finances when parents were made redundant, others avoided entering the workplace to eliminate the risk.

If restaurants want to retain current staff, attract employees, and try to build customer loyalty, restaurant executives need to think, do, act and behave differently.

Encourage rather than increase

Before you throw in the towel, think about what processes you can implement and modify to reduce turnover, improve retention, and attract much-needed new employees. For example, consider.

Flexible compensation options: Many employees, especially those paid by the hour, have little or no access to traditional banking services. Allow them to tap into their paychecks on demand with Earned Wage Access (EWA) solutions. More than half (60%) of HR managers surveyed workers reported citing financial problems, leading to stress, which in turn, leads to decreased performance at work. Help potential newbies and current staff move closer to financial well-being through things like EWA, allowing them access to wages earned between paychecks.

Development opportunities. Employees value continuous career development, often as much as they value a competitive salary. Offer a career with your brand and set them up with a mentor who can show them the ropes and offer advice along the way. When you invest in their success and let them know that the hard work (with your brand) is paying off, you’re more likely to keep them.

Recognize the best dogs. No, it’s not about “We have to talk about your flair(Remember Office Space?) Flair is not necessary! However, if you are missing an employee recognition program, consider creating one to encourage employees and potentials to reach for the stars. When workers feel their contributions matter, turnover drops dramatically. Including a cash incentive and recognition helps them feel appreciated and much less like a consumable commodity.

Pay competitively: Mcdonalds increases its wages by 10% on average in an attempt to attract employees. Additionally, one of its Florida franchises offers $ 50 to anyone who simply shows up for an interview. Money talks, so consider investing in and offering more to attract and retain talent.

Referral bonus distribution: Ask your current employees to help you with the staffing situation. Offer referral bonuses to employees for suggesting a friend for a vacant position. Offer login bonuses to join their team or a bonus to stay for a specific amount of time, for example nine months.

Hardy to party: Rather than the same ole, same ole hiring event, copy Taco Bell’s four-year initiative to host a hiring evening. At Taco Bell, consider using your patio, parking lot, or indoor space to inject fun into the hiring process. How about offering samples of customers’ favorite dishes or offering an appetizer to snack on during interviews with candidates? Why not provide them with some branded bling, like a koozie or a t-shirt to make them feel welcome.

Stay alive

So here’s the deal. Consumers want to dine in your restaurant (s). Yet employees are scarce. To show creativity. Give away things you’ve never offered before. If it seems crazy to get an interview with a bonus of $ 50 (or whatever), it is! Yet in today’s crazy environment where staff are hard to find and keep, you must embrace change to keep brands alive. And, to keep those in-person meal-hungry customers coming back for more.

Are you or are you?

Brian brinkley has over 30 years of experience in companies and start-ups. He is a leader in omnichannel commerce and digital payments technology. Brian founded Zave Networks, which was acquired by Google in 2011 and has become a key part of Google Wallet. Brian has held leadership positions at Sprint PCS and Lucent Technologies. Brian joined QRails as CTO in 2019 and was invited to lead QRails growth strategy as CEO in 2021.

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