Headlines on high inflation and businesses closing due to COVID-19 have been rampant these past two years, but just as life is starting to settle down, restaurants have been dealing with an ongoing problem in the background: staffing shortages. With this wave of astronomical prices and strong consumer demand, many restaurants are shifting strategies to combat these issues by integrating new technologies and platforms.
Despite the improvement across jobs reports such as businesses reaching or exceeding pre-pandemic levels, the restaurant industry is short roughly 750,000 jobs and 83% of restaurants are having trouble meeting staffing needs, according to a May survey conducted by Alignable. As a result, many restaurants are struggling to fill positions and turning to technology to overcome labor shortfalls, and see growth that would otherwise be nullified from lack of adequate staffing. Nine in 10 operators said being understaffed is having a significant or moderate impact on their restaurant’s ability to grow and succeed, according to the National Restaurant Association's 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report.
The pandemic not only shifted consumer use of technology at home, but also in the hospitality industry. According to a survey by Popmenu, 67% of operators have increased their reliance on technology in the face of continued labor issues, with technology such as online ordering and automated phone systems filling gaps left in operations. The same survey conducted by Popmenu revealed that 30% of respondents will consolidate technology vendors in 2022. This leaves businesses with a major decision: adopting technology habits to meet new consumer expectations or permanently closing.
A Need for Technology that Satisfies the Worker of Today
The past two years have completely altered the landscape of the hospitality industry and its staffing, including the ability to retain and acquire employees. Now, contactless payment methods and online ordering apps remain at the forefront for surviving restaurants. Shifting to a digital work model has allowed the food industry to realize numerous benefits such as reducing costs and increasing performance. As retaining and hiring threatened the livelihood for business owners, technology became crucial for hiring, retaining capable workers, and simplifying the ways to service guests according to Forbes.
Today, restaurants face large expectations for innovation pressure, and as a direct result are incorporating technologies related to ordering and payment experiences to support the many facets of running a restaurant in the current climate.
In addition, new methods of recruitment and management have shifted staffing models to reflect the change in consumer and operational traditions. According to an SWNS survey, one-third of employed Americans would switch careers for more flexibility at work. We’ve seen that companies embracing workflow optimization and digital tools are the most likely to overcome the challenges that a nationwide labor shortage brings forth, allowing for longstanding success. Tech tools offer staffers a simpler and more streamlined work experience – from seeing their schedule to waiting on customers – and can create an environment that makes them feel valued and supported.
The Future of Staffing - The Newest Insights
In order to keep up with the competitive hospitality field, hoteliers must evolve with the times. According to the SWNS survey, 44% of respondents said the top thing their employer needs to improve is their pay, followed by benefits (42%) and then flexibility (39%). Solving the pain points of thousands of businesses starts with changing the way people work. For the first time, we’re seeing workers excited about the current staffing landscape that’s creating alternative platforms for work and providing important resources. Today’s workers crave more fulfilling jobs, flexibility, and control over their schedules - all contributing to greater work-life balance.
Now that the restaurant industry has discovered the power of technology to simultaneously increase profitability and customer satisfaction, operators can use this knowledge to not only to help fight the current inflation problem, but to recession-proof their businesses down the road.
Today’s workers demand efficiency and ease, making it vital that businesses adopt digital tools to streamline all aspects of hiring and retention. With the right technology stack in place, operators can be more nimble in navigating ongoing and future challenges.
About the Author
Gint Grabauskas is Qwick’s, an on-demand staffing platform for hospitality businesses and professionals, first-ever CTO who leads the company’s engineering and product functions. Bringing three decades of experience, formerly Offerpad CTO and GoDaddy VP of Engineering, Grabauskas is a digital transformation expert who’s spearheading the product strategy and further optimizing the Qwick app and proprietary CX platform for professionals and business partners.