Restaurant staff need a makeover for post-COVID success
Among the many challenges facing the restaurant industry throughout the pandemic, staffing has been a constant woe. Relying mainly on off-premises sales for more than a year, many operators have been forced to take time off or even permanently lay off their staff. While the combination of reduced indoor capacity limitations and the warmer months ahead sparks optimism for the future of the industry, getting employees back to work remains an uphill battle.
To effectively meet customer demands in an environment of increasing restaurant sales, operators need to step up their recruiting, hiring and retention game, and technology-driven staffing solutions can play a key role. Still competing for the workforce with platforms like Uber Eats and DoorDash, restaurants can also take inspiration from the gig economy playbook by providing their employees with flexibility similar to that of a gig, but with added benefits and protections.
Find employees faster and smarter
Technology permeates almost every aspect of our daily lives, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t play a bigger role in restaurant recruiting efforts. Particularly in a labor shortage, time-consuming applications are no longer effective for job seekers seeking employment or for managers who need their positions filled. Placing a simple QR code on the front of a facility or on a local job board can allow applicants to quickly scan and review job descriptions to determine if it’s right for them.
Beyond recruiting efforts, hiring itself can be streamlined. A solution is a centralized platform that keeps employee experience and referrals in one place. The skills of the restaurant industry are often interchangeable from job to job, so this approach can make it easy for job seekers to seek out similar new opportunities and for managers to identify qualified candidates, without forcing either party to complete or review endless applications. These types of solutions also make the onboarding process more efficient in the long run, allowing qualified candidates to start work faster without requiring extensive, expensive and often unnecessary training.
Offer flexibility to hire the competition
A tight labor market equates to a competitive labor market. Restaurant owners are looking for the same employees and simultaneously compete with the booming concert economy. Restaurants should be encouraged to differentiate themselves in order to attract new employees, beyond incentives such as pizza parties and employee raffles.
A recent study showed that low-paid workers generally have less access to voluntary flexibility than higher-paid workers, even if it were available to this population the result could be powerful. Particularly emerging from the other side of the pandemic, the part-time workforce is struggling, often juggling multiple jobs to make up for lost wages. Now more than ever, giving restaurant workers more autonomy to work when their schedule best permits can help operators attract employees.
However, restaurants always require a certain level of structure and labor dependency, which is why flexible working for industry has not always been an option. Today, operators can take advantage of technology-driven mobile apps that not only allow managers to broadcast open schedules to eligible workers, days in advance or at the last minute, but also workers to create their own schedules. Similar in concept to the business model of the concert economy, restaurants can take this approach further by offering benefits.
Benefits are key to keeping employees
Finding and on-boarding staff quickly enough to meet the needs of the burgeoning restaurant industry is a challenge, but effective employee retention is just as important. According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the accommodation and food services industry reported 1.3 million job vacancies in April, but the resignation rate is 5.6%, a record high. This rapid turnover is seriously affecting restaurant results. The cost of replacing a winning employee $ 10 an hour is more than $ 3.300. While flexible hours can do wonders in keeping employees happy, perks and protections are a key incentive that can help restaurants retain staff and better compete with the tastes of the concert economy.
Much of the restaurant industry relies on part-time labor, so the idea of providing benefits to this population has not always been feasible, due to the high costs and expense. tedious administrative tasks. But it’s important to remember that staffing solutions aren’t just good for the corporate world. Today, restaurateurs can work with staffing platforms specializing in the employment of part-time workers to help them adopt employer status. The business model is similar: the staffing entity serves as an employer and the restaurant itself is able to use the workers to staff its operations. With this approach, the staffing platform manages administrative and professional responsibilities, including granting benefits and protections to eligible employees, and restaurant management can once again focus on meeting customer needs.
The labor shortage is improving month by month, but we cannot forget that staffing restaurants was a tiresome, time consuming and costly challenge for operators long before the pandemic ensued. In our new world, the old ways of recruiting, hiring and retaining workers are no longer effective, and the pandemic has only prompted the industry to start making substantial changes to these processes.
Technology can serve as a vital tool to help restaurants get their staff back on track after COVID, allowing them to more easily connect with the ready-to-hire workforce. In addition, the value of offering our restaurant workers economy-like flexibility and embracing employer status to provide much-needed benefits and protections is also essential. Restaurants need to remember that employees are what keeps their customers served and business afloat, so it’s time to rethink how we engage with them.
Scott Absher is CEO and co-founder of ShiftPixy, a recruiting company that designs, manages and sells access to a revolutionary technological platform, focused on the restaurant and hospitality industry. ShiftPixy helps businesses connect and manage their workforce, and stay compliant with part-time employee mandates, while enabling them to deliver a better customer experience.