Fast-food establishments are better known in the industry as quick service restaurants. Unfortunately, many of them are facing staffing problems in the post-pandemic world. So, what are the challenges, why are they occurring, and what can be done about it?
While understaffed QSRs are not a new concept, it seems to be more of a challenge than ever to attract and retain staff. In early 2020, only 13% of quick service restaurants were fully staffed in hourly positions (excluding management), and 40% of restaurants explained they were understaffed.
More recently, in May of 2021, a QSR web poll of restaurant company leaders found that 31% of respondents closed stores because they did not have enough employees. Moreover, 37% of respondents were still deciding whether to close or not.
These statistics point to a dire situation. As for why the labor shortfall is happening, there are a few explanations, depending on who you ask.
Rather than pointing to one cause, it is more likely that different pressures coming together best explains the lack of QSR workers. One culprit is the enhanced unemployment benefits issued by the federal government.
These benefits for restaurant workers were released in the wake of disruptions brought on by the pandemic. Some people argue that if they are paid as much (or more) to sit at home and collect unemployment than to work in a restaurant, they have no incentive to get a job.
Others point out that the underlying issue is not the government benefits but the poor wages in the industry. QSR employees may not want to return to work because they worry about being exposed to the risks of COVID-19 as restaurants re-open, thinking that minimum wage does not make it worth the danger to their health worth it.
Also, the pandemic created opportunities for workers to look for jobs outside of the industry that brings in higher hourly pay, better hours, or more chances for career growth. Thus, even if restaurants and jobs open fully post-pandemic, some people will have moved on.
That leaves the restaurant industry with a smaller workforce than before. For example, 20% fewer people were employed in food service at the end of 2002 than at the beginning of that same year. Replacing those workers overnight is not likely to happen, especially for QSRs with hundreds of locations that only have two or three HR professionals to support them.
Establishing automated recruiting and hiring processes is a great way for QSRs to secure the best talent. For example, Talcura’s unique platform makes sending jobs to your website, intranet, social media, and job boards a cinch. You can even create a custom careers portal to make the application process engaging and consistent for candidates and employees.
Also, attention to keeping top performers remains an important role of HR professionals as part of efforts to reduce turnover. Providing what employees want from your organization, such as a respectable salary and flexible work hours, can strengthen their loyalty.
Focusing on a candidate’s skills rather than previous experience is also important when deciding who to hire. In QSR, employees often must multi-task. Hiring them based on their ability to do so and their specific skill set can help HR leaders spot which applicants will be the best fit.
These are only a few ideas to help you start to think about how best to streamline recruitment and hold onto the great talent already in your company. The right technology and strategy can improve the effectiveness of the hiring process in the restaurant industry.