• What do you do when your former employees have decided they don’t want to work in the restaurant industry anymore?
  •  It will take some innovative thinking and, most likely, higher pay to bring them back.

Related: How to address labor problems in the pizza restaurant industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a dreadful blow to the foodservice industry, forcing tens of thousands of restaurants to shut down permanently due to lockdowns and local restrictions. Now that the constraints are being relaxed and most restaurants have reopened for dine-in, new challenges have surfaced as the majority of restaurateurs are witnessing extraordinarily low staffing levels. Many are reporting serious challenges in finding the workforce they need to keep their operations running at full speed.

Many restaurant workers are unwilling to return to work because of low wages and difficult working conditions. Many have said they’re thinking of transitioning to other professions because of better growth opportunities.

Having a reduced staff means reduced quality of services as guests have to wait longer for clean tables and food. That mean less revenue and shrinking profits, which is not good news for any restaurant. Moreover, the reputation of the restaurant could take a blow, hampering further growth and profits.

Related: 5 expert tips for retaining your pizzeria’s best employees

Restaurant owners and managers need to address the labor shortage with diligence, patience and some innovative thinking. It is not just about having adequate staff to run the restaurant, but also the quality of that staff. They need to focus on how to improve the working conditions and pay structure for their staff and providing incentives and benefits.

Here are six quick tips that can help restaurateurs deal with the labor shortage.

  1. Restaurant owners must change how they think about their employers and starting treat labor as a precious commodity. They should work on improving salary structure and the overall work environment.
  2. Finding and retaining reliable employees isn’t just about improving pay structure but workplace satisfaction too. Restaurants can encourage transparency, appreciation and respect in their work to win the trust and confidence of their staff and reduce employee turnover.
  3. Restaurant owners can attract more customers by planning healthy meals and providing meal kit delivery. Find out here about the most popular meal kit services.
  4. Restaurateurs can take advantage of new technologies to reduce the need for staff, increase efficiency and create a more streamlined dining experience for the guests. Through digital ordering and carryout, patrons can place and pick up their orders themselves, decreasing the number of servers needed on the floor.
  5. Many restaurants across the world are testing robots and automated kitchen technology for preparing pizza and even serving customers. Some robots can help the kitchen staff by running food to tables and taking back dirty dishes.
  6. Restaurants can set themselves apart from others by paying staff higher than the minimum wage. Some have already begun offering around $15 to $16 an hour. Many restaurants are following this approach to lure more staff members and fill the shifts.

It is apparent that times have changed for the restaurant industry, and unless and until operators shift their thinking and develop some innovative ideas, they will find it difficult to face the labor shortages and will be unable to retain quality employees.

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