Restaurant Worker Shortage: 5 Ways To Survive This Problem

Marketing 21 minute read 31st July 2023

Are you struggling to find new workers for your restaurant and retain older ones? Well, in this tight labor market, it isn’t surprising. The restaurant worker shortage has gripped all food places by the throat since the pandemic.

However, you don’t have to worry as this problem has many solutions. All you need to do is get serious about caring for your employees.

If you’re ready to put in the effort, continue reading. This article will reveal five ways to survive the restaurant worker shortage. You will also learn some statistics and solutions to deal with the situation.

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Should You Really Worry About the Worker Shortage in Restaurants?

When you hear about the worker shortage in restaurants, it means people are not willing to work in hospitality establishments. We will explore why this is happening later in the article.

However, this is not good news for those managing a business in such an industry. This shortage can cause trouble when it comes to managing the venue. However, there’s more. A restaurant worker shortage might create issues for the following:

Moreover, it can hurt your business. If you don’t have enough workers, people might think your restaurant is not good. They will be against you thinking that you don’t pay your staff enough.

And a business that doesn’t care for its staff can’t be up to the mark. This isn’t good for your restaurant’s reputation management. But how bad is it?

Let’s Look at Restaurant Labor Shortage Statistics To Reveal the Truth

Looking at some restaurant labor shortage statistics can help understand the dire situation. Why is it important? How will you prepare yourself if you don’t see the bigger picture? So, here are some statistics for restaurant worker shortage:

  1. Restaurant operators say that recruiting and retaining employees is one of their top business challenges in 2023.
  2. Over 1.5 million leisure and hospitality job openings in the US are still waiting vacant, as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  3. When restaurants can’t staff adequately to meet demand, they often experience a loss of 10-25% of gross revenue per store.
  4. The food and beverage industry experienced a 1.95% decrease in its employee count in 2020.
  5. The restaurant industry also has substantially high turnover rates. This is when employees leave their jobs. On average, about 75% of restaurant workers change jobs each year. Comparing it to other industries, it’s 1.5 times higher!
  6. The good news is the kitchen staff is less likely to leave, with a turnover rate of 18%. However, people in management roles have a rate of 28% per year.

Overall, the stats look bad. However, that’s not the end of it. There are Reddit threads on this topic that look longer than the Great Wall of China!

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Restaurant Worker Shortage Reddit: What Is the Famous Discussion Website Saying?

After learning the industry statistics for restaurant worker shortage, it’s time to know what people say.

Why? Because only relying on industry numbers is a huge mistake. While the numbers aren’t wrong, you don’t get to hear the opinions behind them. You don’t get to see the reason behind those numbers.

So, you need to tap into the minds of the general public. That will give you better insights into what you must do to combat the restaurant worker shortage. However, we understand you’re a busy restaurant owner. Reading long threads about restaurant worker shortages on Reddit may not be on your quick list.

So, here are the common takeaways from these conversations:

  • The worker shortage is genuine, especially in the restaurant industry.
  • Fast food places face the worst of it.
  • The most common reason for this shortage is low, inconsistent pay.
  • A handful of staff members are stuck covering long shifts. This makes them tired and irritated, and they might start acting up with the customers.

People have extremely strong opinions on Reddit about restaurants. So, if you’re going to read the threads, prepare yourself because it isn’t pretty.

From Plenty to Scarcity: Why Is There a Restaurant Worker Shortage?

There were a lot of workers in restaurants before the pandemic. Crowds of students applied to restaurants to cover their expenses. While the numbers are slowly rising to pre-pandemic levels, there still aren’t enough workers. “But why is there a restaurant worker shortage?” If that’s what you’re wondering, here’s the answer.

Firstly, people’s changed job preferences have given way to the restaurant worker shortage. They want more stable and profitable jobs, which is understandable due to inflation. However, that means bad news for restaurant owners.

Secondly, the COVID-19 pandemic made things worse. Restaurants had to close temporarily, and many workers had to find other jobs or quit. Even when restaurants reopened, some workers didn’t want to go back. They worried about their health or wanted to try something different.

And let’s face it. Working in a restaurant can be challenging. The hours are long, the environment can be stressful, and there’s not much time off. This makes it hard to find and keep workers. They want to gain job satisfaction and balance their personal and work life.

However, it’s not just about what the workers want. Restaurants don’t always pay a lot compared to workers in other industries. This makes workers quit and choose industries that pay better and offer more benefits. Furthermore, restaurants rarely offer incentives to their staff.

And lastly, some people see the restaurant industry as having few growth opportunities, and the income can be inconsistent. This makes them less interested in working in restaurants.

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5 Ways To Deal With Restaurant Worker Shortage And Keep Your Place Alive

As you can see, the worker shortage situation is quite alarming. However, there’s still hope. You can still take control of the problem. All you need to do is apply strategies to excite people about your restaurant and encourage them to work there.

From increasing their wages to incorporating technology, we will discuss five ways to get back in the game. Once you apply these, your restaurant will stand out in the labor market. Let’s begin!

Solution #1 for Restaurant Worker Shortage: Give Their Wallets a Raise

Let’s start with the most common problem. As we discussed, one of the primary reasons for the restaurant worker shortage is less income. Thankfully, the solution to this problem is relatively straightforward: increasing their pay. Here’s why this can help.

