Understand Where We Stand in the Hospitality Labor Shortage of 2022
The hospitality industry was hit especially hard by the COVID-19 pandemic; with people leaving the workforce in droves both by force and voluntarily, there has been a record number of job vacancies impacting the industry. The shrinking workforce triggered a vicious cycle: fewer employees mean longer wait times, customers and managers get frustrated and take it out on the employee, and the worker quits. Declining workplace conditions have added to the hospitality labor shortage, so companies are poaching workers with promises of higher pay and more consistent schedules. The ongoing pattern of resignations has forced many restaurants into a downward spiral while trying to stay open.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the hospitality industry especially hard. Early on, dining room shutdowns led to lay-offs and terminations, and many of those employees found new careers. When restaurants began to open again, some employees were hesitant to come back for health reasons, and those who did often worked on skeleton crews that bore the brunt of responsibilities and customer frustration when they couldn’t provide pre-COVID-level service. Add in that some restaurants began offering large, attractive signing bonuses, and it became harder for restaurants to hold onto the staff they had. The ongoing pattern has forced many restaurants into a downward spiral that makes it difficult to operate.
According to the National Restaurant Association, 78% of restaurant owners across the U.S. say they don’t have enough employees to support customer demand. Employment data shows that a record number of Americans, 4.5 million, quit their jobs in November 2021, and 1 in 16 of those people were leisure and hospitality workers. That’s 6.4% of the industry that left in a single month, and the resignations are not expected to slow down. It’s common to see restaurants post that the hospitality labor shortage has forced them to reduce their hours or close on days when they don’t have enough staff.
Almost two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, the hospitality labor shortage still isn’t over. What should a restaurant owner do when they can’t find enough workers to meet the demand?
Quick stats You Need to Know on the Hospitality Labor Shortage
- In November, 4.5 million Americans quit their jobs, including a record-breaking loss of one million restaurant and hotel workers.
- That’s 6.4% of the industry that left in a single month, and the resignations are not expected to slow down.
- Despite there being plenty of jobs available and brisk hiring, 7 out of 10 hospitality operators report that they still can’t find enough employees.
What it Means for the Industry in 2022
Unfortunately, the National Restaurant Association’s State of the Industry Mid-Year Update predicts that the labor shortage in 2022 will continue throughout the year. In fact, three out of every four restaurant owners say that hiring and retaining employees is their biggest challenge.
The hospitality industry is at a crossroads, and the National Restaurant Association expects that the restaurant sector won’t ever fully return to its pre-pandemic state. Disruptive technology, shifts in consumer behavior and dining preferences, rising overhead and food prices, and the hospitality labor shortage are driving permanent, industry-wide changes.
H2: How to Create Efficient Restaurant Operations with Technology
Restaurant technology solutions can help overcome hospitality labor shortage challenges and help eateries provide the dining experiences that consumers demand. Key technologies for post-pandemic operations include:
Self-Service Ordering and Payment Kiosks:
Technology can bridge the customer service gap when there are fewer employees available. Customers prefer to use self-service kiosks because they can take additional time to read the menu, find new things to try, and customize their orders exactly to their preferences. Kiosks can also be programmed to upsell desserts, drinks, and sides, so the average ticket is higher.
Having a kiosk available means shorter waits at the counter, faster table turnover, and more accurate orders because the information is transmitted directly from the customer to the kitchen.
Order kiosks have many benefits, such as:
- Limiting errors
- Allowing customers to modify orders easily
- Generating higher ticket totals
Digital ordering gives diners and restaurant owners a frictionless experience, especially during the busiest times. Online ordering is a way for a restaurant to expand its customer base and boost profits–without adding staff. However, labor is still necessary to prepare and pack orders and deliver them while still managing on-premises diners. This easy-to-use technology is here to stay, so owners and managers should already be using this platform or ensure their POS system and other restaurant management technology solutions integrate with online ordering to streamline processes for their staff.
Cutting out the back-and-forth trips from the POS terminal to the table to process payments shaves several minutes off each table turn. QR codes and mobile payments are two types of pay-at-the-table technology that reduce wait times and improve the dine-in experience. When diners are finished, they can close the tab independently, without flagging down a staff member or feeling rushed.
Better Team Management and Payroll Management
A restaurant’s workforce is one of the biggest budget items for a restaurant, so it’s important to use the labor-management functions on the POS, such as clock-in and clock-out, job assignments, and optimized scheduling to reduce overtime costs and make the best use of the staff you have during the labor shortage. Staff will be happier with set expectations, reliable schedules, and the ability to switch or pick up shifts. Automated payroll functions eliminate the need to spend time calculating and submitting payroll and ensure your restaurant is following state and local tax laws.
The hospitality labor shortage is undoubtedly challenging for your business. However, technology can help you operate efficiently with fewer employees – and continue to benefit from that efficiency even when your business is operating with a full staff. Don’t attempt to “wait it out.” The industry isn’t going back to 2019. Move forward with a smart strategy that makes the best use of your resources supported by technology. Contact NCC at https://www.nccusa.com/contact-us/ for more information.