The in-person dining experience is back, but massive labor shortages are making it difficult for restaurants to keep up with the influx of customers. Just as restaurant owners worked tirelessly to draw customers back in throughout the past year, they will need to do the same for recruiting new employees as the industry bounces back. How might this be achieved? Through investments in technologies that amplify employee experiences.
Job Market & Job Preferences Have Evolved
To invest in proper technologies, restaurants need to understand how both the job market and job preferences have evolved. Technology has had a significant impact on job market operations, with most people now finding their jobs online and opt to work remotely. For the food industry, the issue of finding workers remains unresolved. To combat this problem, a handful of major restaurant chains across the nation have announced that they are raising wages to attract employees. (In June, Chipotle increased wages resulting in a $15 average hourly wage and starting wages ranging from $11 to $18 per hour.) but it seems that even this is not enough and restaurant owners should leverage technology for hiring purposes.
A recent study found that six in 10 millennials are open to new job opportunities, and employees in the food service industry are mainly young people. However, for millennials looking for innovation in the workplace, such as digital training modules or AI and machine learning capabilities, to enhance their experience and streamline operations— outdated systems that cannot help them get the job done won’t cut it.
Technology also influences how employees feel about their day-to-day experiences. In fact, 92% of employees say that having technology to support their job efficiency directly affects their work satisfaction.
When restaurant employees arrive for their shift, they do not always have time to complete simple tasks due to pressing customer or kitchen demands. Yet through mobile technology, employees can do things ahead of time from their personal devices, such as view their schedule, update availability, watch training materials and even message other team members or managers to ensure everything and everyone is up-to-date.
Innovations like self-ordering kiosks can also improve restaurant employee experiences. Kiosks leave room for employees to focus on food preparation and customer satisfaction in a more relaxed atmosphere given they have less customers to handle directly.
It is also important to empower employees through autonomous and digital tools to do their job more effectively. AI and machine learning capabilities can help employees manage tasks quickly while assuring that the correct decisions are made, thus preventing human errors when it comes to decision making.
[[According to a recent report from JobList, hospitality workers are transitioning out of the industry in search of a different work setting (52%), higher pay (45%), better benefits (29%), and more schedule flexibility (19%).]]
Additionally, technologies can lead to fiscal benefits for employees outside of their standard wages. For example, by optimizing the delivery process, drivers can see financial benefits through sophisticated learning machines that grant them the ability to take “smarter” delivery trips per shift. This allows greater opportunity for drivers to make more deliveries, ultimately earning more tips at the end of each day.
The Future of Restaurant Roles
The industry’s labor shortage inevitably makes existing workers' jobs more difficult, prompting current employees to not show up, call in late or leave shifts without any notice. These problems can deter from recruitment initiatives, lead to less efficient operations and decrease overall customer satisfaction.
However, rather than turn to technologies that threaten to destroy or replace human jobs, the food industry needs to invest in mechanisms that can attract new and existing talent. New technologies can create innovative roles, such as positions focused on customer experience or those that maintain a high level of creativity. These types of roles will require different skills and training sets from employees, opening the door for new hire opportunities.
While the future remains unknown, restaurants and QSRs that would like to go back to full capacity as soon as possible should prioritize investments in technology and continue to embrace innovation that keeps the best interest of their current and prospective staff at top of mind.
About the Author
Itzik Bachar is Dragontail System’s Chief Customer Officer. His role within the company involves managing client relationships, cultivating relationships by providing support, information and guidance, implementing the training systems in stores, and supporting training for many other aspects of the business. Itzik is a graduate in economics and management and has managed the operations and support services the largest restaurants and retail customers in Israel.