In January 2021, midwestern newspaper The Columbus Dispatch printed a story called, “Ohio restaurants can’t find workers, even with so many people out of work.” The story was echoed across the country, as restaurants began having problems finding service employees. Ohio restaurants weren’t alone, either, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) says it’s a national problem, “Businesses can’t find enough people to hire.” This is despite the fact that the hospitality industry is still struggling with thousands of unemployed workers, restaurants that are delivery-only, shortened hours, and much more.
This blog will examine the problem ad provide suggestions on how to attract hospitality employees even during times of high unemployment.
Where Have All the Workers Gone?
According to the WSJ, there are more job openings in the U.S. than before the pandemic hit in March 2020. But there are fewer people in the labor force. People are afraid of getting COVID-19, but businesses are reopening along with schools. But with schools opening, this leaves some parents without childcare. Some people are still receiving more unemployment than they would earn in the low-wage jobs that are available right now. Still, others having been furloughed or laid-off during the pandemic, are just choosing new careers or finding a way to make ends meet on just one income. Too, fewer teenagers are applying. Bloomberg quotes a restaurant strategist saying, “This is the most dramatic shift that’s happened in the modern history of foodservice. It’s the first time people have left the industry and decided not to come back.”
Changing Your Recruiting Strategy to Fit Today’s Markets
There are signs that restaurants are raising wages to attract candidates as well as offering signing bonuses. This may be a necessity in the face of today’s work and candidate environments. From a strategic perspective, it’s important to recognize that it may take longer to fill key management roles than it has in the past. Competition for the fewer workers in the marketplace is fierce, so start your hiring efforts earlier and expect them to last longer.
Promote your company culture as part of your hiring strategy. Create advertisements that entice people for the benefits and “what’s in it for them.” Think about why a job seeker would want to work with your team over the competition. Is your culture fun? Do you offer perks like free meals or flex time? Is there a social benefit for working in your facility? Teach your hiring teams to sell your business to candidates and you will attract more employees.
Also, pay your workers as much as you can. This will attract candidates away from your competition If you can pay a hiring bonus, we recommend it.
Finally, consider working with Gecko Hospitality. In this environment, you need a professional recruiting firm with a network of hospitality candidates. We work all day long on building our database of passive candidates. This kind of proactive effort will differentiate your company from the competition. Talk with our team about how we can help meet your hiring goals.