The hospitality industry has a staffing problem and it’s unlike anything we’ve seen in recent years. Despite many states removing mandates and allowing restaurants to operate at full capacity for quite some time, many restaurants are still struggling, and have reduced hours because they don’t have the people to properly staff the business.
With government subsidies gone, we can no longer say that there are outside forces keeping away restaurant staff. No matter what the job pays or what benefits restaurants are willing to offer, it’s nearly impossible to get anyone to show up for an interview let alone take the job and show up every day.
So why is it so hard to find anyone to work in a restaurant?
There is a long-standing stigma attached to working in restaurants – that the jobs are a short-term fix or a last resort for those who are unskilled. When COVID hit, the hospitality industry was one of the hardest hit.
Those working in restaurants were forced to start looking at other options to make money. As the world began to open slowly, the gig economy was a hospitality worker’s best friend.
People began delivering food, driving for Uber, or offering their freelance services online. People adapted to what was happening in the world faster than restaurants could.
The restaurants that are winning this race were the ones who were quick to respond and adapt to the new “post-pandemic” world when restaurants started to reopen.
People who once thought they had no other choices quickly realized they could make just as much money at home in the gig economy as they could in the restaurant.
So really, WHY is it so hard to find anyone to work in a restaurant?
There are two reasons that you’re still having trouble finding people to work in your restaurant. There’s either a problem with your culture or you aren’t paying enough money.
What Happened to Your Restaurant Culture?
Would you work for you? Think about that before you answer and list out all of the reasons why YOU would want to work in your restaurant.
Every restaurant has a reputation. Not with your customers, but with your staff. When your servers come in for their shift, are they excited to be there? What are they saying to their friends when they go home at night? If your staff isn’t happy, they won’t ever be a good spokesperson to bring in other great staff.
Your restaurant culture stems from a clear set of values and standards. The Navy SEALS have an expression that soldiers don’t rise to the occasion when put under pressure, they rise or fall to their average level of training. The same is true in your restaurant.
Now let’s tackle the problem of wages.
There is no magic number that will make people want to work for you. In fact, there’s probably no number high enough that will overcome a bad restaurant culture.
If your culture is on point and you’re still having trouble getting staff, wages is the next problem to fix.
But what if you simply can’t afford to pay another penny per hour?
You can either pay very talented people a lot of money knowing that they won’t need as much hand-holding and basic training, or you can pay less money to people who need a little more training to know how to do the job perfectly.
At Chick-Fil-A, they have teenagers in high school who have never cooked before manning the grill. Why does everything turn out great every time? They have every process, system, and procedure heavily documented.
When new staff members join the team, they’re trained to perform the exact same steps every single time.
So, what’s the answer? How do you get people to work in your restaurant? It’s not as impossible as it seems on the surface. Focus on creating a great restaurant culture first, then look at whether you can afford to pay more for the top talent out of the gate or if you should be hiring the right personality and leaning on systems and procedures. Are you ready to make some changes?
Ryan Gromfin is an author, speaker, chef, restaurateur, and founder of therestaurantboss.com, clickbacon.com, and scalemyrestaurant.com, and author of Make It Happen. He is the most followed restaurant coach in the world helping Restaurant Owners and Operators increase profits, improve operations, and scale and grow their businesses.