How to find employees during this labor shortage
Though the Covid-19 pandemic is nearing an end and communities across the globe are preparing for re-opening, many businesses have found it difficult to find the labor to fill their positions, especially those in the restaurant industry. As Forbes reports, "Workers quitting their jobs increased to new highs of 4 million and 2.7%, with a record 5.6% of restaurant workers quitting their jobs in April. Job openings increased to 9.3 million and 6%, both records. Restaurant job openings increased the most by any industry, adding nearly 350,000 new job openings since March, for a total of 1.34 million job openings in April."
There are differing opinions on such causes as to why labor is so hard to come by, however, that is outside the scope of this article. But the facts are facts, with April 2021 having over 9 million open jobs in the U.S., a record high, it would have been inconclusive to think it's hard to find workers when the U.S. is experiencing higher unemployment numbers. This is why I believe this is not a labor shortage but rather the labor market not finding equilibrium because there are workers, without doubt, it is just that many employers either do not or can not meet the employment demands of their potential hires. Furthermore, I will discuss not where to find workers but how to incentivize hires to onboard and key areas that will apply to workers of low wage, high wage, and skilled wage.
Pay and full time
As a restaurant in America, you may believe in the standard of tipping to be the main benefactor to cover worker's wages, however, I see tipping culture to be the most toxic aspect of the food-service industry.
Storytime: I once approached, during covid, a prospective client about onboarding them to Craspa and the manager on the floor thought I was looking for work. So I amused the notion and inquired in how much they were paying. Safe to say, I was flabbergasted at the offered rate to be a waiter, it was somewhere around $2–3 an hour plus tips. I laughed and made my initial intentions known. However, to think this manager was serious, was troublesome to say the least
How do you expect as a business to acquire talent or labor if disrespectfully and blatantly undervalue them? The top 2 reasons employees leave jobs is because they want higher pay at 23% or their current position is a not-full time at 22%. For some operations, offering higher pay or a full-time position may not be feasible for their finances but the simple fact is that they will have a much harder time acquiring labor as their profile and offerings are not up to market standards.
What I suggest when it comes to luring hires based on pay, is first by eliminating tip culture in all your establishments and pay your workers $10+ an hr or a livable wage. Now as a restaurant operator you must think I am a socialist with a black flag ready to burn down your business, but a livelihood based on unpredictable wages like on tips is sickening and portrays your business to be unfit and incompetent. If you "cannot afford" to pay your workers minimum wage, then raise your prices, and if fear of raising prices is that it will drive out customers. The truth is, that raising prices to more accurately reflect the value of a product, ie dining service, will not drive out customers. If your customers have money to tip, they have an extra few bucks to pay the cost of labor baked into the price of their meals.
If over 20 different countries on par with the United States can operate a food-service industry profitably without a tipping culture, I am 100% sure you can also. Do not think this is a naive statement, "if I raise my prices, customers will go elsewhere". The last time I check there is a Starbucks on every corner and all they sell is overpriced coffee and egg whites. Your customers are your customers for a reason, pricing is not the sole reason you have customers. Also, it is not just about paying minimum wage but making customers no longer accustomed to tipping and express that your employees are paid fairly and accordingly. If they want to tip, either encourage them to come more often or order a dessert/add-on. Thus overall helping the business as a whole and releasing the pressure on employees having inconsistent pay.
Math: If you raised your prices by 10% and had an avg ticket size of $25 as a dine-in restaurant, thus making the new ticket avg $27.50. That will be an extra $2.50, now assume you have on average 20 customers every operating hour and your open 6 hrs a day, totaling an extra $300 a day. Say also you need 1 employee per 5 customers, that is 4 employees to cover the floor and a payroll of $240 a day at a wage of 10 an hour. On paper, you could easily cover labor costs with a 10% increase in price.
