5 tips to handle your staff shortage

Staff wanted signs have been popping up in windows all over the place, and unfortunately many of these windows belong to restaurants. With many businesses struggling with staff shortages, how to get new personnel is the today’s number one question. According to the USA’s National Restaurant Association, 3 out of 4 operators say recruitment is currently their toughest challenge, and these numbers seem to be similar in other countries.

COVID has forced many operators to let go of staff and has prompted many employees to leave the business in search of something else. Like any job, the restaurant business isn’t all fun and games, but the ever-changing rosters, late-night shifts and weekend and holiday work inherent to the restaurant industry seem to have taken their toll.

So, the number two question is: how do you keep people from leaving? Even though the restaurant business can’t offer very competitive perks and benefits, there’s still a lot to gain. Because even when employees are in high demand, a happy worker is a loyal worker. So here are some ways to keep your people happy and create a sustainable employee policy.

5 Essentials for happy staff

1. Give people what they need

Just because it’s a little obvious, doesn’t mean it’s not essential. Give people what they need. We’re talking small investments here. If someone’s stretched for time before an evening shift, offer them a free meal, get them a safe ride home, buy their favourite kitchen tool, or even just give them a little extra freedom. It’s the day-to-day stuff that makes the difference. Make sure to keep an eye out for what people want, as not everyone has the courage to ask.

2. Invest in careers

Good bosses are keen to see their people grow and there’s lots to learn in the foodservice industry. Make sure to tell your staff about their opportunities and help them set off in the right direction. Challenge them to seize their opportunities: we promise you they’ll thank you. Even if they outgrow you, you’ll benefit too, as having a reputation for investing in careers will land you people who are looking to advance.

3. Be flexible

It’s hard to fill all your shifts amidst a massive shortage of labour, but asking too much from your staff won’t make things any better. The key? Communication. Don’t put people on a list and ask them to come, but ask them when they’d be willing to help you out instead. Show interest in their schedules and be honest about yours. Create an environment where people are motivated help each other out, you and your employees.

4. Offer long-term benefits

It’s a good thing to offer occasional benefits to your staff, like a Christmas present or an annual  staff party, but to keep people working for you, long-term benefits can be a game changer. Take an annual dinner voucher for family, a savings programme, contributing to their healthcare insurance, or even offering them a pension.

5. And, last but not least: be transparent

An honest boss is the best boss. Tell your people how the restaurant is doing, be open about career opportunities and ask for feedback regularly. Even though it’s busy at work, make sure you keep communicating. It’ll help you tackle any issues in the workplace at an early stage and prevent people from becoming unhappy. After all, happy people make your business thrive!

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