labour shortage

Restaurants adapt to address the long-term labour shortage

The foodservice industry has been fighting the ongoing labour shortage ever since they were allowed to reopen after the pandemic and many of them are preparing to struggle for the long haul. Last year, 25 per cent of restaurateurs were confident that the labour shortage would end in the next six months, however now, 90 per cent of restaurants are not sure that it will even end this year.

With 72 per cent of restaurants still struggling with hiring and retaining staff, and only six per cent say that their staffing is strong. How has the longer-than-expected labour crisis affected restaurants and their approach? Datassential lists some key main shifts that have occurred as a result.

As employers compete for winning candidates, many operators have adjusted their priorities, choosing to invest in offering better pay and more consistent scheduling, rather than focusing on better benefits. 58 per cent are offering a starting pay that’s more than minimum wage, and 48 per cent have restructured to offer more consistent shifts for their staff.

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Teams are still important to restaurant owners, as they prioritize short-term hires over automated, technology-driven solutions. Only 14 per cent say they hypothetically would invest in front-of-house automation, given the option, over hiring more employees.

Growing and keeping great teams is vital for restaurant success, and employers are confident that their teams are reliable, with 44 per cent saying that their staff is committed to their jobs. These days, restaurateurs recognize the importance of balance, too, not wanting to burden employees if they find themselves short-staffed. 68 per cent would have a manager cover a shift or step in themselves, rather than putting the burden on another employee.

Inflation also has an impact on restaurant labour. As the food costs continue to rise, restaurateurs may need to switch to more prepared foods or purchase fewer ingredients to try and manage their budgeting and bottom lines.

While the labour shortage was not expected to go on this long, restaurants are re-evaluating their business models, and adjusting their operations to optimize performance.

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