First, when you offer higher wages, it makes the job more appealing to skilled workers. It makes them feel appreciated and shows that you value their work. Who wouldn’t want to stay in a job where they feel like a celebrity?

Moreover, it helps your restaurant stand out, allowing you to compete with other industries. If other jobs pay more money, employees might choose those instead. So, by increasing wages, you can make your jobs more attractive. For example, if the salary of your restaurant manager is below average, you might need to fix it quickly.

However, nothing beats a happy employee. When you pay more to your workers, it boosts their morale and motivation. This means they will work harder and provide better customer service.

That’s like killing two birds with one stone. Happy employees create a positive environment for other workers and your customers.

And believe it or not, paying higher wages helps you save money. Because when employees leave their jobs, hiring and training new ones costs money. So isn’t it better to pay more and save money in the long run?

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Solution #2 for Restaurant Worker Shortage: Put Health and Safety on the Menu

The second solution for the restaurant worker shortage especially appeals to those who left due to the pandemic. It makes sure employees are safe and healthy at work.

Showing you care about your employees’ safety and health makes people want to work with you. Of the many vacancies, they are more likely to consider working for you because of this, paired with higher wages.

But how do you achieve this? Here are some of the measures that can help:

  • When you hire new employees, train them to stay safe at work. But these protocols keep changing. So give them refresher courses every year to remind them of important safety rules.
  • Give them gloves, masks, and shoes that don’t slip. It’s also important to keep your restaurant clean and provide hand sanitizer.
  • Ensure your establishment has good ventilation and enough space for people to keep apart.
  • Offer paid sick leave.

However, only implementing these measures is not enough. You need to spread awareness that your restaurant takes care of these things. How would people know if you don’t tell them?

You can put this information in job postings, your website, social media pages, or recruitment materials.

Moreover, you can talk about safety during job interviews too. This will make the interviewee more excited about joining your establishment.

Solution #3 for Restaurant Worker Shortage: Provide Perks That Sizzle

Another solution to the restaurant worker shortage is providing perks and benefits. People don’t just want money when they work for you. They have other needs you need to take care of, for example, transportation.

They may have to spend much of their salary without a commute benefit to get to work. Wouldn’t they rush to jobs that offer a way to reach the workplace without losing much of their pay?

Moreover, allow workers to choose their shifts. Students often work in restaurants to cover their expenses. They would be more comfortable working at night. Also, give paid leaves to your employees to ensure they can relax and spend time with loved ones.

Furthermore, offer discounts or free meals to show appreciation and enable staff to enjoy your restaurant’s food.

However, some people think working in a restaurant will limit their potential. So create clear career paths with training, mentorship, and promotion prospects. Offer additional incentives according to their performance. This will push them to give their best and grow with time.

When it comes to benefits, you must listen to your employees. Because your future employees will have the same demands as your current ones. Ask them what they need. For example, it might be a break room. And again, only implementing these ideas won’t help with the worker shortage. Promote these perks and benefits through job postings, social media, and employee testimonials.

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Solution #4 for Restaurant Worker Shortage: Present Your Job Openings on the Buffet Table

This solution for the restaurant worker shortage is relatively straightforward. After all, you must advertise your vacancies to let people know you’re hiring. So, how do you promote your job openings?

Start by putting ads on websites where people look for jobs. The number of applications you receive from there would be surprising.

Moreover, use social media because that’s where most of your future employees are. It would also help to ask current workers if they know anyone who might want to work at the restaurant. But don’t forget to reward them if they refer someone. This will encourage them to bring more!

You can also talk to local schools and groups to tell them about job opportunities. When it comes to credibility, your website comes out on top. So make sure it has a separate “Careers” page.

And lastly, local newspapers never let you down! But if you want to stand out, you can use unusual ways to promote your vacancies. However, ensure you ask the right questions during the interview for your restaurant. While there’s a shortage of workers, a bad employee is worse than no employee.

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Solution #5 for Restaurant Worker Shortage: Make Technology Your Friend

Let’s discuss automation to wrap up the solutions for the restaurant worker shortage. When nothing else works, you always have the technology to rescue you. Here are some that can help you.

Firstly, you can use a kiosk system where customers can order food themselves instead of relying on staff. Restaurant POS and similar solutions make ordering faster and reduce mistakes.

Secondly, you can have websites or apps where customers can order food for delivery or takeout. This is not only convenient for customers but also for you.

Moreover, you can use mobile payment solutions. Allow customers to pay for their meals using their smartphones. It makes the payment process faster and saves the need for extra staff to handle payments.

Lastly, you can put QR codes on tables or menus. Customers can scan these codes with their smartphones to see the menu, order food, and even pay for it. This helps with efficiency, improves the customer’s experience, and reduces the work for waitstaff. That’s one of the great uses of QR code marketing.

What Can You Do To Avoid This Shortage in the Future?

While many factors played a role in the restaurant worker shortage, two reasons are the main culprits. They are the COVID-19 pandemic and the management’s irresponsible behavior.

To solve this problem, look at your procedures and see what you improve. Moreover, give health and other benefits to keep employees happy.

Apart from that, you can promote your company by providing valuable content. Tell people about your food scene and what it’s like to work for your restaurant. If you think it’s a great career choice, let people know why.

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