Nine Tips for Combating the Restaurant Labor Shortage
One of the biggest challenges restaurants face today is the continuing labor shortage. In a recent survey by the National Restaurant Association, 65% of restaurant operators reported that they do not have enough employees to support customer demand. Although the right strategies for addressing the labor shortage will depend on your restaurant’s particular facts and circumstances, here are nine tips to consider:
1. Evaluate Your Compensation and Benefits Packages
To attract and retain workers in the current environment, many restaurants will need to offer more competitive pay and benefits. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, compensation costs in the accommodation and food service industry were up 8.1% for the 12-month period ending June 2022.
2. Recruit Online
Take advantage of digital recruiting tools, such as social media and online job boards. Younger workers are more likely to conduct a job search online, so traditional recruiting techniques may miss them. Online recruiting also allows you to expand your search beyond your geographical market, where you may find qualified workers who are willing to relocate for the right opportunity.
3. Offer Flexible Scheduling
For many prospective employees, a flexible schedule can be as important or even more important than compensation. To attract these workers, restaurants should consider flexible work arrangements, although this may be challenging for certain positions.
4. Offer Career Opportunities
For many workers, opportunities for career advancement can be a powerful recruitment and retention tool. You can distinguish yourself from the competition by offering training and mentoring programs and a clear career progression path.
5. Expand Your Labor Pool
Looking beyond the typical job candidates you considered in the past can reveal a huge, untapped workforce. Examples include people with disabilities, teenagers, older workers, and ex-felons. Expanding your labor pool may even provide you with tax savings. For example, the federal Work Opportunity Tax Credit offers significant tax benefits to employers who hire workers from certain disadvantaged groups, including disabled workers, unemployed veterans, and ex-felons.
6. Take Advantage of Technology
Leveraging technology can be an effective strategy for combating the labor shortage and reducing costs while improving customer satisfaction. Examples include self-service kiosks, QR codes, and tableside tablets for ordering and payment; online reservation systems; online ordering and payment for takeout and delivery; and even robotic food servers or cooking assistants.
7. Outsource Recruiting
A byproduct of the labor shortage is the extra time managers must spend on recruiting, taking them away from more important activities. Outsourcing places the recruiting function in the hands of people with greater resources and expertise while freeing restaurant managers to focus on food quality, customer service, marketing, managing vendor relationships, and other critical tasks.
8. Use a Temp Agency
To meet your staffing needs in the short term, a temp agency can provide you with quick access to qualified workers.
9. Involve Current Employees in Recruitment
Your current employees can be some of your most effective recruiters. If they are satisfied with their jobs, they will be happy to encourage their friends or family members to work for you. Consider offering employees referral bonuses or other incentives to get involved in the recruitment process.
Source: Tom Pierce, Orba