Chef Matt Bolus
Source: Kelli LaMatia
Like many restaurant owners, Matt Bolus, head chef at The 404 Kitchen in Nashville, had to get creative when the city shut down due to Covid-19 orders last spring.
He keeps his key staff busy cooking for the local food bank. private dinner and other opportunities to pay the bills
“You really just grab every straw you can. Because you don̵7;t know when the end is,” he said.
As the city reopened and ordered to disappear, Bolus saw a surge of guests returning to the restaurant. But now he faces a big challenge: recruiting kitchen staff to meet growing demands.
“Unfortunately, labor groups are still more of a labor pit,” he said.
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The pandemic has affected the hospitality industry. That will lay off 2.5 million jobs by 2020, the National Restaurant Association reports.
Even with restaurants adding jobs in 2021, the restaurant employee unemployment rate is still above the national average. But even that unemployment rate is welcome. But many restaurants are still looking for workers.
The National Restaurant Association found that almost half had 20% fewer employees than usual.
In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that Accommodation and food service jobs jumped to nearly 1 million in March.
Although there has been some controversy over the protracted restaurant staff shortages, there has been some debate. But some points point to rising unemployment benefits.
“If you talk to any restaurant They will tell you that more employees make more money with incentives to stay home,” said Jean Chick, head of U.S. restaurants and food services at Deloitte in Chicago.
But others blame the systematic problems that have plagued the restaurant industry for years.
“A place that wants to continue the old style without benefits, low wages and poor working conditions We are having the most trouble bringing in employees,” said Teofilo Reyes, chief program officer at Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, the non-profit organization that supports restaurants.
out of the circle
As the pandemic increases staffing problems But restaurant staff shortages were a pre-COVID problem, Bolus said.
In Nashville, restaurants face fierce competition for talent. As the city welcomes an increasing number of new establishments, 112 new restaurants, bars or cafés opened in 2019, the third consecutive year more than 100 have opened, according to the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp. .
“In the last 26 years I’ve been doing this. Probably the toughest two-year patch I’ve ever seen in employment,” Bolus said.
Nashville wasn’t the only city dealing with a tight hospitality labor market before the pandemic.
Ben Ellsworth, Founder and CEO of GigPro, an on-demand hiring app in Charleston. South Carolina states, “We are in what the media calls ‘Personnel Crisis in Hospitality’ for more than a decade
After years of battling labor shortages The Charleston restaurant changed its mind to layoff last March. It cut the city’s 28,000 restaurant workforce by 65% by mid-April 2020, according to College of Charleston estimates.
As workers struggle to pay their bills Many people look for jobs elsewhere. Some employees find higher paying jobs with landscaping or construction companies, Ellsworth said.
A pre-plague chef in Charleston made $15 or $16 an hour. With one-bedroom apartments renting for more than $1,000 a month in the area. It’s easy to understand why some workers leave the industry, he said.
Health risks are also affecting shortages. As many workers felt it was unsafe to return to work, William Dissen, head chef and owner of Haymaker in Charlotte, North Carolina
restaurant staff especially those who work in small kitchens. There is a risk during the pandemic Line cooks may experience the highest worker mortality rates in March-October 2020, according to a study from the University of California, San Francisco.
After mass layoffs across the country Burnt restaurant workers may use the opportunity to seek other career options, Ellsworth said.
More than a quarter of kitchen workers leave the industry permanently. In a survey of 2,000 direct chefs from staffing company Mis en Place, some workers cited relatively low wages and long working hours as reasons for quitting.
However, a third of those surveyed said they planned to return but had not yet for various reasons. This includes looking for suitable opportunities (20%), concerns about COVID (7%), and unemployment benefits or stimulus checks (6%).
On-demand employment app
Although North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper recently lifted restrictions, operators have failed to fully staff restaurant Dissen, which owns The Market Place in Asheville. North Carolina and Billy D’s Fried Chicken in Asheboro. North Carolina State said
Restaurateurs have often turned to Craigslist for workers, but recently there hasn’t been enough response to meet growing demand, he said.
“Since it reopened to 75% and 100%, we’ve had a real problem,” Dissen said. “I run ads almost every day.”
As the industry continues to grapple with growing labor shortages, Dissen has turned to GigPro, an on-demand hiring app. to fill temporary needs such as a cook or a dishwasher
“It’s amazing for our business. [in Charlotte] to fill the gap when we need it,” he said.
Managers may offer higher wages for last-minute workers, for example, if a typical hourly rate for a dishwasher is in the $15 per hour range. They might offer to pay $20 an hour for GigPro, Dissen said.
“I filled out gigs at our restaurant within 5 minutes of posting,” he said.
The app also allows managers and employees to try shifts together before they start hiring, says Bolus, who hires a handful of employees from the app.
“They have a chance to shine or they have a chance to leave,” he said.
Disadvantages of on-demand hiring apps
Worker advocates say there may be some downsides to on-demand employment apps.
“The biggest downside is that you’ll be treated like an independent contractor,” Reyes said, “which means you’re not subject to the few labor protections we have under the Fair Labor Standards Act.”
Another potential scarcity could be an increased risk of race or gender discrimination based on employee profile pictures in the app, he said.
“I think this is definitely something to follow,” Reyes said.
‘Calculations’ in the restaurant industry
Some restaurateurs say changing the hiring and recruiting process might be a good thing.
“I think these kinds of applications are just getting started. And I think they might revolutionize the way we all work,” Bolus said.
Another trend in the hiring process is offering applicants money for interviews, members said.
“They are saying ‘We’re actually going to give you $50 to show up for an interview’ and then the responsibility rests with the restaurant owner to sell them for the position,” she said.
While hiring managers test new recruiting strategies Some people have noticed a dynamic shift between owners and employees.
“I think there are some calculations in the restaurant industry,” Dissen said.
while the restaurant inspects the operation There may be some steps to try. “Elevate the playing field” between owners and employees, he said.
But it will look different for every restaurant. It depends on long-term debt, goods sold, and the amount paid to the employee, he accepts.
“I think it’s a very deep question. And maybe can’t sleep trying to figure out what it is,” Dissen says, “but I think that’s how you can be in the future.”