Labor shortages aren’t impossible to navigate, but they do require some creative thinking, perseverance, patience, and a diligent amount of time and energy.
How to Overcome the Labor Shortage and Keep Your Restaurant Running
Restaurant managers are having to actively source from unlikely places and design incentives and benefit programs.
Here are some tactics to help you face the labor shortage:
1. Double down on staff retention.
Before you start recruiting new staff, look inward and focus on what it was about your restaurant that caused your employee to leave. Conducting employee exit interviews – a discussion with a departing employee about their experience working for your business – can help find the root cause of issues and help you improve culture and workplace satisfaction.
Ask current staff for their feedback on why they do like working for you and come up with an action plan based on common things you hear mentioned.
Start conducting meetings regularly with each of your staff members. Here, you can gather feedback about your workplace, but it also leaves the staff feeling supported, helps solve problems before they grow, and shows your staff that you care about them and their career growth.
2. Shake up your business model.
From gratuity-free and restaurant co-ops to open-book management and profit-sharing, there are several non-traditional employment models available to restaurateurs who are finding their existing staff management model isn’t attractive for potential employees.
3. Take care of your team.
Take a look at your restaurant employee benefits and ask yourself: Are these benefits enough to make my restaurant a top choice for prospective employees?
Though it might seem like just another operational expense, employee benefits are extremely valuable in the impact they have on employee retention and recruitment. With the cost of replacing one hourly restaurant employee surpassing $5,000, finding room in the budget for benefits seems like a no-brainer.
Health insurance, profit-sharing, on-the-job hospitality skills training, flexible shifts, year-end bonuses, and free shift meals are just a few ideas worth considering. Try out a performance-based incentive first, like accruing PTO based on the number of hours worked or setting up healthcare benefits that kick in once a staff member has reached a certain level of months worked.
When restaurant employees feel supported by their employer through great pay and benefits, they’re happier and can do their best work. According to Market Watch, more than half of American consumers (56%) said they are living paycheck to paycheck, and restaurant employees are no exception, many of whom have limited or no emergency savings.
4. Take advantage of technology.
Technology, like what Orderlivery is working on, can help increase efficiency while working with fewer employees. Technology can streamline the dining experience: your guests can order and pay at their convenience while decreasing the number of servers you need on the floor.
And, while guests are doing the ordering themselves, servers can focus on the hospitality aspects of their jobs: talking to and connecting with guests, giving menu advice, and checking in on meals.
Guests can order food and drinks whenever they’re ready, not having to wait for a server to come over before ordering another round.
Staff is saving time, increasing the efficiency of service, and guests are still happy and well taken care of.
More on the Labor Shortage
A labor shortage isn’t easy for any business owner or operator to fight – especially in an industry like food service. The key is making your team feel valued, compensated well, and well taken care of, and with some time, attention, and the above tips in your back pocket, your restaurant will continue to thrive.