How to Handle a Labor Shortage at Your Restaurant

Several restaurants across the country have been dealing with high turnover due to the pandemic. The restaurant landscape has changed with many people turning to online orders, while many establishments have adjusted their strategies regarding serving customers to satisfy local health guidelines. A combination of mandatory lockdowns, customer anxieties, and employee fears have led to labor shortages across the board, with restaurant managers willing to downsize staff to recoup extensive losses. Other restaurants, particularly startups, were left with no choice but to close amid the growing expenses and uncertainty.

If you’re a restaurant manager facing these challenges, you have to be creative and resourceful in your approach to addressing the labor shortage. As more vaccines are administered, and more people are willing to return to in-person dining, here are a few suggestions to help you.

Why Has the Labor Shortage Been Happening?

Labor shortages have been taking place for various reasons

Simply put, a lot of restaurant workers don’t think it’s worth the risk to continue working in a hands-on industry amid pandemic-related concerns. Some have left the restaurant industry to accept more stable jobs, seeking better wages and benefits. Others were likely concerned by the fact that the foodservice industry has suffered some of the highest mortality rates throughout the pandemic.

Furthermore, some restaurant workers found it more profitable to sit at home instead of working. Given the stagnant wages many workers made, including an unchanged minimum wage and tips, Restaurant workers earned more money to stay at home due to improved unemployment benefits and stimulus checks. Combine the benefits with the heightened safety concerns and many workers saw no point in coming back to the kitchen, serving or doing any alternative restaurant job.

There are other factors as well such as changing immigration guidelines, reducing the number of undocumented workers in the industry. Many restaurants rely on new immigrants to fill positions. And, fewer teenagers are willing to take low-paying positions than before, turning to other professions to break into being employed.

What Can Be Done To Address the Shortage?

Creative Recruiting

If people aren’t coming to you in earnest, you need to find inventive and proactive ways to attract them. You can step up your advertising game by consistently promoting job ads online and placing them across various channels, including social media. Furthermore, you should advertise through community centers, schools and any other areas with high visbility.

Another thing you should consider is partnering with local staffing agencies to help you identify and recruit talent. When attracting such talent, make your job descriptions as enticing as possible, especially if you’re looking for young people to join your workforce. If your restaurant is an enjoyable place to work, make the advertising reflect your personality. Make it fun and full of life.

Take Advantage of Technology

Be as tech-savvy as your customers are, if not more so

If you’re looking to increase efficiency within your restaurant as you combat the strain caused by a reduced workforce, utilizing technology will ease some of the stress. You can use technology to enhance productivity and output throughout your restaurant. With fewer workers on hand, you can increase the amount of machinery and appliances on-premises to make up for the lack of staff you have.