Now I am not saying you should up end your operations by providing full-coverage healthcare to 10-hour week workers but rather improve your business environment benefits. These 3 benefits I believe if added and marketed to new hires would decrease your turnover rate and increase acquisition. Music, comfort, and free food. Employers need to let customers jam out to their music if and only if actively listening is not 95% of the time needed. I know for some, allowing employees to be "distracted" may produce a liability but communicating with your employees about these issues in the effort to make their wants heard and executed, will improve your acquisition efforts tremendously. In terms of comfort, allow your cashier to sit in a comfortable chair, maybe turn on the AC or heat, or stress release breaks. A note to add about stress release breaks, stress release should not be considered regular breaks, but rather every 10 minutes, take 2 minutes off to drink water and get some fresh air. The last one is simple, give employees on the floor at least one free meal per 4–6 hours they work and if it is your budget either allow them to share that free meal with a friend or come in on non-work days for a free meal.
Safety and protocol
As a restaurant or QSR, your business is dealing with a high influx of human traffic, thus it is tantamount that you make your employees and new hires feel safe to come to work. Along with establishing an environment that supports health-conscious behavior, such as not penalizing employees for reporting possible illness or exposure. In addition, not penalizing employees for calling in is not simply not firing them but also possibly offering full or reduced paid sick leave. There is a high likelihood that your employees and hires need work, so they will be less incentivized to call in to not miss out on wages, which would protect not only the on-floor employees but customers. Expressing to hires how your organization positively handles illnesses and complaints, will attract more reliable hires and increased labor acquisition. If you worry about people taking advantage of your organization's leniency, then enact a strike rule, but with a more marketable name.
Going the extra mile and commuting.
For hourly workers and lower-salaried positions, location is one of the biggest - and often underestimated - drivers of effective recruiting. Research has shown that minor geographic differences in available talent and open jobs, even in the same city, can lead to higher unemployment. Many Americans moved for family and Covid-related reasons in the last year and more are actively considering relocating, which implies that recruiting challenges can increase for employers whose job sites have remained the same.
“<b>I found an article that could not explain better how to improve commute:</b> If the effectiveness of your local talent strategies is wearing off, look at ways of improving accessibility and other ways of reducing commuting time. Structuring your 40-hour workweek as four shifts of 10 hours each, instead of a regular five-day workweek, will reduce the time your workers spend commuting by 20%. Moving a shift's starting time away from rush hour widens the set of home residences that can reach your establishment in a given driving time. And as employers who have been able to offer remote work are considering a return to the office, they should know that experimental research values the option for remote work at 8% of the wage for the average job-seeker. <br><br> You might additionally consider providing ride services, offering reimbursement for lengthier commutes, relocation incentives, or opening satellite locations. In the longer run, recognize that access to your work location by great talent is hard to substitute when workers account for a large share of your value creation - you should incorporate accessibility measures in selecting future locations.”
A recent study by CareerBuilder.com shows that a whopping 58 percent of managers said they didn't receive any management training. Looking at your organization, do you believe you have provided quality training to your managers and yourself? If not, this may be a big reason why your organization is having trouble finding labor. A quick google search would lead you to find that over 17% of people leave a job because they are unhappy at their current place of employment and couple that with how people find jobs, with "60 percent of jobs are found through networking".
If your organization develops a reputation of bad management, this will hurt your organization's ability to acquire new labor and even retain existing labor. The role of a manager is not just to manage the business but to create an environment that leads to "quality" productivity as opposed to high productivity because regardless of whether your organization hits its targets if your employees hate their lives, you are still failing as an organization. This is why you see top brand name establishments with the highest turnover rate, "amazon…around 150% a year, even before the pandemic".
My tips for management are developing a safe and anonymous system of accountability for your manager and employees, along with making that transparent for your employees and potential hires. As this will show hires you have a commitment to their employment satisfaction versus solely viewing them as props and tools for your target numbers. Another responsibility is to periodically get training to make sure you are doing your job the best you can.