It's no secret that a lot of hospitality businesses are feeling the pressure this year with staffing issues. According to Alignable, 83% of Restaurants Still Can't Find Enough Workers. So why is this such a wide spread issue, and what can you do as a hospitality business to combat it?
Why is the industry short staffed?
From the Pandemic to Brexit, it's difficult to pin point the exact reason why the industry is so short staffed. It isn't a new challenge either (although perhaps exacibated in the last few years) with staffing issues in this sector going back to 2006. Sadly the staffing issues are spread across all roles within the hospitality industry, from waiting and kitchen staff through to restaurant and senior managers. So why is the industry so short staffed and what you can do to manage your business correctly during these times?
Working in hospitality is exceptionally rewarding, but it also involves a lot of hard work, long hours and the demand to meet high levels of customer service. However, to those who work outside the industry hospitality is often deemed as a low-skilled job, with the incorrect assumption that anyone can do it... The reality is very different. This assumption alone is part of the reason for individuals leaving their hospitality roles, people may onboard expecting an "easy" job, so when the reality of the role kicks ins, a lot of people leave as it doesn't meet their expectations.
This is where you need to be honest with your prospective employees. During the interview stages explain your expectations and discuss the benefits and challenges of the position. This will help you filter out the prospects who aren't suitable for the role, and enable you to focus your attention on prospects who are committed to thriving in the industry. Being open and honest from the start will help filter out time spend on wasted training!
The Covid Pandemic was a challenging period for most industries, hospitality was no exception. Whilst most employees were put on furlough, a high quantity of employees were made redundant due to the lack of funding.
After being pushed to looked for a different career path, these highly qualified hospitality professionals have not been returning to the industry - more flexible hours, and other benefits, could be found elsewhere. It may be time to reflect on your employee benefit packages, as prospective candidates are actively seeking out roles that offer a healthy work culture and a reward beyond their salary.
Brexit has also taken it's toll on the hospitality industry, and much more than was initially expected!
According to Stint.co, "Since Brexit, the free movement rule no longer applies to migrant workers or UK businesses. For the employer, finding overseas staff has become more difficult, and for the migrant worker, coming to the UK is far less attractive than it first was."
Hospitality was an industry thriving with the support of migrant workers from the EU, and is now struggling to fill thousands of once filled positions.
What can you do regarding the staff shortage?
Unfortunately, the staff shortage doesn't have an easy answer and it unlikely to be drastically improving anytime soon. So now, it is all about how you manage the shortage and what you can do to ensure your restaurant is not compromised because of it - implementing good practices will give you a competitive edge. Ahead of winter, it's a good time to refocus your efforts... for more imformation about preparing you restaurant for winter read our helpful blog here: Is-your-restaurant-ready-for-winter
Show Appreciation for Current Staff
There cannot be enough emphasis put on the importance of building your team and treating them with respect. With good staff being so difficult to find, it is important that you show appreciation for your current staff. Don't overwork them, don't push them to do more than they signed up for. If you do you could be at risk of losing them also.
If you would like to know more about showing appreciation for your staff and to improve your staff retention read here: Improve-staff-Retention
Manage Your Expectations
It's important to know the limits of your team, and the limits of your venue's capacity. Being short staffed this winter may be inevitable for many of you - but if you know that you will be short staffed, you can prepare.
It can be very easy to get carried away and take all the bookings and all the walk ins that come your way this time of year. Theoretically, this may look great, however the ability to successfully serve all of these people to your usual high standard is minimal.
Ensuring you have satisfied customers is much more beneficial than having a restaurant full of unhappy customer who you are unable to satisfy. For more tips, see our blog on Reputation Management.
Automate Wherever You Can
With staff levels so low, now is the time to invest in atomisation. There is a multitude of technology that would be incredibly beneficial if you have the ability to invest in.
This has been increasingly popular in coming years with thanks to the pandemic. A lot of sites have introduced self ordering. This could be either with a self service stand or, more popular with sit down restaurant, an app or a webpage that customers can order from which lessens the need for a vast number of servers.
Pay on App
A lot of negative reviews left for hospitality business involve the time taken to receive and pay for the bill. When restaurants are understaffed printing bills and taking payments can be a timely process. With a Pay on App option, this will not only improve you customer experience but also help with the stress of your servers.
Pre Recorded Phone Calls
When you're busy on a Saturday its difficult to answer the phone even with a a full team. With pre recorded messages you can automate part of the process. These set phone calls could enable customers to book tables or even be directed to a more suitable website to aid your time.
Preparation is Important
The take away message here is that perparation is everything. Take a moment to reflect on the state of your business, outline your key areas for improvement, and take swift steps to improve them - hopefully this article will steer your thougth process in a productive direction!