Business Insights

What’s Next in Hiring and Labor

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Recruiting and employee retention represent ongoing concerns for restaurant operators. Staff shortages have been especially intense in recent years. But with the right outlook, the forecast is promising.

The labor landscape

“Back-of-house jobs are the most challenging to fill,” says Jim Hargrove, Shamrock Foods Restaurant Consultant.

According to Bo Bryant, Shamrock Foods Restaurant Consultant, low-skill positions — prep cook, line cook, and short-order cook — are understaffed by 62%; bussers, barbacks, and food runners by 61%; and dishwashers by 55%. Highly skilled culinary workers — e.g., sous chefs and assistant chefs between the ages of 25 and 35 — are down by 52%. To meet staffing needs, operators are turning to younger, inexperienced cohorts. With the cost of replacing individual workers running around $5,200, retaining them is key to operational success and customer service.

Meet these younger employees where they are without compromising your standards.
- Jeff Pivin, Shamrock Foods Restaurant Resources Manager

New workers, new opportunities

“The labor market is looking much better than it was,” says Jeff Pivin, Shamrock Foods Restaurant Resources Manager. “More people are coming back to the restaurant segment.”

 “Eighty-five percent of people who left the restaurant industry have come back,” Hargrove says. “The people who haven’t come back are the highly trained, seasoned employees.”

 “It’s a very different employee who’s going to work at restaurants now,” adds Hargrove, “Younger workers between the ages of 16 and 22 are coming to us with a whole different skill set.” More accustomed to screen time than human interaction, younger workers may need to learn people skills as well as restaurant skills.

 “It’s actually a great opportunity,” Pivin notes. “Hire new folks and train them into your system. Inexperienced employees won’t have too many bad habits, so you won’t have to un-train them.”

Look for attitude over aptitude, advises Tim Maness, Shamrock Foods Restaurant Consultant, Colorado.  “We’re teaching hospitality in ways we’ve never had to,” he says. “We’re going to teach them how to work on a team, about food safety, about customer safety. They’ll acquire a lifetime of transferrable skills.”

We live in a hospitality culture. Expectations run high all around — for customers and prospects. Employees expect you to extend to them the same sense of hospitality you offer customers. They want you to care more.  “Meet these younger employees where they are without compromising your standards,” says Pivin. 

 Tell prospects what you can do for them, not just what you expect of them. Convey the opportunities you offer. Communicate your brand culture and leadership style.  “Determine what your customers and employees say you’re good at and shout that from the digital rooftop,” Hargrove says. “Tell the story of why you’re a better option as an employer.” 

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Need help with hiring or employee retention? Our team of restaurant industry experts is ready to help your business. Fill out this form to set up your session, or reach out to your Shamrock Foodservice Representative.

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    “It’s time to get back to a more selective process during hiring, in fact, it’s imperative to improving your culture. Your A and B players are not going to tolerate C and D players anymore.”
    Chelsea Reynolds, Arizona Branch Consultant
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